Monday, 15 March 2010

American History X by @maverick99sback


I alluded to John Travolta being a hero of mine last week. Outside of film, and since Lee Sharpe never did anything good with his life (okay, okay.... apart from Celebrity Love Island), its David Beckham. I used to copy his haircuts, and even did the two earrings thing (I'm NOT gay!). Around 1998, Becks took it all off. The hair, that is. I copied. My girlfriend at the time was at Warwick Uni, and in hindsight it was a bit of a rebellion. Around the same time, I got introduced to Edward Norton. (Not personally). And so, for week two, for the "Soundtrack To My Life, Told Through Films That Meant Something To Me" (I need a better title), I give you "American History X".

My hair being cut so short it looked like a Neo-Nazi may have been an accident. It might have been fate. Either way, Dad and I had more words. I realise now I have Ethan how I would feel if he wanted to chop all his hair off. It is a statement. In my case it was of wanting to grow up, get independent. My girlfriend was away at Uni, and although I was at Uni, I was staying at home. Besides, I couldn't see the link between what someone was like on the inside, needing to match their appearance. I just wanted to look like Becks. If I could play anything like him, it was a Bonus. (I couldn't/can't).
I got the film on DVD, as I was old enough to be buying my own films now. I eventually got up to over 1000 DVDs at my peak. My Blu collection is around 150 already. I hide some in my cupboard, to keep this from Mrs T, who as ever, is far too patient with me.
My Dad must have seen it on my shelf, and watched it. he then watched it again, this time with Mum. He watched it  a third time, with Mum and I. It all felt like it was in the space of three nights, although I doubt it was. I was getting away with this one, because its a phenomenal film, with a great message. Dad appreciated actors, like me. And it was clear, Norton may be the heir to De Niros throne. (He gets a post of his own, later. Out of interest, Mum was a bigger influence on him being my fave actor of all time. Dad has always struggled with why he could want to see De Niro knifing Billy Batts in the back of the car, bathed in red light - even though he knew it was an immense film, and he felt compelled to watch. ("Goodfellas", by the way. Try and keep up.)
@domcoke is worth a follow on Twitter. (Do we need to keep selling it, GC??). He has an interesting idea about "gimmicks", and how they are just an illusion. The test is whether the illusion holds up next time round. I've thought about films in general when hes said this, and how its difficult for any film to hold up to a second, or third viewing. Norton pulls this through. When he realizes at the end whats happened, and runs to the school, it still gets me. I think of how I've made decisions that have influenced others, and how important it is to be a role model, as much as you can. And the pressure that brings on the actual role model. I think about how I'll follow Norton  for good now.
In terms of gimmicks, "Primal Fear" falls in this category, and again, holds up. "The Illusionist", also. And "The Score", teaming Norton with De Niro, and passing the torch. Maybe Ed Norton is the best  Magician I've ever seen? I wont go in to it, but after the Director wanted his name chalked off "American History X", Norton allegedly stole into the editing suite and finished the film.
I studied Media Studies, and for what its worth, Aced it. I think that's where I differed. I to this day, don't care too much about editing etc if I'm captivated. I was captivated by this film. The "message" wasn't the important bit. I never once thought it glamorised violence, especially racial violence. In fact, I don't doubt the "message" in "American History X" isn't as strong as I remember arguing it was. All everyone ever talks about is the "kiss the curb" scene. That's very frustrating for me. They never mention Norton breaking down, while he's talking to Edward Furlongs teacher, in prison. They don't talk about this being the start of Norton's Holy trinity. (see also "Fight Club", and the best of the lot, "25th Hour"), For me, this was all about the day I bought this on DVD, in Camberleys Woolworths. (I may have got pick n' mix, too). The day I tried to grow up. I'm still trying.