Hope you've enjoyed the April Showers series. There are SO many films we could have covered. (Tangent: I'm dying to know, for example, when the first shower sequence ever filmed was. The earliest I personally know of is Marilyn Monroe in Niagara (1953) which I meant to write about. Oops. But there has to be something earlier, right? I've searched but can't find any definitive info.)
Though I hate to end on a disturbing note I haven't been able to get Edward Norton out of my mind recently so we have to look back at American History X (1998).
I'm not sure how Mr. Norton became lodged in my brain recently but if I had to guess it'd be the combo of Mark Ruffalo taking over the Hulk (they just started filming The Avengers) and a random flashback to The Painted Veil. Then at some point last week I said to myself "Edward Norton was Ryan Gosling before Ryan Gosling was Ryan Gosling" i.e. the actor that everyone thought was The Actor of His Generation, The Future. And then I really couldn't get him out of my head.
Norton famously gained much of his Great Actor reputation from American History X (1998), and won a longshot Oscar nomination for Best Actor. In the film he plays Derek, a loathsome racist who, after realizing his world view is full of shit while serving time in prison, tries to turn his life around before his younger brother follows his same dark path. It's disturbing to note how much acting cred can come from playing racist skinheads; Russell Crowe (Romper Stomper) and Ryan Gosling (The Believer) had similar artistic breakthroughs.
I've never known quite what to make of American History X -- it's one of those films like, say, Natural Born Killers, that seems to struggle with its own theme merely by addressing it. If you keep visualizing something awful through strong visuals and hugely charismatic acting, aren't you actually glorifying what you're supposed to be condemning? So this post is also a call for your opinions. I'm just curious how readers feel about the movie because it's one of those key late 90s Oscar players that I don't believe we've ever discussed. (I was in the Sir Ian McKellen camp that year but I was enormously pleased that Norton managed a nomination.)
As Derek begins to form a tentative friendship with a black prisoner, his neonazi counterparts turn violently against him. Showers are always bad news in prison movies. More after the jump [NSFW]