The 3-Way Movie Challenge: “American” Movies

The 3-Way Movie Challenge is a competition between three movies that might be completely unrelated except for some purely coincidental link, such as today’s: They all start with the word American.

The Competitors:

AMERICAN BEAUTY    AMERICAN HISTORY X    AMERICAN PSYCHO

Let’s get going:

American Beauty (1999)

Love it or loathe it, you’ve got to admit: Sam Mendes’ Oscar-sweeping 1999 film is a masterpiece. It contains raw, powerful scenes of emotion, and a thought-provoking and disturbingly honest look at the seemingly normal suburban society in a manner that no film prior or subsequent could match. Spacey and Bening are superb in the starring roles, the cinematography is to croak for, and the screenplay contains some sublime and brilliantly written lines that your head will spin. The supporting cast are just as important as the leads as well, and Wes Bentley and Thora Birch are nothing less than extraordinary in their roles as disillusioned young adults. There is powerful emotion in this film, and a powerful opinion of society that is both shockingly correct and outrageously over-the-top. At least, it seems over-the-top at first until we realize how scarily similar it is to our own lives. Superb.

American History X (1998)

Edward Norton rocks the boat and then some in this graphic, moving film which once again tackles suburbia, but in a completely different manner and with a crucially different outlook and focus. Racism is common, and one in two people are likely to have racial thoughts, whether purposefully or completely accidentally at some point or another in their lives. Norton plays a man whose racism is like a virus that has taken him over to the point where he can’t determine the difference between a good and bad person altogether. Almost everyone is scum to him, and the director Tony Kaye makes sure the audience knows this. Some powerfully written scenes may slightly exaggerate the feeling of righteousness seen within the characters, but who cares? Either way it’s a movie that must be seen.

American Psycho (2000)

Patrick Bateman. Just hearing the words sends a shiver down my spine, and the above picture doesn’t do anything to console me either. He is a ruthless murderer by nightfall played brilliantly by Christian Bale. He likes rocking out to Huey Lewis and the News, keeps himself as healthy as a horse, murders the odd homeless person and (in the book) sticks the odd rat in the vagina (not a metaphor). Mary Harron directs with skill and pace the horrific tale of the coolest serial killer in history. Unless you’re a woman. Then he’s the complete opposite. But whether its misogynistic and sexist or not (which I believe it isn’t), you cannot deny how truly excellent this thriller is. Bale is given the role of a lifetime as he passionately portrays the killer in a way so that we can see into his mind and understand his world and what its like in the business in which he works where no one cares about anyone and everyone looks the same. Try getting a reservation at Dorsia now, you f**king stupid bastard.

So there you have it! Short reviews of three “American” movies, and three of my favourite movies (though ironically, I’ve yet to see American Movie). And… which is the best? Well, you can watch them and decide for yourself, but for me this was extremely close between Beauty and Psycho. I’m going to have to go with the first choice, because of its social honesty and some really awesome, tearjerking monologues. Nothing gets me like a good monologue. However, I highly recommend you see all these films, and if you already have, tell me what you think down below in the COMMENTS!!!

Thanks for reading.

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About Tyler

Patient observer of all things film and music, from Béla Tarr to Boards of Canada. Foul mouthed and clinging to the edge of sanity.

Posted on April 2, 2011, in Lists, Movie Reviews, Movies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. All three are really great movies. And it’s funny that they all came out around the same time. I guess in the late 90’s, American filmmakers forgot where they lived. I’m going to give a cop-out answer and say that I think “American Beauty” is the best of the three, whereas “American Psycho” is the more enjoyable and easier watch.

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