American History X
American History X is arguably one of the most important movies made with a social purpose in recent history. Derek Vinyard, the protégé to the Neo-Nazi leader Cameron Alexander, murders three African Americans who were attempting to steal his car and is subsequently jailed for three years. His younger brother Danny, previously benevolent, then becomes radicalised.
He vicariously expresses his brother’s hatred and takes his place as Alexander’s protégé. While imprisoned, Derek realises there is no rational nor logical grounding in racist beliefs, and with the help of the school principal Dr Bob Sweeney, he attempts to educate Danny, under the eminent dogma of the American race and diversity educator Jane Elliot: “Anything that can be learned, can be unlearned”. Upon release from prison, Derek is determined to share with the world his newfound beliefs and tries to make up for his previous transgressions before they affect anyone else.
The director of this documentary, Michael Moore, does not like Donald Trump. This is conveyed impeccably throughout the footage reel in this film, but is by no means the only message Moore is transmitting.
Fahrenheit 11/9 offers an intrinsic view of the corruption within American politics, focusing on the aberrant behaviour of political figures, as well as the corrupt nature of both the Democrat and the Republican parties. This leads Moore to examine the effect of the United States’ map politics on the ordinary people of America.
He highlights how Michigan Governor Rick Snyders’ influence-peddling has resulted in blatant long term violation of human rights for the people of Moore’s hometown, Flint. Overall, Fahrenheit 11/9 puts on show the disdain the average American feels toward the US political establishment and its institutions, the reasons why the rift between the calls for change and retaining the status quo is ever-widening, and how the United States is sliding into despotism.
No Country For Old Men
Adapted from the Cormac McCarthy novel of which it is eponymous, and arguably the Coen Brothers’ magnum opus, ‘No Country For Old Men’ is a beautiful mish-mash of a western and a psycho-thriller crime noir. After stumbling upon the scene of a drug-related shootout and leaving with a briefcase filled with two million dollars, Llewelyn Moss tries his luck at running off with all of the money, only to be relentlessly pursued by the psychotic and deranged hitman, Anton Chigurh.
The local sheriff Ed Bell pursues both Chigurh and Moss, only to become a witness to a superfluity of violence, death and carnage. Bell becomes disillusioned with the world as a result of the moral disarray he has been a spectator to and ponders over his place in a world he no longer recognises, the place of the lawful man in the lawless world.
The Social Dilemma
‘The Social Dilemma’ throws social media under the microscopic lens of a documentary. Eye-opening to say the least, it makes for uneasy watching throughout. Through an amalgamation of interviews and dramatic reenactments, director Jeff Orlowski elucidates our place in the relationship between humankind and social media. It shows how social media is designed to entice us and create a desire in us to want to spend more and more time scrolling through our feeds so these sites can financially gain from it.
‘The Social Dilemma’ asserts that in the business model under which social media outlets operate, humans are the commodity, we are the products. This documentary accentuates a fervour which is already felt widely across society; that we have a problem with our social media usage. A quote from the documentary which could not sum up the reality of the state of the relationship between people and social media any better: “There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.”
Jack Collum – Film and Television Writer