Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

American Me (1992)

Directed by Edward James Olmos

Starring Sal Lopez, Vira Montes, Roberto Martín Márquez, Dyana Ortelli


A good look into Hispanic-American lower-class culture. A combination of Carlito’s Way, Godfather (brother-killing), Shawshank Redemption (prison), and Malcolm X (dramatic rise and assassination) for Hispanics, but it just didn’t have the same punch as any of them. The story just doesn’t build effectively, and the film just wasn’t very well-made. There is no rise and fall to the story, it’s more like a straight line or plateau, almost documentary-like. A few decent moments. Cool ending. The film should have began that way, making nice bookends to give the story more significance. Or focus more on kid who fired that last shot to make it a truly dramatic turning point.

Jumping between English and Spanish (with subtitles) was unrealistic and jarring. Match-cuts (matching the image or sound of two non-continuous scenes) are used so frequently that they become annoying. They are so Brechtian that they should be used only once per movie. Why is there a vicious homo rape scene in every prison movie (Shawshank Redemption)? The cross-cuts with heterosexual love and passion made it particularly nasty in this film. Bad use of music.

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