American History X is definitely one of those generational films that makes a huge impact on the way young people look at movies, and in my years as a college resident assistant–a job that forced me to systematically visit/inspect the dorm rooms of hundreds of film students and other college kids–I don’t think I spotted any other film’s poster more frequently tacked to the wall. Save maybe for Reservoir Dogs or Trainspotting, of course.
Frankly I haven’t revisited American History X since I first saw it as a younger, more impressionable dude so I don’t really have a bead on the film buff consensus on the film. That paired with the fact that director Tony Kaye’s relationship with the movie (and more specifically its edit-happy lead) is so troubled, it’s tough to categorize the film’s place in the continuum outside of the lasting impact of “Bite the curb!” Also, I’m not sure how to process just now finding out that Tony Kaye look like this:
That brings us to Detachment, the new film from the director that appears to have been shot in a very stripped-down, handheld manner that contrasts heavily with the aggressive stylistic flourishes of American History X and the stark contrast of the black & white Lake of Fire photography. The trailer is built on a very cliche “save the kids” formula chassis, but it seems like the efforts of an editor desperately trying to cut together an inspirational trailer from some very dark, troubled material that lacks much dynamic imagery. The heart of this one clearly lies in the performances, and there are plenty of those to savor: Adrien Brody, Lucy Liu, Christina Hendricks, Bryan Cranston, James Caan, William Peterson, Marcia Gay Harden, Tim Blake Nelson, Blythe Danner, and Renée Felice Smith all appear.
One has to wonder kind of films we might have now, had things played out different for Kaye and American History X, but I’m glad this guy is able to make a movie and actually have it released. His ’09 film Black Water Transit remains photographed but uncompleted because of financing problems with the production company, so even this minor release for Detached is an improvement.
The film has a pre-theatrical VOD release on February 24th, and then hits some number of theaters on March 16th.