American History X

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Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune, awarding American History X four stars out of four, described it as "a shockingly powerful screed against racism that also manages to be so well performed and directed that it is entertaining as well" and stated that it was "also effective at demonstrating how hate is taught from one generation to another. " Siskel singled out Norton's performance and called him "the immediate front-runner" for an Oscar. Todd McCarthy, writing for Variety, gave the film a positive review stating, "This jolting, superbly acted film will draw serious-minded upscale viewers interested in cutting-edge fare. " He gave special praise to Norton's performance, saying "His Derek mesmerizes even as he repels, and the actor fully exposes the human being behind the tough poses and attitudinizing. " The New York Times's Janet Maslin wrote, "Though its story elements are all too easily reduced to a simple outline, American History X has enough fiery acting and provocative bombast to make its impact felt. For one thing, its willingness to take on ugly political realities gives it a substantial raison d'être. For another, it has been directed with a mixture of handsome photo-realism and visceral punch. " Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars out of four, stating that it was "always interesting and sometimes compelling, and it contains more actual provocative thought than any American film on race since Do the Right Thing. " He was critical though of the film's underdeveloped areas, stating that "the movie never convincingly charts Derek's path to race hatred" and noting that "in trying to resolve the events of four years in one day, it leaves its shortcuts showing". Nevertheless, Ebert concluded, "This is a good and powerful film. If I am dissatisfied, it is because it contains the promise of being more than it is. "