Excellent directorial debut from Edward James Olmos.
Oct 20, 2009
American Me was the directing debut of long time character actor Edward James Olmos. This film is a historical fiction depiction of the rise of La Emme, The Mexican Mafia. The movie follows the lives of three street gang members who by a sad twist of fate end up in Juvenile Hall. From there they graduate to the big time. Folsom Prison. Inside these, walls the three form the most powerful gang inside the California Penal System. Co-stars William Forsythe and Pepe Serna as the other founders of La Emme.
Olmos turns the story into a Shakespearean tragedy. A story about a dangerous cycle that repeats over and over within certain communities and how the lack of education can be dangerous. Like they say, an idle mind is the devil's playground. Many of these characters had too much "idle time" before they hit rock bottom. Olmos' direction, editing and use of lighting is that of a long time film-maker. The cinematography complements his directorial style. He makes these figures into noble persons who live and die by a code forged from blood, shanks and sweat. Great stuff from Mr. Olmos, a true masterpiece from a first time director.
Sadly, Mr. Olmos has took a lot of flack for this film and has made some powerful people very angry. If I were him I would have taken a safer route and gave the prison gangs some fake names and cut all ties to any "Technical Support" but that's not his style. He should be commended for his efforts because others wouldn't have the courage or conviction to do this. Mr. Olmos doesn't glamorize the lifestyle either. Although they're men of honor amongst themselves I wouldn't want to be in their shoes. But what people have to do to stay alive in prison should not be looked down upon and on the other hand, when one's on the outside they should leave what they learned within the prison walls. Because it's a whole different ball game out here.