Sunday, August 25, 2013

Now in Theaters: Fruitvale Station

Film: Fruitvale Station
Director: Ryan Coogler
My Overall Rating: 5 stars out of 5
via Wikipedia

There are no surprises in Fruitvale Station, Ryan Coogler's debut feature-length film.  The opening scene is cell phone camera footage of the actual murder of Oscar Grant III at the hands of transit police in Oakland, California, early New Year's Day 2009.  So for the rest of the movie, which recounts the events of the last day of Oscar's life, we the audience know exactly what's going to happen - when, where and how.  All of the devices used to portray the victim as a sympathetic character are direct and to the point - again, no surprises.  Yet everything is executed perfectly.

Oscar, played by Michael B. Jordan, is an ex-con struggling to hold down a job and keep his young family together.  As we follow him through his day, he reveals himself to be a decent, compassionate person despite his obvious shortcomings.  All moments of warmth and joy, all glimpses of a hopeful future are clouded by what we know is coming.  If you don't love Oscar and his family at the beginning of the story, you certainly do by the end.  When the loss finally hits, it's devastating. 

Of course, that's the whole point.  Coogler, all of 27 years old himself, wanted to establish the character as something more than just a name in the news, more than a martyr.  Oscar is human,  a friendly man, easy to like.  He is flawed, just like all of the people around him.  Just like us.  His death is unfair and it hurts.

Yes, go see this movie.  You won't see a better one this year.

And bring Kleenex.

12 comments:

  1. My wife wants to see that.
    Probably, we will wait for DVD.

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    1. I don't think it'll lose much on a smaller screen.

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  2. I would love to see this movie. I hear nothing but amazing things about it. But I'll probably have to wait for DVD, too. There's not a theater near me that would be playing it.

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    1. Pickings can be pretty slim here, too, but Burlington does have one respectable art theater: the Roxy.

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  3. This sounds incredible AS. I'm not sure if I'm ready to watch it after recent events in the news, but it'll be in my "Watch" list.

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    1. Understandable. I hope you will check it out at some point, though. With so many big budget busts out there, it's so refreshing to see a well-made film created on a shoestring. The material isn't easy to take but artistically, top marks.

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  4. I saw this. It predictably made me angry and sad.

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    1. Me, too. Unfortunately, cops as barbaric idiots isn't a difficult sell.

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  5. I like Kleenex movies. I haven't seen this one, but it sounds seeable. Full of dramatic tension.

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    1. There is a lot of tension but given that one knows the big details of what's going to happen, there is tension on the micro-level and also a dull, aching sense of foreboding in the back of the mind the entire time.

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  6. When I'm ready for this one I will definitely watch it. I'm glad somebody is making films like this for sure.

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    1. I hope you will, Kerry. I hope you'll share your thoughts when you do.

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