Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Movie Week - Fruitvale Station

I kind of put off watching Fruitvale Station.  I think I was worried about what sort of mindset it would put me in, especially given the current climate. 

But I’m always rooting for alums of The Wire.  And especially for “Wallace.”

Watching Fruitvale Station was inevitable.

I don’t know what I was expecting with Fruitvale Station.  I knew that it was a good film that had gotten a ton of acclaim and had some incredible performances.  I guess I was expecting the worst or if not the worst than at least a flawed movie. 

What Fruitvale Station gives the audience is a portrait of a human being, flaws and all.  It was an experience that really resonated with me.  Like, it hit really close to home. 

I grew up out West, in Tucson, where I had a couple encounters with cops where things could have turned sour.  Both times I was with friends and in hindsight both instances could have gone tragically wrong. 

And when I moved to Las Vegas for a few years, I had a couple of solo run ins with cops, including once where I was pulled over while walking, flashing lights and all.  So I couldn’t help but see a bit of myself in Michael B. Jordan’s portrayal of Oscar Grant. 

Michael B. Jordan does in impressive job of portraying the complex Grant.  He’s a guy who’s far from perfect, but who is also genuinely trying to do good.  He’s a good father and working hard at being a better man.  But mostly Grant is a guy with potential, which makes his fate that much more tragic. 

Equally tragic is the notion that Octavia Spencer’s Wanda suggests the BART as a means of protecting her son.  It’s a cruel twist, but an effective one.   Equally tragic is how his good deed eventually sets things in motion that results in his shooting.

While it’s based on actual events, Ryan Coogler deserves a ton of credit for making this snapshot of a life cut short so effective.  It’s really a film with few flaws.  It’s about a life and the effect of a death. 

But honestly, I’ve got to praise Coogler for knowing when to end the film.  He nailed the ending, which is something few filmmakers, much less first time filmmakers making important films, know how to do.  As I was watching the final scene and feeling it build, part of me was definitely hoping that things would end right there, on that perfect note.  And it did.  I can only think of a handful of films that have stuck the landing, but this is one. 

Fruitvale Station is really an accomplishment and definitely worth your time.

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