Google+

Bittersweet Biopic Recounts Final Hours in Oscar Grant’s Life

 

Fruitvale Station

Film Review by Kam Williams

 

Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) and his girlfriend, Sophina (Melonie Diaz), were returning to Oakland in the wee hours of the morning after attending a New Year’s Eve 2009 celebration when their crowded train was stopped by police in response to a report of a disturbance. Oscar was among a number of male passengers ordered onto the platform at Fruitvale Station, where he was initially allowed to sit quietly with his back against the wall.

However, he was subsequently ordered to lie on his stomach so that he could be handcuffed and placed under arrest. When he resisted, a struggle ensued during which Oscar could be heard begging not to be Tasered as a cop yelling “bitch-ass [N-word]” forced him to the ground.

Another officer pulled out a pistol and proceeded to shoot unarmed Oscar in the back, prompting the mortally-wounded young father to exclaim, “I got a 4 year-old daughter!” The entire incident was captured on a cell phone by a fellow straphanger who posted the video on Youtube, thereby instantly turning the controversial slaying into an international cause célèbre.

Had Oscar been callously executed or accidentally killed by a cop who had merely mistaken his .40 caliber weapon for his stun gun? Guilt or innocence, a matter ultimately left for a jury to decide, is not the primary focus of Fruitvale Station.

Instead, this bittersweet biopic seeks to humanize the very colorful Oscar Grant by chronicling the serendipitous series of events leading up to his untimely demise. The film unfolds over the course of the last day in the charming 22 year-old’s abbreviated life, a period during which he interacts affectionately with Sophina, their daughter (Ariana Neal), his mother (Octavia Spencer), pals, strangers and other relatives.

For instance, we see Oscar inform his disappointed girlfriend that he’s lost his job as a clerk at the local supermarket. Later, he tucks tiny Tatiana into bed and promises to take her to Chuck E. Cheese the next day. And he ominously takes to heart his mom’s erroneous presumption that riding the train would be a lot safer than driving to San Francisco that fateful night.

Already winning awards at both the Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals, Fruitvale Station marks the remarkable writing and directorial debut of Ryan Coogler. A recent USC School of Cinematic Arts grad, the gifted 27 year-old exhibits the talents of a seasoned veteran here, crafting a character-driven tale that’s touching and emotionally-engaging without resort to either sentimentality or melodrama.

Some of the credit must also go to Michael B. Jordan for his compelling, warts-and-all portrayal of Oscar, a complicated soul with perhaps as many positive attributes as faults. The support cast deserves a share of accolades, too, for ensuring that the palpable production, one well grounded in a sobering, inner-city reality, never hits a false note.

Whether Oscar Grant deserves to be remembered as a martyr or a provocateur, this poignant portrait of him as a flawed free-spirit is moving enough to be remembered come Academy Awards season.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Unrated

Running time: 85 minutes

Distributor: The Weinstein Company

Source: Baret News Wire

Entertainment

Mark Wahlberg Vehicle Revisits BP Oil Spill

  Deepwater Horizon Blu-Ray Review by Kam Williams Mark Wahlberg Vehicle Revisits BP Oil Spill On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, located 41 miles off the coast of Louisiana, exploded when high-pressure methane gas blew out the drill pipe. 11 members of the crew perished in the ensuing fiery inferno which engulfed the platform. The accident also caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history, with over 200 million … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Books

Concerned Father Creates Children’s Book Series To Help Make Learning About Valuable Black History Information Fun Again

  Concerned Father Creates Children's Book Series To Help Make Learning About Valuable Black History Information Fun Again   Orlando, FL (January 16, 2017) – EOTO Books & Publishing announced today the immediate release of “The Christopher OluFela Series of Books for Kids” written by father and creative children’s picture book author Lee Chavous. The books take a unique approach to inform young readers of a rich African American … [Read More its Good for You...]

Art

The Day After the Day Of

  The Day After the Day Of by Paul Ilechko   The sky sheds its tears. This morning is the morning of the day after. The day of mourning, the day after the day of.  I beseech the sky to shed tears in order to wash away the tears on my face.   This is the first day of the time after. This is the beginning of a new time, the days of pain, the days of sorrow. We are in mourning. The sky looks down and sheds its tears for … [Read More its Good For You...]

Real Estate

History Being Sold to the Highest Bidder

  History Being Sold to the Highest Bidder by Amy Lignor   For the longest time, scientists and archaeologists have been confused and bemused by various discoveries they’ve unearthed that offer little or no explanation as to the who, what, and why of the people who created these things or left them behind. Even now, in 2017, there are discoveries being studied; stories that were once legends now have actual bits of proof being found that … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Lifestyle

Groundswell for Chazelle!

  Damien Chazelle The “La La Land” Interview with Kam Williams Groundswell for Chazelle! Damien Chazelle wrote and directed the Academy Award-winning Whiplash which landed five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Chazelle. The movie won a trio of Oscars in the Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons) categories. In 2013, his short film of the same name won the Short Film … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

Carolina Skiff at Miami’s Favorite Boat Show

  Carolina Skiff at Miami's Favorite Boat Show By Craig Lamb You might say “new” is a reoccurring theme of Miami’s favorite boat show coming up soon. A new location with hundreds of new boats, including never-before-seen models being debuted by Carolina Skiff, is a great way to kick off the season. Few boat shows offer buyers the chance to see new boats where they ultimately belong—floating on the water in a real time setting. You can … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

Can Troy Aikman Win MVP?

  Can Troy Aikman Win MVP? by Amy Lignor   What a strange title for an article, aye? Of course the ‘old man’ of the Dallas Cowboys can’t win MVP. Troy Aikman was an elite QB, with three Super Bowl rings to prove that fact. However, Aikman hasn’t actually suited-up since leaving behind his Cowboys uniform in 2001. The number one overall draft pick in 1989, Aikman was the MVP of Super Bowl XXVII, and was elected to the Pro Football … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

Spotlight on Africa

  Spotlight on Africa by Amy Lignor   As the year winds down and comes to a close, it is Africa that is receiving some headlines that call for many changes and improvements to be made in the coming years. It was Ambassador Amina Mohamed (Nairobi, Kenya) that spoke recently about the African Union Commission (AUC) and how the group must provide leadership in the coming years. After all, the nation of Africa is, in truth, the cradle … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

The Grandest New Year’s Celebrations Around the World

    The Grandest New Year’s Celebrations Around the World by Amy Lignor   Oh, yes…there are many, many places to travel in order to ring in that New Year in style. Some people have already stated that they see 2017 becoming one of the ‘best of the best’ years the world has ever seen – from technology to business to education to even “going greener” – heck, green has even been chosen as the top color of 2017. But where should you … [Read More its Good for You...]

Green Living

2017 Will Be Green!

    2017 Will Be Green! by Amy Lignor   This statement is not a “hopeful” imagination talking; it is actually quite true. Very recently the Pantone Color Institute declared that green will most definitely be THE color for 2017. This is a company that calls themselves the “global color authority,” and states that everything from high fashion to trends will be on the green path throughout next year. So…when we look at a “green” … [Read More its Good for You...]