Fruitvale

Fruitvale Movie

Editor’s note: This review of Fruitvale Station originally ran during this year’s Sundance film festival where it played under the shorter title Fruitvale. We’re re-running it now as the film sees a limited theatrical release this Friday. Tragedies happen every day throughout the world, but very few of them ever reach the public eye. The overwhelming majority remain private pains in the lives of the families and friends directly involved. One incident that didn’t stay private was the New Year’s Day shooting of Oscar Grant by a police officer in Oakland, CA, in 2009. Various cell phones caught the shooting on video, and an already racially charged city exploded at the sight of a white officer firing on an unarmed black man. But as is often the case there’s far more to the story than those several harrowing minutes of grainy video footage reveal. For better and worse writer/director Ryan Coogler is interested in more than just that incident. Fruitvale focuses on the last, hopeful day in Oscar’s life, but our knowledge of what’s coming hangs heavy over these 24 hours as we know what he can’t. His interactions with family and friends paint a heartbreaking picture of a man trying to atone for past bad behaviors and plan for the future. That should have been more than enough, but like too many people Coogler can’t help but try to turn the man and his story into a symbol and a rallying cry.

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Fruitvale Station

If you’ve been searching for a fact-based film that will reduce you to a puddle of quivering tears for its final act, you might want to consider taking some time to watch something a bit more light-hearted because, what? are you okay? Emotional health aside, yes, we’ve got a film that’s just the ticket, so get out your hankies now (and, if you’re into that sort of thing, perhaps pull out your early Oscar ballots). Ryan Coogler‘s Fruitvale Station (formerly known as just Fruitvale) was a certifiable hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival (the film was so beloved at the festival that our own Rob Hunter’s B- review of the film was considered to be on the contrarian side of things), winning both the audience award and the grand jury prize. Based on the true story of Oscar Grant (played by the thoroughly wonderful Michael B. Jordan), the film traces the unexpected final day of the young man, who was shot by a BART police officer at the Fruitvale station in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2009. While the film takes a few liberties with the true story, it’s one hell of a moving piece of cinema, and it’s rounded out by outstanding performances and a rich filmmaking technique. Yes, it will probably make you cry, but it will be worth it. The Weinstein Company has just released the first poster for the film, which takes a painterly and praise-laden approach to its subject matter, a suitable first look at the soon-to-be-released film. Fruitvale […]

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director_russell

In the latest addition of Release Date Round-Up, just about every single film that needed a release date gets dated, or at least this giant installment of everyone’s favorite release date feature (sure) makes it seem that way. We’ve got dates for every kind of film under the sun (vampires! true life trauma! comic book movies! historical dramas!), including a hefty number of totally new dates (and a smidgen of some simple change-ups) for many of the films. What we’re saying is, there is a lot of stuff here, so better pull out your day planners and get cracking on configuring your movie-watching for the rest of the year. After the break, find out when you can see David O. Russell‘s untitled reunion with his Silver Linings Playbook stars, Christopher Nolan‘s next, and seemingly everything else in between. Your wallet is about to take a big hit.

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Hand stamps

I should have known it was coming on Sunday, when a perfectly attractive young lady who was sitting next to me on a Sundance Film Festival shuttle loudly huffed to a pal sitting behind us, “I haven’t even kissed anyone in a year! I just need to make out with someone tonight. Anyone!” Her sentiments were matched by just about everyone else on Day 5 of the Sundance Film Festival, as I witnessed high school dance-style bump and grind dancing at a swank party at the Grey Goose Lounge, a drunk man on Main St. screaming at a cab driver that he knew that the cab driver won’t pick him because he wanted to have sex with him (surely, sir, it could have nothing to do with the fact that you’re drunk and screaming in the middle of Main St. at two in the morning), and another taxi passenger asking random strangers if they had hookers or blow. Everyone at Sundance has gone mad and sex-obsessed and insane. Me? I was just tired.

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In the early morning hours of New Years Day 2009, police responded to reports of fights at the Fruitvale BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station in Oakland, CA. The facts about what happened next remain in question for some, but this much is clear. Several people were detained, and an officer shot a young man named Oscar Grant in the back while he lay on the ground. Grant died a few hours later, and the officer, Johannes Mehserle, was arrested and charged with 2nd degree murder. Per THR, casting has begun for Fruitvale, a small film from writer/director Ryan Coogler (and producer Forest Whitaker) about the incident that will focus on Grant’s interactions leading up to the shooting. Octavia Spencer has signed on as Grant’s mother while Michael B. Jordan has been cast as Grant. It’s unclear at this point how much of the shooting’s aftermath will come into play, but in a world still reeling from the Trayvon Martin murder in Florida it’s sure to have a prominent role. Mehserle is white, and Grant is black, so the tragedy caught immediate national attention thanks in no small part to fuel thrown on it by cynical race-baiters. The specifics of the incident were quickly dismissed in favor of generalized statements of police brutality, accusations of racism and subsequent protests and riots. The reaction and suspicions are almost understandable on a general level, but the indifference towards common sense and the truth did a disservice to Grant, Mehserle and society as […]

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
C-
published: 10.24.2014
C-


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