Friday, 6 June 2014
REVIEW: FRUITVALE STATION
85 Mins. Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz & Octavia Spencer. Director: Ryan Coogler.
Fruitvale Station was the scene of a most heinous crime committed against a young 22 year old father named Oscar Grant. The station in Oakland, California at New Years in 2009 saw this young man killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer, during a heated scene where he and four of his friends where detained following a fight that broke out on one of the trains. Whilst being brutally restrained by one officer with a boot in his face to the ground, Oscar was then shot in the back by another officer and mortally wounded. Doctors did all they could even removing a lung from this young man but he died just after nine in the morning on the 1st of January, New Years Day 2009. The officer in question claimed he mistook his gun for a tazer. His murder charge was reduced to manslaughter and his two year prison term reduced to 11 months. Mr. Grant's young girl has grown up without the father that raised and took care of her from birth. An example of police brutality and the law being placed in the wrong hands is yet another sick to the stomach, sobering moment that has more significance to more people than just being another statistic to the ever mounting case of paper work in the defence of the rights of people being read theirs. In a bitter taste of the wrong force of police we see something that is you live outside of the U.S. like this writer you may have never witnessed in the news. Until now where we are told this too tragically true story.
It's always incredibly hard to write and even begin to review a film like this based on true events that are too much to bear. You can't label this drama because no matter how amazingly this was acted this actually happened and all too soon ago. In a year where '12 Years As A Slave' woke up the Academy of Oscars to just how brutally bad things where for African Americans decades ago, Oscars story shows us how bad thing still are now. How racism is still tragically very much alive and how the struggles of youth are more than just the blurred lines and good and bad sides of the law. Still this film is just as important as '12 Years' and although you can't really call something so harrowing brilliant, just like '12 Years A Slave' is one of the best and more aptly said most important movies of all-time, 'Fruitvale Station' is one of this years. This emotionally charged film will move you to tears of rage in all its tragedy and what lies before that time in bittersweet, bleak beauty. In a time and tide where we are all too use to the escapism of big budget blockbusters and their fake themes, especially in the scorching hot, lazy Summer season its time we see a film that's been made for meagre thousands move millions. Not because we get to see fine filmaking and acclaimed acting, but instead the report of something so powerful and wrong that its only right we learn and better ourselves and others by not taking it for granted but taking it for what it is. In a day and age where pop stars who need to grow up are being exposed for being racist its time we all ignore those who are ignorant and take a long look at the real issues that are still taking their toll and plaguing us in this modern day. This film of a moment of tragic cruelty that was caught on peoples camera phones addresses exactly this and believe me its time to heed the respectful warnings before this one and really put those phones away. You know what though? I hope we never have to watch a film like this again.
In this app age of disregard its time to really spread the word about something that should no longer be a trend. Abuse and racism it needs to stop and think, like those officers hell-bent on a brutal rage that night, hiding behind their badges but opening up the violence that laid beneath their clenched fists should have. This film not only shows us what happened it also tells the story of Oscar Grant in all his beauty and humanity. A devoted father, son and boyfriend. A man who had made mistakes, but was righting the wrongs and trying to make a better life for himself and his family. This film shows the actual man and human, that the police in question so viciously ignored. There's a lot of good, no great cops out there...but not these. Ryan Cooglers real, raw and respectful direction paints this young mans portrait and with 'The Help' of moving mothering from Octavia Spencer and Melonie Diaz's strong stand by her man this family picture is brought even further into our homes. Still with a courageous cast all the way down to the growing up and maturing so fast Ariana Neal as Grants daughter, no one in this Forest Whitaker produced film does greater service to Oscar than Michael B. Jordan. Like Mike? Then you're going to see why everyone loves him after this in what will remain through his life as one of his greatest and most important performances. The man has received unfair criticism from the shadow of his namesake with the greatest Basketball player of all-time (to be truly fair this kid was born prior to M.J's super success and M.J.B. added the 'B' to his stage name out of respect) to 'Captain America' himself Chris Evans passing the human torch of Johnny Blaze to him for next years 'Fantastic Four' reboot. Still you're about to see just how on fire this hot talent is who has shown true grit in 'The Wire' to comedy chops in Zac Efron's 'Awkward Moment' coming out party. This Jordan rules and number 23 will be proud to share his name. Heart warming and breaking there's no more doubt when it comes to this young man. Its here where this young man shows just as great and actor he is capturing the human side of himself and his role and torching the terrible atrocities that happened in the name of Oscar. Many believe he was Tom Hanks snubbed for one too in this years Academy for a film and role that's right there with '12 Years' and much better than the 'Gravity' and 'Hustle' of the rest. Still speaking to basketball press SLAM recently Jordan played all this down like a pro. After all from his performance to this pictures power you can save the gold for those who don't realise what truly shines. This is more than an award, its a life lesson and legacy. That means more than all that glitters. The only Oscar that matters here is Grant. TIM DAVID HARVEY.