Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fruitvale Station

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Sometime the movies I review are too heavy for me to add any jokes here...this is one of them.

Fruitvale Station – 5 out of 5

I’m normally not a guy who likes to spout off the phrase “Fuck da police” because, if I ever get robbed, assaulted, raped or even murdered, I kinda want those guys to come to my rescue and bring the people who raped and/or murdered me to justice. However, I would be na├»ve to think the police are saints. Like any profession, there are bad apples polluting the basket and giving out bad names to the rest. Usually, in the case of the police, it’s that douche bag you knew from high school who was, most likely, on the football team, didn’t take his education seriously, gave you wedgies for playing Dungeons & Dragons, all the girls liked him and, once the virtual reality that is high school was over, he discovered that, in real life, he doesn’t mean shit to the world and, in an effort to prove he’s still a man and can push weaker folk around, became a cop and has the reputation of abusing his power by lording over teens outside the convenient store, putting on his lights and siren so he can blast through red lights and stop signs, and bragging that if he pulled over one of his friends for speeding, they can easily buy him off by giving him a case of beer...and his name is always Mike Tonston (I'll never forget the wedgie, Mike!). The worst times, and when the cops get the ultimate bad name, is when the cop is so vile that he flat out murders an innocent person.

This is one of those cases.

Fruitvale Station tells the real life story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a formerly troubled young man who is trying to pull his life back together for his mother’s sake, his daughter’s sake and his girlfriend’s sake. We see Oscar go through his daily routine on New Year’s Eve; doing things like prepare his mother’s birthday dinner, drop off his daughter at day care, give up his past that involved drugs and try to fly on the straight and narrow with a possible new job. However, the day takes a massive turn for the worse when, while on a train coming back from celebrating the New Year, Oscar gets into an altercation with a man he had trouble with while in prison and is met by the police when they arrive at Fruitvale Station. While being forcible detained by the officers, Oscar is shot while horrified onlooker film with their cell phones.

You would think that the fact everyone has the potential to film everything all the time
that cops would try to be on their best behavior at all times and not blatantly abuse their
power like, I don't know, kill someone in front of a train full of people...but you'd be wrong.

Kevin Durand plays one of the cops involved and it's clear
the man is actually some sort of giant.
Before you say, “Spoiler Alert, brah!” the film is based on a true story about how Oscar Grant was shot by a D-bag cop using his gun for a dick measuring contest. However, therein lies one of the hardest parts about this film; you already know how it’s going to end…so how do you showcase what happens beforehand? Obviously, you need to create sympathy for Oscar so when he dies at the end of the film, it really hits home and I think director and writer Ryan Coogler really did an amazing job of showing Oscar as a tragic figure who is doing his best to try and get his life together and we, the viewers, already know that all his work will be for nothing as he will meet his end at the hands of a dickhead cop.

It was strange, during the scene when Oscar is saying goodnight to his daughter
before leaving for his ill-fated train ride, a man walked into my living room and
started to cut onions in front of me.

Okay, so the movie is already able to get me to get emotionally involved thanks to the story alone and watching Oscar go about his daily routine but, thanks to incredible performances, I became even more emotionally involved and it ended up causing the end of the film to ring that much louder and truer. Michael B. Jordan has come a long way since I first saw him on The Wire and he continues to prove that he is going to a major, MAJOR contender in the acting game as he only gets better with time…and he was already spectacular when he started. 

The movie takes place in 2009 and few people knew this but flip phones came
equipped with holographic projectors.  True story, no lie.

Jordan was able to make the character of Oscar real and authentic feeling. This definitely resonated because it made Oscar Grant a person, not a headline or a victim in a grainy cell phone video. Jordan’s performance was simple and that’s what made it amazing. He played Oscar like the real person he was and simultaneously engaged me into his story and broke my heart when it came to its untimely end. 

Wanna laugh at the stupidity of the internet?  Google about how people are mad
that Jordan is being considered to play the Human Torch in the new Fantastic Four movie.
Their racism is hilarious...and sad.  But still hilarious.

Jordan’s performance wasn’t the only strong suit in the pack that is this film; he was surrounded by great players. Melonie Diaz played Oscar’s girlfriend and was playing the part in the same manner that Jordan was bringing to his role; Diaz’s performance felt authentic and really helped sell the reality of the situation that Oscar wasn’t just a victim of police abusing their power but was a real person with hopes, dreams and people who cared about him. Finally, Octavia Spencer (The Help) played Oscar’s mom and, if you’ve never seen The Help or are unfamiliar with how great Spencer is in literally anything she plays, then I feel sorry for you, son, because she is keeping her track record high and is amazing to watch in this one.

She's a great actress...but I would never eat any chocolate pie she gave me.

Fruitvale Station is just an emotionally powerful movie that tells the unfortunate true story of a young man trying to get his life in order and just so happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Is this actually how his life went down before the cell phone video that made its way around the 'net?  I don't know, I wasn't there but I can say what unfolded in this film was incredible.  There’s nothing flashy to this movie; it’s just a simple film telling a heartbreaking story and it was worth every second of my time when I watched it.

The feeling of overwhelming rage when learning the cop that killed Oscar
only was tried for manslaughter and served only 11 months in prison is
perfectly normal if you are a human being with the ability to

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