Fruitvale Station Screen 20 articles

Fruitvale Station

2013

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  • Essentially a remake of Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible, but reversed,Fruitvale Station is an exercise in sentimental histrionics and battering-ram manipulation, with the moral of the story being, you’re never too lovable to get whacked. Try, if you might, to choke back the inevitable tears brought on by the climactic 20 minutes, but these are tears which have been earned via crooked means.

  • As the film leads up to that fateful night, every opportunity to milk a tragic moment or overplay an emotional response (really, you had to kill a dog?!) is grabbed with both hands. Still, you can see why people have singled Coogler out. He’s got chops; once he realizes how to temper his storytelling with a bit more nuance and not pitch everything at tsunami-wave level, he’ll be one to watch. Consider this a baby step.

  • I do not doubt the sincerity of the project, but it fits too snugly within what often passes for political discourse in the United States: sentimentalism, embracing the cause of “good people”, defining policies on emotional terms rather than analysing of the socio-political forces at play. Interestingly, while Coogler rightly affirms that “the case changed the Bay area forever”, the film stops with a brief mention of the demonstrations that followed the murder...

  • Oscar Grant may have yearned to dedicate his snuffed-out future to his daughter, but doting on that theme doesn't speak to the larger issue of why he died. Coogler seems to be a sharp handler of actors, but his screenplay goes soft and clumsy when juxtaposing individual racial rapprochement with America's ongoing tragedy of young black men caught in the maelstrom of deadly force.

  • Coogler, who grew up in the same neighborhoods as Grant, evokes a tangible sense of place, and his staging of the climactic incident hits like a fist in the gut. It’s not enough to wipe out his reduction of this real-life figure into a composite-character martyr or the lukewarm filmmaking that’s come before, even if you’re left shaken all the same.

  • Fruitvale Station... tells the story of this tragic incident [involving the death of Oscar Grant], and you’d think that the primary question on its mind would be fairly simple: How did this happen? Unfortunately, writer-director Ryan Coogler poses a different, much less compelling, arguably irrelevant question: How could this possibly have happened to such a swell guy?

  • Sad, but ultimately hollow, because while the actual event... is tragic, the choice of presenting this as a deterministic spiral toward the inevitable reduces Oscar to a patsy in his own movie. Coogler fashions this as a rebuke to anyone who might diminish the human cost here because of the victim’s criminal past, which may be the narrowest possible way of telling the story, especially since he’s largely preaching to the choir.

  • Understatement and matter-of-factness are this movie's main assets, which is why the last 15 minutes really hurt... the hospital vigil feels unnecessary, the family's reactions way too 'Academy Award Winner Octavia Spencer', the final crusading coda is a glib touch. Before that, mostly very absorbing, with a style that's downright un-American - several long takes, unafraid to be awkward, see e.g. the inelegant shot where everyone first gathers at the subway station...

  • Fruitvale, which was written and directed by 26-year-old Ryan Coogler and took home both the U.S. Dramatic Jury and Audience Award, is perfectly respectable (if too aggressively heartstring-tugging) and even important given its anti-police-brutality message.

  • Michael B Jordan's stand-out performance means we're inclined to empathise with Grant regardless of the director's heavy-handedness. Fruitvale Station is an accomplished debut feature, and Coogler deserves credit for humanising and not sensationalising the events surrounding this tragic real-life story. You just can't help feeling there's a better way to tell it.

  • Coogler weaves a comforting web of family around Grant, including his mother (Octavia Spencer) and grandmother (Marjorie Crump-Shears), to show all the more poignantly the intimate devastation wrought by his death. The movie is the model of decency and respect, and does honor to a life unjustly ended; it offers few surprises but is nonetheless shocking.

  • The film has been seen by some as winding audiences up with its shocking tale of a young father’s senseless death. But the knockout punch comes not just from the pay-off but from a dramatically adroit build-up, a strong sense of social milieu, and the emotional range of lead actor Michael B. Jordan.

  • Oscar Grant is what’s missing from movies about young black men. The movie strives to restore to Grant the individuality that the symbolism of tragedy took away. Coogler’s portrait affixes a human face on ones that hoodies willfully obscure.

  • ... An enormously powerful and moving debut feature... Coogler pulls us effortlessly into Grant's world, and though we know how Fruitvale must end, the journey there is marked by small moments of everyday struggle and joy (a family fish fry, a subway train that erupts into an impromptu dance party).

  • Fruitvale Station is intimate in the best way, thanks largely to Jordan's deft, responsive performance. Oscar's last day is filled, as most people's days are, not with big decisions but with small choices. If only he'd done y and not z, would he be alive today? Fruitvale Station doesn't trade in those kinds of equations. Instead, by detailing Oscar Grant's last hours, it suggests that his choices had very little to do with the way he died. But they had everything to do with the way he lived.

  • “Fruitvale Station” is a potent dramatic chronicle of contemporary American life, crackling with energy and possibility, made with the cooperation of Grant’s mother and girlfriend. Built around a subtle and smoldering star performance by Michael B. Jordan... the film is more concerned with capturing the world Oscar Grant lived in than with delivering a journalistic or documentary analysis of how he died.

  • if [Fruitvale Station's] harrowing climax seems to bring together too many explicitly foreshadowed elements in a too-neatly contrived way, its depiction of police confusion and bad behavior, and its sobering hospital scenes, are sufficiently potent to give nitpickers pause as their tear ducts fill up.

  • "Fruitvale Station" reminded me of a social realist classic by Ken Loach ("Raining Stones," "The Wind that Shakes the Barley", "Land and Freedom"). Its volatile, deeply sensitive and charismatic protagonist is in the mold of Loach's working-class antiheroes.

  • [The movie's flaws] dissipate by the time of the superbly staged platform incident, which is tense and genuinely upsetting, even though we’ve been fully prepared for it. An elegiac tone is subsequently fostered by Spencer’s moving performance in the ensuing hospital vigil scene.

  • Shooting on 16mm and integrating documentary footage into the editing, Coogler gives Fruitvale Station a feeling of realism that’s further consolidated by Jordan’s amazing performance. . . . Jordan disappears into role. It’s not so much that he’s self-effacing as that he transfers his own charisma to Oscar, whose large, contradictory personality—by turns tender, volatile, stubborn, and magnetic—is the film’s true subject.

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