Welcome to The Daily Cup a movie blog/writing project by Kyle B. Dekker, presented by Hot Chocolate Media. You can read series concept here. The basic rules, Kyle must watch 365 movies in 2018 and write about all of them. 292 of them have to be movies he's never seen before. Thanks for reading.
By know if you haven’t heard of writer/director Ryan Coogler, you are likely living under a rock. His latest offering Black Panther is smashing box office records and setting social media ablaze. Before Coogler amazed audiences with the latest MCU installment, he got his feature debut with Fruitvale Station (2013). A biopic about the last 24 hours Oscar Grant spent alive before being killed by a BART Police Officer. This low budget film clues us into the emotional and character driven side of Coogler that is ever present in Black Panther and Creed.
The true story of Oscar Grant (played by Michael B, Jordan) is heartbreaking and happened just before the age of real social awareness of the killings of black men at the hands of police. Some people may argue revisiting his death reopens old wounds, but to me it is an important story to keep telling. Maybe one day with all of the violence towards unarmed black men from law enforcement in our face, more and more people will take a stand and people like Oscar will bet the protection and justice they deserve. Much of what we know about the shooting came from cell phone video taken from the scene of the murder by witnesses. Coogler opens the film with some of that footage and then recounts the last day of Oscar grant from there.
Coogler paints Oscar Grant as a loving and emotional young man. He is a father, and loves his mother Wanda (Octavia Spencer), and his daughter. He has anger issues as highlighted in a flashback in his time in prison and an interaction with his former supermarket supervisor. We also are shown Oscar Grant cares very deeply about those people around him, and at the end of the day is just a man looking to make his place in the world and take care of his family. His world comes crashing down when a subway altercation leads to BART police officers detaining Grant and his friends, and then a police officer taking the unarmed Grant’s life from him, shooting him in the back. The story is sad tragic, and like the real case largely unsatisfying. The officer who murdered Grant served 11 months for manslaughter, and is now a free man.
The biggest standout of this film is the performance from Michael B. Jordan. This man is a superstar and the hints of that can be seen in this film. He shows vulnerability, love, and anger that all humans experience. He conveys it in a very relatable way on screen, a performance that really has us devastated when Oscar Grant is killed. Octavia Spencer also does an excellent job as Wanda, Oscar’s mother. The scenes following the shooting really display her ability to exhibit real grief on screen.
Fruitvale Station is a fantastic low budget debut from one of the biggest directors working in Hollywood today. It’s a very real human story, that has a couple of contrived moments used to elicit emotion that aren’t needed thanks to the strong performance from Michael B. Jordan. Ultimately it makes you want to learn more about hte real events, and all good true event films spur that kind of desire to learn more. The skill and care of telling a great story are very evident and it’s no surprise to me that Coogler is now making some of the best films in Hollywood.
Movies new to me watched: 40/292
Other movies: 9/73
Total movies watched: 49/365
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