Saturday, July 13, 2013
I knew nothing about the true events which Fruitvale Station is based upon - I'm sure the controversial racial implications of Oscar Grant's death reached the East Coast, but sometimes I go underground news wise for weeks at a time, and when I emerge, I don't go back to find out what I missed. I do however pay attention during the Sundance Film Festival. And when I read about Fruitvale Station, winning so much praise, I thought, how dramatic can it be? We know the guy dies. But I was so wrong, the film has real heart and emotional involvement because it is so "day in the life of". As you're watching the events leading up to this senseless end, you become more and more invested in Oscar Grant. By the time the credits roll, you're left with rage and sadness. At least that's how I felt.
Winner of both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, director Ryan Coogler’s FRUITVALE STATION follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), whose birthday falls on New Year’s Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), who he hasn’t been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful four year-old daughter. Crossing paths with friends, family, and strangers, Oscar starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easily. His resolve takes a tragic turn, however, when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year’s Day. Oscar’s life and tragic death would shake the Bay Area – and the entire nation – to its very core.
Another sunny day in Philly turned torrential rain, became the back drop of our interview with Coogler at The Four Season's hotel. In attendance was, Tinsel & Tine blog contributor, Chris "Flood the Drummer" Norris, me (Le Anne Lindsay -might as well give myself a new Google search item) and Thomasena Farrar of MusicMovieThoughts.
T&T: But you don't have like, sort of a spiritual view on the projection of this journey?
RC: Absolutely! I thank God everyday for all of this, ya know what'im saying? And I pray for strength to keep, to keep ummm... to keep working and making the right decisions, cause I had never done any of this before. I hadn't done a feature before. Not that I haven't made a lot of mistakes, and I'm the one who notices them the most. but... I definitely feel that way.
RC: I mean everyone's entitled to their own opinion. I can't tell somebody how to think, ya know what'i mean? We did a lot of research on the film. Everything... every decision we made was based on that research.
T&T: Did you have access to his (Oscar Grant's) actual cellphone? I like the way you superimposed the cellphone image on the screen in several scenes.
RC: Yeah, we had access to a lot! We started with court documents of testimonies, and with a testimony you've got everybody's perspective. And then from there it was talking to the family. I mean people are entitled to their own interpretation, but one thing I often hear is that Oscar's character is too positive. The funny thing about that is, I see what Oscar does in the film and I see him doing a lot of bad things. And it's kinda shocking to me that somebody can look at it and say, that's too positive. And I'm like, whoa - how comfortable are you looking at people that look like Oscar doing negative things? The movie starts off with him using drugs and talking to his girl about how he cheated on her. We show this man in prison, we show him doing stuff that got him in prison. We show him getting in gang related altercations both in prison and on the train, Ya know what I'm saying? I don't know what else... but cause he looks a certain way, people say "he should be doing more negative stuff, this ain't real. This dude don't brush his teeth with his daughter". And I'm like, wait, what?
T&T: I can't believe we're out of time already, we didn't get to talk about Harvey Weinstein or Sundance Labs, but because Tinsel & Tine is a film and food blog, here's a quick question - What was the best thing you ate at Cannes?
RC: Some people we met at the festival invited us to their home for lunch. We had amazing spinach and mushroom quiche and roasted chicken with... what was it? (again addressing fiance)... Caprese salads of buffalo mozzarella, basil and tomatoes.
T & T Lamb Score: 4.5 out of 5
Check Out This Related Post by Blog Contributor
Chris "Flood the Drummer" Norris
“Freedom ain’t free for a black man,” continues Williams, wearing a hoodie and holding a can of Arizona ice tea. “The thirteenth amendment makes freedom free only behind bars at six feet beneath our feet. Manslaughter can be only considered manslaughter if you’re killing a man. So the current comprise is to equate the black man to 3/5 of the human, 3/5 of the man.”
Philly Film, Food & Events Blog