Friday, September 27, 2013


Hello all!

When you have a chance, head over to The Pink Smoke to see my first installment in "The Whole History Of My Life" series. 

And in October I'll be covering new films from Claire Denis (Bastards), Jim Jarmusch (Only Lovers Left Alive) & Alexander Payne (Nebraska) at this years' New York Film Festival followed by another appearance on the Inside The Phoenix podcast to discuss what I saw...

(Top to Bottom: Bastards, Only Lovers Left Alive & Nebraska)

Monday, September 23, 2013


I'm not a diehard Pedro Almodovar fan but I do recognize that he is an important figure in modern cinema and, like I mentioned in my recent write-up on The Paperboy, he has a pretty unique visual style and that counts for something (when I think of his work, the term; "NEON-noir" comes to mind). But my issue with Almodovar's work is that in the last ten years or so, his films have become SO formulaic that I can practically predict half of whats going to happen in the story along with half of the characters we're going to see - the overly feminine gay male caricature, the transgender character, the religious figure (nun or priest or both) and the ridiculously handsome straight male lead. And at some point in his films, someone will be raped, the music will be overly dramatic, the colors in his films will be extra bright (we get it, Pedro - you like pink, orange & red) and half of the story will be told out of chronological order. I'm not the only person whose called Almodovar out on his recent predictability. Ever since Bad Education through Broken Embraces, there's been endless reviews that have complained about the very same thing.
At first glance, one would think Almodovar took these criticisms in to consideration with The Skin I Live In - there are no transgender characters this time around (...or so we think), for the first time in a while we get a gay female character instead of strictly gay men and Almodovar went back to working with his old collaborator; Antonio Banderas, after over two decades.

But in reality, The Skin I Live In is a middle finger in disguise from Almodovar to people like me and others who've complained about him in recent years. 
He still recycles the same themes & elements but this time around he made it work and managed to make one of his best films since Talk To Her (almost 10 years ago). Not that The Skin I Live In is a game-changer (although it did make the top 10 in the honorable mention category of my 2011 wrap-up) but its still a major improvement from what he's been doing. 

I'm not even offended by the middle finger Pedro Almodovar gave to all the critics. Its reminiscent of his early work (which, on some level, were carbon copies of John Waters' early films, but still...). It's a cliche statement, and it almost makes me cringe writing this but, Almodovar's early work was very "punk rock" and anti-establishment when compared to other classic Spanish filmmakers from the late 70's/early 80's. Instead of dealing with the impact Franco had on Spain in the same poetic/artsy way as Carlos Suara (Cria Cuervos) & Victor Erice (The Spirit Of The Beehive & The South), Pedro Almodovar pretty much jumped on a chair, pulled his dick out and slapped it against the camera lens as if to say; "There's gay people in Spain, we listen to loud noisy music, we dye our hair green and have free will!" As far as Spanish cinema goes, I prefer the work of Erice & Suara over Almodovar but I still respect him for not trying to be another slow "artsy" Spanish filmmaker. The Skin I Live In is FAR more mature than Labrynth Of Passion (1982) or Pepi, Luci & Bom (1980) but his approach is still the same - "Fuck you. I'll make what I want." 

In The Skin I Live In, Antonio Banderas plays "Robert Ledgard" - a radical plastic surgeon whose invented a new type of artificial skin (imagine stockings for the whole body) specialized for burn victims. The inspiration for Ledgard's invention came from his wife who was badly burned in a car accident years ago leaving her almost unrecognizable (she eventually committed suicide after seeing her deformed face). In addition to his wife, Robert's teen daughter, who was mentally unstable, also killed herself after she was sexually assaulted. The death of Robert's wife & daughter, which both took place over the span of a few years, has caused him to go quietly insane. I say "quietly insane" because to the outside world he seems fine but behind closed doors he's losing his grip on reality and is working on a disturbing experiment that we slowly see unfold through the course of the film.
***SPOILER ALERT (skip ahead to the next paragraph if you haven't seen this and are planning too)*** 
As it turns out, Robert has been keeping a beautiful woman ("Vera") captive in his mansion and experimenting on her. But as the story unfolds we discover this woman was once a young man ("Vicente"). And not just any man. This was the same man who sexually assaulted his daughter which ultimately triggered her suicide. As a form of revenge Robert kidnapped and performed various surgeries on Vicente in an effort to transform him in to a woman (anatomy and all). However, during the transformation, Robert falls in love with his creation (he kinda made him/her look a little too beautiful) and forms a romantic relationship with the newly transformed Vera whose now suffering from a bit of Stockholm syndrome. 
Although two different actors play the part (Elena Anaya for Vera & Jan Cornet for Vicente) Almodovar cleverly cast Cornet for the part of Vicente because his body frame is a tad bit small for an average man which makes the male to female transformation angle more believable (midway in to the film I found myself noticing how tiny he is but when its revealed that he's to be transformed in to a woman, it all made sense). 

There's some underrated imagery in The Skin I Live In. Almodovar even throws in a Bergman/Persona reference...

I understand the revenge aspect of the story but once Almodovar throws in the love angel I get completely thrown off. One minute you want revenge on the person who raped your daughter and triggered her suicide then you end up falling in love with the very same person later on? I get that Vicente has been completely changed in to someone else but I thought this element of the story was a little strange.  
Upon my initial (and only) viewing of The Skin I Live In, I wasn't sure if I liked this or not. It felt like an odd mixture of The Bride Of Frankenstein & Oldboy with a touch of Hitchcock. But over time I grew to appreciate it very much. The Skin I Live In is surprisingly darker than I thought it would be and Antonio Banderas' over the top acting, which is sometimes difficult to take seriously, fits perfectly with the tone of the film. It's as if he drew upon Dr. Mabuse, Caligari & Nick Cavanaugh (Boxing Helana) for inspiration.
For something directed by such a big name, The Skin I Live In certainly came and went pretty quickly in the U.S. I wrote about this from memory (I saw it over two years ago) so I guess that says something about the small impact it had on me. Almodovar seems to be returning to form with his latest film (I'm So Excited) which makes The Skin I Live In stand out more among his recent body of work. I'm always hesitant to say this when it comes to recent work of important modern filmmakers but The Skin I Live In may be one of Almosovar's best.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Edie McClurg in Ferris Bueller's Day Off
I recently discovered the excellent podcast; Film Spotting, which dedicates quite a bit of its content/cinema talk to movie lists. On a recent film spotting episode co-hosts; Adam Kempenar & Josh Larsen got in to their lists on great character actors or actors with memorable faces but forgettable names (Steven Tobolowsky, James Cromwell, M Emmett Walsh, etc). To my surprise they DID mention one or two female character actors but I was still disappointed that they didn't mention any of the actresses I consider to be in that iconic/all-star line-up of modern female character actors. Names like; Graze Zabriskie (a regular of Gus Van Sant & David Lynch) & Frances Bay (another David Lynch regular or, for those who don't know Lynch's work that well, Adam Sandler's grandmother in Happy Gilmore) or even Loretta Divine & Lupe Ontiveros who could be considered more as type-cast actresses (I mean for christ's sake, the word "maid" automatically pops up next to Lupe Ontiveros' name when you google search it. No, seriously it does). But for all intents & purposes of this write-up I'll consider them straight-up character actresses.

Loretta Devine in Urban Legends: Final Cut
It's easy for supporting women to go unnoticed in cinema. It's a common thing in real life so why wouldn't it happen in the movies? Prominent film directors in popular cinema ARE mostly white males and unfortunately their Achilles heel comes in to play when its time to develop a character that isn't a white male. Furthermore, and I know this is gonna sound corny & cliche, but society still has a lot of complicated issues when it comes to how women are portrayed on film so unfortunately its easier to label a female actress as simply typecast instead of calling her a character actor. 
Adam & Josh's conversation on their podcast got me to think about all the  high profile female-less character actor lists on IMDB, rotten tomatoes, entertainment weekly,, etc and I felt compelled to give my 2 cents on the lack of recognition for the female character actor. I also just recently watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off which features one of the true varsity letterwomen; Edie McClurg (Back To School, Planes Trains & Automobiles, She's Having A Baby).

Now, Edie McClurg, Lupe Ontiveros & Loretta Devine are kinda like; "female characters actors: 101". What about all the unsung/underrated ones out there? 
How is it that actors like Willem Dafoe & Philip Seymour Hoffman are wrongfully labeled as great character actors and always seem to find a spot on some reputable "greatest character actors" lists over the likes of O-Lan Jones (the odd receptionist from How I Got In To College & the flirty waitress at the beginning of Natural Born Killers) or Grace Zabriskie?

Grace Zabriskie in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
Its no mystery that the world of the character actor is a male dominated field (h
onestly, if you asked me to do a top 25 list of great female character actors I'd be struggling after 10 or 15 names) and its heightened mostly because the greatest character actors are the likes of; JT Walsh, Ronny Cox, Michael Ironside, Warren Oates, William Forsythe, Ted Levine and other unique, often times menacing men who sometimes outshine and overshadow the leading men/A-list actors they share the screen with. Those men are downright intimidating. Imagine you're a woman in a room full of loud men shouting over each other trying to get a word in. Not to sound sexist but its not the easiest task for a woman to find her voice in that setting no matter how tough or resilient she may be. Instead, prominent character actresses have been subtly injected in to our psyche since childhood as "the mom", "the receptionist", "the seductress", etc. 
Whats so interesting is that film commentary, film criticism & movie list making is another male dominated field and a lot of these great character actresses have appeared in films geared towards mostly little boys & men, yet the very same men, who dominate film criticism to a certain extent, fail to ever mention the women they essentially grew up watching. Take Mary Ellen Trainor for example - she was the mother in two of the greatest "rag tag group of kids on a mission" movies of all time: The Goonies & Monster Squad. Do you realize what an honor that is? Stop and think about that for a second. Shes like the Dennis Rodman of female character actors (for those that don't get the comparison, Dennis Rodman was a staple in two of the most dominating modern basketball teams of all time; The Detroit Pistons & The Chicago Bulls). Lets also not forget her role as the stressed-out police psychiatrist in the Lethal Weapon movies. With all the male film critics and commentators out there who grew up watching Goonies, Monster Squad & Lethal Weapon its strange that this bug-eyed/worried mom prototype never gets a shout out on any of the greatest character actors lists (not to say females don't love Goonies & Monster Squad, but you get what I mean...)

Mary Ellen Trainor in Goonies

Speaking of female character actors in male dominated films, who could forget this mouth in The Warriors...

Lynne Thigpen's mouth in The Warriors
Like a lot of great character actors, Lynne Thigpen is another one of those; "Oh that actress...whats her name?" actors. She's usually cast as the bitchy/stern/annoying/condescending woman most famously portrayed in Lean On Me. I cant think of too many performances that made me HATE the character so much that I also hated the actor playing the role as well. Be honest - we all wanted this woman to die in Lean On Me, or at the very least severally hurt.

What makes these character actressss just as special as anyone else for me personally is that they followed me from childhood (The Wizard) in to my transitional period of film discovery (Donnie Darko) in to the big ambiguous world of cinema that I love today (Safe). Take Beth Grant for example - She's proven that no matter what the plot or setting, there's always room for the bible thumping, god fearing, extremely judgy, sometimes frantic, tight faced, preachy southern woman. Obviously, the reason she goes over so well as an actress is because, like most character actors, she's given to us in small doses throughout a film (like Donnie Darko) or just has one or two memorable scenes in an entire film (like her roles in Safe or No Country For Old Men). 
This is what made people like JT Walsh, the quintessential character actor, so great. Although he had heavy/prominent supporting roles in films like Red Rock West, Pleasantville & Needful Things, his best performances, in my opinion, were in films like House Of Games or The Grifters where he was only featured in one extended scene/sequence yet he left such a lasting impression.
(this clip below also features the great character actor; Charles Napier)

This is partially why I hesitate to include Loretta Devine among the list of great character actresses as shes featured a little too prominently in films. Shes the kind of actress who should be taken in small doses. But putting my personal opinions aside, like her ties with Tyler Perry, she's still one of the great modern character actresses and was just as much a part of my childhood cinema (Class Act) as any of the other actresses mentioned in this write-up.

Beth Grant in Donnie Darko
Actresses like Beth Grant & Grace Zabriskie also have the power to make awful movies watchable which is another common trait among great character actors. Would you have really sat through all of To Wong Tong Fu, Thanks For Everything; Julie Newmar had it not been for Beth Grant's presence? What about The Passion Of Darkly Noon? That's seriously one of the worst movies ever made yet I've seen it numerous times because of Grace Zabriskie. Naturally I'm a bit biased towards Grace given her connection to the world of David Lynch but all that aside she is quite an amazing actress. Part of me almost wants to call her a versatile/chameleon-like actress instead of just a character actor. Grace Zabriskie's existence is a little more important than most because unlike other prominent character actresses, she almost never plays "the secretary" or other typical roles like that. Instead she plays roles like the creepy hitwoman in Wild At Heart, the creepy next door neighbor in Inland Empire or the female "John" in My Own Private Idaho. And when she does take on roles like "the mom" (like on Twin Peaks or Drugstore Cowboy) she plays them so differently.
I witnessed her screen power first hand for nights in a row in 2006 at the New York Film Festival screening of Inland Empire. The moment her character was introduced, the audience was completely captivated by her for the next 7+ minutes (even when half the audience didn't even know what they were watching). Edginess is something almost exclusively associated with male actors yet Grace Zabriskie breaks that notion. You never know if she's gonna chase after you with a knife or have a nervous breakdown.

I'm aware this write-up isn't some revelation. I'm sure if you go to IMDB or do a google search you'll come across a decent greatest character actresses list or two but I'm sure those lists aren't very thorough. 


Ok, I just did a quick search myself and the first few lists I'm finding are listing Patrician Clarkson & Viola Davis as character actors so nevermind. Maybe there actually aren't any decent lists out there. 
Not to sound too arrogant but how many of you reading this (besides possibly John Cribbs & Chris Funderberg) looked at any of the actresses I've mentioned in this write-up as character actors? Names like Beth Grant, Grace Zabriskie and a few others should be mentioned alongside the likes of JT Walsh, Harry Dean Stanton & Ronny Cox.

Friday, September 6, 2013


Although Carlos Reygadas' sophomore feature fits in just fine with the rest of his filmography, it’s still probably the most brutal & explosive thing he's done minus the last 10 minutes of Post Tenebras Lux where we see a man rip his own head off, followed by a scene of blood falling from the sky. Battle In Heaven is an excellent mixture of beauty (the camera work and the lead actress) & grittiness (unsimulated sex & blowjobs involving traditionally unattractive people and a brutal murder involving a machete). This was also his least Tarkovsky-influenced work which proved he could make a film without having to emulate and/or tip his hat to his idol like he does so often. If anything, Battle In Heaven is more of an homage to Bresson - besides the monotone performances from the non-professional actors (a key element in Bresson's cinema) Reygadas makes a direct reference to Bressons' Une Femme Douche in one scene...

Sophomore features can be quite important for an emerging filmmaker in the position Carlos Reygadas was in after the release of his first film (Japon). There's this pressure to deliver an equally great work. Japon was somewhat of a success in the art house world and I imagine people were expecting something just as great with his next feature. Battle In Heaven was released in the intimidating year of 2005 where veterans like Michael Haneke (Cache), Terrence Malick (The New World), Gus Van Sant (Last Days) and Jim Jarmusch (Broken Flowers) all released some of their best work. 2005 also saw other important and/or modern day heavyweights like The Dardenne Brothers (The Child), David Cronenberg (A History Of Violence) and Lars Von Treir (Manderlay) release highly anticipated works that turned out to be just "ok", underwhelming or disappointing. 
Like any Reygadas film, Battle In Heaven divided audiences. It’s one of those films people either passionately love or violently hate (I personally know folks on both sides of the fence). Nevertheless, Battle In Heaven still ended up on plenty Top 10 lists at the end of 2005 and some even consider it to be one of the best films of the last decade. I give Carlos Reygadas a lot of respect because he didn’t play it safe with his second feature. It would have been a lot easier to follow up Japon with a film like Silent Light (his third feature), which is still radical in its own way but not in the same explosive & gritty way as Battle In Heaven. Reygadas took a lot of risks with this film. Somehow he manages to make the most tasteless sounding scenarios seem intriguing & watchable. Battle In Heaven is almost intentionally alienating & off-putting and I love that...

Its [Battle In Heaven] my problem child, and therefore the film of mine I love the most - Carlos Reygadas

In Battle In Heaven we follow "Marcos" - A personal driver for a rich diplomat's daughter ("Anna"). Even though she doesn't need to, Anna works on the side as a "madame" or prostitute (its unclear) in a somewhat upscale brothel. Besides his job as a driver, Marcos is involved in a few other side hustles like; selling novelty items on the subway, picking berries on a farm and...kidnapping. As it turns out, Marcos and his wife were involved in the kidnapping of a baby for a ransom. And to make things worse, the baby died while in their custody and they have to figure out what to do (none of this info is a spoiler. you learn this early on). When pressure starts to build up inside of Marcos he feels the need to get things off his chest and he confides in Anna (whom Marcos is also in love with). Although Anna doesn’t tell anyone, she still advises him that the right thing to do is to confess and turn himself in.
For the rest of the film Marcos struggles internally with what to do and looks to a higher power for some kind of an answer.

The relationship between the two main characters is complex. Marcos sees Anna as somewhat of an angel, while Anna kind of pities Marcos and looks down on him. Marcos is sexually attracted to Anna, while Anna is not attracted to Marcos at all (even though she does have sex with him at one point). Anna seems more curious & intrigued by Marcos. The care that they have for one another is a bit imbalanced but at the end of the day Anna does genuinely care for him.

If you’re familiar with Reygadas’ work then you know he has quite a bit of Mexican pride (the presence of the Mexican flag is pretty heavy throughout this film). However, Battle In Heaven is one of the few cases where he expresses some criticism towards his homeland (at least that's what I see). Class & money are an underlying issue in Battle In Heaven and quite a few questions arise from this film – Is Carlos Reygadas trying to show sympathy for Marcos? Is he trying to say that if the economic & social state in Mexico wasn’t as corrupt & imbalanced that Marcos wouldn’t have to work three jobs and eventually resort to kidnapping just to get money?
It’s clear Reygadas gets off on posing questions and developing scenarios that will have people talking, debating & arguing for a long time.

Besides Reygadas’ talent for making tasteless things look...tasteful, he also has a talent for throwing religion in to his work without shoving it down our throats like Abel Ferrara or Terrence Malick. Reygadas doesn’t even show religion in the most subtle way either. There are many religious elements in Battle In Heaven like crosses, churches and we see Marcos giving himself up to god in the end. The last half hour of Battle In Heaven is pretty much all about god, faith, evangelism & redemption. The religioun factor in Battle In Heaven brings up even more questions - when you confess/own up to a crime (no matter how awful it is) and give yourself to god (for those that believe in God) does that absolve you of your sins? Can anyone really be “saved”? Battle In Heaven fits right alongside the cinema of Hal Hartley (specifically Unbelievable Truth, Trust, Simple Men, Amateur & Henry Fool) as well as the cinema of Bruno Dumont (L’Humanite, Hors Satan & Hadweijch). All of these films deal with a lot of the same themes (redemption, forgiveness, religion, god, the struggle between what's right & wrong, etc) and the main characters in all of these films share the same qualities (mysterious loners with a spotty past who have all committed some kind of crime but are kind of likeable and have redeemable qualities) 

As much as I love Battle In Heaven there's a few parts that I haven’t fully worked out in my head - the opening & closing scenes where Anna is giving Marcos a blowjob (is that supposed to represent “Heaven” for Marcos?), the scene where Marcos is masturbating with no emotion on his face while watching a soccer game on TV (I don’t really understand that one). 

It’s obvious this film is told from Marcos' point of view but Carlos Reygadas takes it one step further in certain scenes by literally putting us inside Marcos' head and we see the world through his eyes like we did in Enter The Void or parts of Being John Malkovich. In one scene two girls walk up to the camera and speak directly to us/Marcos. In another scene we see Anna's true beauty through Marcos' eyes as she walks down the street in front of him and, just like the little girls in the previous scene, she address the camera directly as if she's talking to us/Marcos. These moments felt like a precursor to his latest film (Post Tenebras Lux) which is seen mostly through a distorted first person perspective. 
Reygadas’ body of work has a cohesiveness & connection unlike most filmmakers working today. Along with Lucrecia Martel (La Cienaga, The Headless Woman) he’s probably the most important figure in Latin-American cinema at the moment (even if there is a hint of upper-class elitism in his work from time to time).

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


In the mid/late 80's there was a string of films made about the atrocities that were going on in South Africa at the time (Cry Freedom, A Dry White Season, Mandela, etc) that my father would avoid because he couldn’t stomach all the scenes of Africans being beaten & murdered. At the time I use to think he was being dramatic when he'd leave the room whenever one of those movies would come on cable but now that I'm older I get where he was coming from with the release of Fruitvale Station. The silent generation had Rosewood (and countless other lynchings), Baby Boomers had Emmitt Till (and, like Rosewood, a ton of other cases just like it), Generation X had Rodney King and Generation Y, my generation, had Oscar Grant & Trayvon Martin. Given that the release of Fruitvale Station coincided with the Trayvon Martin aftermath, I wasn't in the right mindset to rush out and see this as there were some pretty fresh wounds that weren't healed yet with George Zimmerman being found not guilty. Say what you want about how you knew Zimmerman was gonna get off but I honestly thought SOME kind of justice would be served.

My initial reason for not wanting to see Fruitvale Station is because I already saw the real video from many different points of view on the internet. Why see a drawn out movie version of something when I already saw the real thing? All that's gonna do is piss me of again regardless if the film is good or not. Actually it would have pissed me off twice as much if Fruitvale Station was bad, which it isn’t. Fruitvale Station is hardly bad but it’s far from great. It’s certainly powerful but in an uneven kind of way. 
Even now I almost don’t wanna write about this film because I have a criticism of it (which I'll get in to shortly) and I honestly fear (some) people can’t disassociate Oscar Grant, the real person, from the movie and will think I'm criticizing him. 
Another reason I didn’t wanna write about this film has to do with my own insecurities partially due to the expectations some people may have on a guy like me (on three occasions, before I actually saw Fruitvale Station, I was asked what I thought about it instead of being asked if I'd seen it in the same way customers at the video store I use to work at would automatically ask me what I thought about the latest Tyler Perry release or whatever film that happened to be out at the time that co-starred Cedric The Entertainer and/or Anthony Anderson). It's in the same vein as that assumption, made equally by both black people & white people, that Spike Lee is automatically my favorite director because I'm black and he's black. I genuinely don’t wanna be the black guy who writes about "black movies". Why do you think I avoid writing about Spike Lee so much on here? Because in a way, it’s expected of me. 
But at the end of the day I can’t let that stuff stop me from watching & writing about a film that everyone is talking about on a site that a descent amount of people read...

I feared Fruitvale Station would fall victim to portraying the protagonist out to be some kind of realistic/believable saint out of fear of judgment from ignorant fox news watching, Rush Limbaugh listening, Ted Nugent loving conservatives who went out of their way to make Oscar Grant out to be a good for nothing thug (which is their way of saying he got what he deserved). As I assumed, the majority of Fruitvale Station fell in to that trap. Conservatives, racists and other Oscar Grant detractors aren't gonna be swayed by this film. All you needed to do was watch the coverage on Fox news leading up to the release of Fruitvale Station to see they already judged/hated it before they saw it so why indirectly cater to them and essentially try to prove something to that crowd? 
I'm not saying Director Ryan Coogler did this intentionally but its written all over the tone of the film.

In the first hour of Fruitvale Station Grant, played by Chronicle co-star Michael B. Jordan, helps a dog off the street that’s been hit by a car, gets his grandmother to give cooking lessons to woman over the phone, decides he's gonna stop selling drugs and dumps $1,000 dollars worth of weed in to the ocean to prove to himself he really means it. Coogler still makes it a point to show Grant's faults & short comings in life - he cheated on his girlfriend, he lies & has a temper but at the end of the day that stuff is overshadowed by all the good stuff he does in a matter of a few hours. I don’t know if those events happened or not because I wasn’t there but in all honesty, it didn’t really fascinate me. What fascinates me is how someone could be face down, handcuffed, surrounded by three cops and still get shot (only to have the cop who shot Grant get out of prison after 11 months). Apparently the BART cop who shot Oscar Grant mistook his real gun for his taser gun. It's scary to think that there's trusted officers of the law in existence who mistake a taser gun for a real gun (and I personally don’t care what kind of pressure he/she may be under. There's training for that as far as I'm concerned).

Understand that part of my criticism comes from personal preference. I understand the choice to focus on the last 24 hours of Grant's life. Generally speaking, we all fall in to that groove of a daily routine and usually take 24 hour periods for granted. The last thing we expect is to get murdered. So narrowing the subject's life down to his final day where he does a bunch of small yet meaningful acts makes sense when I take a step back and look at the film from a far.

But at the same time, Oscar Grant coulda laid around for the last 24 hours of his life and scratched his nuts for all I care. He was still executed (accidentally or not) and the whole world saw it on the Internet yet no real justice was served. Not to take anything from Jordan & Octavia Spencer, who were both great, and call me cliche, but Fruitvale Station would have possibly been a more effective documentary. 

Oscar Grant's murder may have been the first injustice of that magnitude to be "embraced" & spread through social media.
Ironically, the same people who screamed about justice for Oscar Grant on MySpace & Facebook could have cared less the day of his murderers sentencing as they were more enthralled by Lebron James' decision to go play for the Miami Heat which was happening at the exact same time...

But no matter how flawed I may think it is, Fruitvale Station is still getting tons of praise and positive feedback which is a great thing no matter what. The film's heart is in the right place (which is an understatement) and the last 30 minutes is very effective/powerful. The last third of the film is what really intrigued me. Had Fruitvale Station only been the last 30 minutes it would have been an almost flawless short. I appreciate that a film like Fruitvale Station is getting so much attention & praise (or was even given the green light to be made!) with a cast made up of unknowns, traditionally supporting players (Kevin Durand & Octavia Spencer) and young/up & coming actors like; Michael B. Jordan & Melanie Diaz (thankfully Anthony Mackie & Rosario Dawson, who are both great, are in their mid-30's now and couldn’t be predictably cast in this). 
I also find comfort in the fact that the director of this film is a young male of color around the same age that Oscar Grant would have been if he was alive today.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...