Sunday, August 11, 2013

"Fruitvale Station," Directed By Ryan Coogler

"Fruitvale Station," the powerful debut film of director Ryan Coogler, 27, depicts the true story of the shooting death of Oscar Grant III (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old black man, by a white Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer, Johannes Mehserle, in Oakland, CA on New Year's Eve, 2009. The film reconstructs the last day of Grant's life as he dotes on his daughter, Tatiana; reassures her mother, Sophina (Melonie Diaz), about his loyalty; shops for his mother Wanda's (Octavia Spencer) birthday party and tries to get his job back at a supermarket. Grant is not idealized; he lost his job due to lateness, was incarcerated for selling drugs and has strayed in the past from Sophina. Both Sophina and Wanda want him to be responsible, and Grant is struggling to get his life in order. The film, though, hurtles toward its tragic climax as Grant, after celebrating the new year in San Francisco with friends, is challenged to a fight by a white thug on a BART train. Following the melee, the police at the station are shown grabbing the black–but not the white–youths from the train. On the platform, Grant is shot in the back by the officer, who claimed that he mistook his Taser for his gun. Grant died and the officer was fired and served 11 months for involuntary manslaughter; many in Oakland were angered by the verdict. One recalls the death of Trayvon Martin when watching this deeply affecting, tragic account, which calls into question whether justice is delivered when the needless death of a young black man is under consideration.

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