By Gregory Crofton
Pouring rain finally allowed me to rent “Fruitvale Station” at the Redbox. I’d been tempted many times but the downpour made me want to sit down and watch a dark tale with a horribly familiar storyline. A story about the murder of a young black man.
I heard about “Fruitvale” after its premiere at Sundance in January 2013. Audiences raved. It was an important movie form a new young black filmmaker. There were multiple bidders for the film, and Harvey Weinstein emerged the winner paying more than $2 million for it. To date it’s made more than $17 million worldwide. Depending what the marketing for the film cost, it will likely make a lot of money for the Weinstein Company.
An article in Slate examines how close to the truth “Fruitvale Station,” which is based on a real crime, comes. Aisha Harris’ piece includes camera phone video of the shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, footage that’s actually less grainy than the one shown at the start of the film.
Ryan Coogler, the filmmaker who made “Fruitvale,” took an interesting approach to story by presenting the shooting first — not revealing if Grant lives or dies — then delving into his life about 24 hours prior to the crime. This adds drama to every scene, not knowing if this time is the last he’ll hug his mother or joke around with his four-year-old daughter.
It works well for this stark story, as does the Friday-Night-Lights style production, one that relies on close-ups, quick camera movements, fast editing and lots of music to drum up emotion. Michael B. Jordan, known best for his work on Friday Night Lights, plays Oscar Grant.