Fruitvale Station (2013)

Genre: Biography, Drama

Director: Ryan Coogler

Writer: Ryan Coogler

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer

Rating: ★★★★

Fruitvale Station made a lot of noise when it came out around summer time last year and is now set for a release in the UK, for some reason I never really looked out for it or into it, until now, and I can now say the praise this film got, and the noise that was made is totally justifiable. It is moving, and horrific in the sense that this is a true story and the events which occurred happened, and that they do happen in an every day manner.

‘Fruitvale Station is the true story of Oscar Grant, 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, whose birthday falls on New Year’s Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend, who he hasn’t been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to T, their beautiful 4 year old daughter. He starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realises that change is not going to come easy. He crosses paths with friends, family, and strangers, each exchange showing us that there is much more to Oscar than meets the eye. But it would be his final encounter of the day, with police officers at the Fruitvale BART station that would shake the Bay Area to its very core, and cause the entire nation to be witnesses to the story of Oscar Grant’

The ending to the story is irrelevant in some respect; many before watching would be familiar of such events and the name Oscar Grant, what is relevant is the manner in which this story has been told. It follows Oscar throughout his day, his last day, it allows us to know Oscar, connect and engage. He isn’t as first seen the stereotypical man from a rough part of town, he is caring, he tries. We see his interaction with his mother, something truly heart-warming; we see his interaction with his daughter, something equally as touching. Oscar is trying to turn his life around and make something for himself and everyone that he cares for. As the New Year slowly approaches we have seen the true Oscar, kind and loving, but as he gets the train back home with his girlfriend and a group of friends his past seems to hold him back. A group of police officers, racist and vile, unfairly treat and arrest Oscar and his friends, eventually leading to the unnecessary shooting and the unforgettable murder which was seen from all train members.

The moment is shocking and sad, something very moving and somewhat unexplainable. When watching you feel so much anger, and sorrow, for the whole film we have connected with Oscar and we know what he has to come back to, and look forward to, but in that one moment it is all gone. The writer Ryan Coogler has done amazingly to achieve such emotion, and so have the actors. Michael B. Jordan portrayal of Oscar is brilliant, he was realistic but at the same time moving as we saw his interaction with people throughout the day. The idea that these actors aren’t well-known adds to the realism of this story, or keeps the realism within the true story, and again this creates even more emotion. I usually find portrayals of true events hard to watch as I still believe that it never happened, but this is the complete opposite, and really deserves praise.

Fruitvale Station is an example of a film which thrives of its story, and that is so good because of it. There were flaws, the dialogue at times was hard to handle, and some scenes seemed too on the nose and Hollywood for the true story, whilst nothing equally jumped out as an amazing aspect of craft, but it is hard not to be touched by this film and Oscar’s story. This is a film I am glad I watched, it is excellently portrayed and handled, whilst the rawness adds to keep realism and creates so much emotion. Fruitvale Station is a film with so much emotion. It is not the easiest to watch, but it is powerful and really worthwhile. I strongly believe this film was majorly overlooked and forgotten from last year.

 

 

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Fight Club (1999)

Genre: Drama

Director: David Fincher

Writers: Chuck Palahniuk, Jim Uhls

Starring: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter

Rating: ★★★★★

Fight Club is something special, a film which is like no others in terms of story, action, characters and the ridiculous detail that has been sweated over to make everything just that extra bit phenomenal. It is a film which amazes you the first time you watch it, and then the second, third, fourth all have the same effect as you start to notice little in-jokes and hidden elements. The writing is great, dialogue beyond great, with the acting, directing and look being completely lovable and “sexy”. Fight Club is definitely a favourite, definitely a classic and definitely a film which deserves every single bit of praise it gets.

Our main focus is Jack (Edward Norton), Jack isn’t his real name, we don’t find out his real name, but will we call him Jack, for Jack sounds better than simply “the narrator”. He is the narrator however, and he tells his story looking back on how he has ended up spitting vowels onto a dirty gun that’s been shoved down his throat. He’s a slave to Ikea, his job and his insomniac mind which will not let him sleep, on the way back from work he arrives to find his condo blazing and his much loved furniture nothing but burnt fragments lying on the floor. He has nothing, everything that he is was in that apartment, and so he rings Tyler (Brad Pitt). Tyler is the most interesting single serving friend Jack has ever met; Tyler sells soap and briefly shared his plane journey with Jack earlier that day and the two meet and Jack stays at Tyler’s house. The lifestyle is different, there is no nice furniture, TV, hot water, yet Jack is happy, he is free. Tyler and Jack create Fight Club, a place where men can be free, where pain is a replacement for fear and violence is a replacement for crying, there is no therapy just fighting. However Fight Club catches on, gets out of control, and soon spirals into Project Mayhem which could spell oblivion, but what it means for Jack is much much more.

Fight Club is mind-blowing in every sense of the word, to tell more of the story is a crime but it withholds one of the greatest plot twists and endings to a film. Jack is a modern-day man; he represents most men, a generation of men which have been raised in a feminist society, but is that right? The film speaks so much, Tyler speaks so much, and when analysed you can see so many ideas and the brilliance behind the concept. The concept of this story is great, two men, Tyler and Jack creating something so simple yet so dangerous and something that is apparently somewhat nature for men. It is much more though than the fighting, Jack and Tyler have a relationship with Marla (Helena Bonham Carter) a lost soul, yet it brings so much excitement and thrill. The story involves humour, everything from the character of ‘Bob’ to fight club homework assignments, then the action with explosions and soap, and finally the mystery, the absolute awe of what has been created and witnessed.

However one of the most likeable aspects of Fight Club is our characters, Jack for starters is just a slave to the world, but what he turns into is very different, rebellious and free we like him and admire him. Tyler is the definition of fun; no-one who sells soap and wears flower suits can be as cool as Tyler. Then Marla, it all starts with Marla, she is witty, and despite neglected she is so important. Brad Pitt is brilliant and so is Edward Norton, they portray their characters flawlessly, Pitt is fun just like Tyler, whilst Norton although more serious is likable and sympathetic just like Jack.

Fight Club is in my opinion the best film Fincher has ever directed and he certainly is remembered for it. The directing is new, and clever, the explosion scene in the condo is a single moment which highlights this alongside the opening title sequence. Fincher creates a dark gloomy look but it complements the exciting characters and story in a strange way. The effects are great, the fighting looks real, the blood looks even more real and the aftermath of “Blondie’s” fight looks brilliant. Everything within Fight Club seems faultless. The score should also be mentioned, its electric feel is needed whilst the end song is somewhat nostalgic to hear, let alone completely complimentary.

Fight Club is unexplainable, once watched more than once your admiration increases. The writing is one of my favourites, from dialogue to the wrapping up of each storyline and plot. The overall product is flawless and there’s no wonder why it is regarded so highly.  It is my favourite performances from both lead actors whilst they are also both of my favourite characters. Fight Club is a classic, and there’s no debating about that.