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Movie poster for Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station and the intersections of life

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Fruitvale Station is not a movie you should just try to see. It’s not a movie that you should simply put on your radar. And don’t cast it into the category of – I’ll just wait to see it on Netflix.

It’s earned well-deserved accolades from the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The directorial debut of Ryan Coogler is nothing but smashing. For me, I primarily went to see lead actor, Michael P. Jordan. I became a huge fan after watching him in the super amazing, super awesome television series Friday Night Lights.

However, these kudos should not be the fuel for your Go impetus. Rather, it’s the opportunity to witness a man’s story that is both beautiful and tragic. Some of you may be familiar with this narrative and some of you may not.

It is there, in that intersection of the differences of our lives that should fuel your Go impetus.

I went to see the film two weeks ago with my fellow book club members. In the small, dark theatre that beautiful Thursday evening, there were only eleven of us total in the theater. When the movie ended and the credits rolled, all eleven of us remained in our seats. We processed; we continued sniffling. We lingered; we were unable to move. In that shared moment, we were a diverse group of viewers across gender, age and ethnicity. Yet regardless of our lived experiences, we sat steeped in a collective reflection of emotion and thought. This movie humanizes.

Fruitvale is based on a true story. It’s a 24-hour glimpse into the intersections of Oscar Grant’s life. We are exposed to his unbridaled passion and his fight to survive and provide. We see the intersections of his envisioned future and his present, both being shaped by his previously lived experiences.

We are not privy to what leads Oscar to his early choices. He is surrounded by a loving family and a fiercely committed and wise mother. As I watched the movie, I was keenly aware that Oscar did not instigate negative situations, yet they were present. His responses were girded in a strong sense of self, protection and survival.

If you find yourself familiar with this life narrative, Oscar’s choices and decisions make sense. If you are not familiar, they do not. I have spoken with friends with varying levels of familiarity. One seems to have more answers than questions; the other seems to have more questions than answers. Either way, there is no right or wrong.

What is present and right is the opportunity to dialogue, learn and gain insight when we meet at that intersection of lived experiences…as wildly different as they may be.

Movie poster for Fruitvale Station

Movie: Fruitvale Station

  

4 Comments

  1. Question Cooldeb – although this is a moving story put into a movie, do you believe these actions and portrayal of events and characters are over dramatized for the sake of making a movie or do you have a sense this movie is pretty accurate to actual events/people?

    • Slydawgg, excellent question and thanks for raising it! I do appreciate the opportunity to dialogue and share opinions. My take – no, I don’t think the movie “over-dramatized” for the sake of cinema. Here’s why:

      (1) It’s based on a true story and the movie opens with the actual footage. Obviously things escalated that evening and Oscar lost his life and for no reason beyond asking questions and “just trying to get home.” If anything was overly dramatic, it was the frenetic energy that was driving some of the the police that evening. The guy who actually started the problem carried on and away out of the station with no problem. The guy who tried to avoid it, then dissipate it, was killed. It is a sad day when you have to dissipate based on color.

      (2) The movie storytells, yes. In my view, it’s a narrative that needs to be heard about black men. A friend just shared a brilliant piece featured in Ebony magazine about the Trayvon Martin case. There is a great deal of dialogue that is needed to share a new perspective to enlighten, inform and educate our collective society about black men. We cannot stereotype (which ironically, we seem to be doing!) but the other side that constitutes the voice of lived reality is often not heard.

      That’s my thought. And so based on your question, does that mean you went to see it? What say you? I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

  2. I’m very interested in learning more and getting a chance to see this.

  3. Okay now I have to go see this movie! Looking forward to chatting with you after I see it.

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