TCFF 2013: Day 3 – ‘Fruitvale Station,’ ‘Propaganda’ and ‘The East’

Fruitvale StationMy brain is like a big wet sponge absorbing all the amazing films I saw today. First up was “Fruitvale Station” at Milliken Auditorium.

Sometimes you know right away when a film will do well during awards season. Opening night’s “Blue Jasmine” is one of those films. So is “Fruitvale Station.”

‘Fruitvale’ isn’t even what you’d call an explosive film – at least, not until you get to the end. It’s a quiet, thoughtful film about people just living their lives, doing what people do – getting together for family gatherings, eating good food, praying together, struggling to keep the rent paid, trying to be better people. And yet somehow, all of that leads to tragedy in this particular case.

Fruitvale Station” is based on the real-life story of Oscar Grant (a terrific Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 determined to make a better life for himself and his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and 4-year-old daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal).

As the day progresses, we learn there’s more to Oscar than his recent prison stint and loss of his job at a grocery store. He’s kind to strangers and animals, makes a bold decision not to sell drugs (even though he needs the cash), and celebrates his mom’s (Octavia Spencer) birthday. But his final encounter of the day, with police officers at the Fruitvale BART station, shake the Bay Area – and the nation – to its core.

“Fruitvale Station” isn’t a movie that yells at you. It’s a movie that takes you on a pensive journey of one person who’s at the mercy of his past, the color of his skin, and the unfortunate circumstances of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s such a well made film and, again, I expect it to do well during the upcoming awards season. Read more