With the latest senseless police shooting, I can’t help but to think of the film Fruitvale Station. This is my favorite film from 2013 (along with Her) and I’ve been meaning to write about it for months.
Fruitvale Station is a beautiful and truthful film about the last day in the life of Oscar Grant – a not so perfect guy, trying to be better – who was wrongfully shot and killed by a police officer at the Fruitvale Bart Station in Oakland, CA in front of a car-full of witnesses. Michael B. Jordan (Vince from Friday Night Lights and the kid on The Wire) is unforgettable as Oscar, wow. So is Octavia Spenser who plays Oscar’s mother and Melonie Diaz who plays Oscar’s girlfriend.
This is a film that brings awareness to the injustice of the police shooting of Oscar Grant, but it does so not by dividing good guys and bad guys. It bypasses statistics, politics and this country’s history of racism and shows us what is at stake in closeup: a young mother and a young daughter and the young father who is trying to be the man his family needs him to be. And the film, despite the horrible inevitable outcome of its main character, is delightful, funny and entertaining … after all, he has no reason to think he is going to die that day.
Fruitvale Station released last year when Trayvon Martin was in the news and theaters were reported to be filled with sobs when the lights turned on at the end of the film. I’ll spare you from telling you how much I cried, other than to say that when we hear these stories in the news we get angry and frustrated and are in Phase I of our sadness. Fruitvale Station begins the very deep mourning process which there is never time for because there is always another news story. This is a humble and powerful film. It should be mandatory viewing in schools, police academies and the homes of all humans.
One of the most striking images from Fruitvale Station is this image of Oscar aiming his cell phone camera at the police officer, knowing it is his only weapon. One of the images of our time. Still, it wasn’t enough to save his life.
Also, this Michael Che piece on the Daily Show re: the shooting of Michael Brown made me laugh and cry in the same breath. It’s devastatingly sad and funny and sad. Awfully sad.