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Fruitvale Station and Manipulation 
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Post Fruitvale Station and Manipulation
I know the forum already has a thread on Fruitvale Station, but after just getting out of a late night showing I wanted to possibly create some conversation pertaining to the film itself. So anyone who has seen the film please, please contribute. (SPOILERS AHEAD).

As I stated above, I just saw the film. With that said, my feelings are a bit scattered. First off, I must say that Michael B. Jordan, the film's lead, does quite a fantastic job portraying a troubled youth, while bringing in undeniably accurate qualities of humanity. Yet it seems that director Ryan Coogler has taken quite a few liberties with the source material. Now, I'm not a stickler when it comes to historical accuracy. However, If a biopic or historical drama is being made i think that it still has to be held to a certain standard. For example, if a filmmaker is making a biopic about Washington it should stick somewhat closely to the facts. Of course, we all know that directors are going to take liberties. But my question is how far is too far, and how much is too much?

After getting out of the film, I headed home and started reading up on the events that occurred and a few pieces about the film itself. Its after this light amount of research that I started to feel slightly manipulated by Coogler, and heres why. Coogler tries to balance Grant, as a character, but in doing so he creates proportion of myths to reveal the "good side" of the youth. We see Grant holding the corpse of a dogs body, yet this never happened. We see Grant throw away a large amount of weed to indicate that he is trying to turn around his life, yet it never happened. These two events, are quite substantial in the total make-up of Grant. It also roots quite a bit of emotion into the the story itself--a guy who would weep over the corpse of a dog, who is trying to turn over a new leaf. In many ways these scenes balance out the overall bad in Grant. We know he has been unfaithful to his girlfriend, we know he sells drugs for money, we see he has served a stint in prison, and we also see somewhat of a violent side of Grant a couple of occasions. Everyone has their flaws, but its pretty safe to say that Grant isn't the wayward youth that Coogler depicts him as on screen. This isn't to say that Grant wasn't a loving father, and it is no excuse for the event that occurred. The issue here is in the film itself, and how Coogler chooses to portray Grant in a sometimes sparkly light. I guess my questions to you guys is this: Why does Coogler choose to depict mythic events in Grants life in order to color him as a likable, emotional, etc individual? As viewers, cant we see that Grant loved his daughter, wasn't that enough? Or did Coogler really need to stir in unneeded sweetness for maximum effect?

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Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:32 am
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Post Re: Fruitvale Station and Manipulation
There is manipulation here. But to me, the strings aren't obvious.

Manipulation in a movie bothers me when it's so blatantly obvious. Here, to me anway, it was integrated well enough into the story that I didn't notice it that quickly. After doing some research I noted the parts that you pointed out. But to me, it didn't come off as that big an issue.

To me, he was trying to portray Grant as what he was: a himan being. Many people would have either made him a thug or a saint. I liked this approach a lot better.

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Sun Jul 28, 2013 11:16 am
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Post Re: Fruitvale Station and Manipulation
Without knowing anything about the real life Oscar Grant, I walked out of the theater with an uneasy feeling about the film and my wife had one too.

The filmmakers stack the deck too much. They want to make Grant a hero, but are hamstrung by the real life facts. So what details do they add on or imply?

-He's giving up drug dealing
-He's going to marry the woman he loves
-He's going to be a great father to his daughter
-He's even going to get a job from a rich white man whose wife he helped (very Horatio Alger) by the way

Why, everything's on the up and up for Mr. Grant! Sure would be a shame if someone shot him, eh?

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Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:20 am
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Post Re: Fruitvale Station and Manipulation
JamesKunz wrote:
Why, everything's on the up and up for Mr. Grant! Sure would be a shame if someone shot him, eh?


My feelings exactly.

Michael B. Jordan is great, no question, and Coogler has some skill. But the film is ultimately a little insulting to the audience, I think, with a few brush strokes too many that aren't accurate to real life.

A reasonable individual should be upset by what went down when he actually got shot, regardless of his history or how he spent his last day. A film like this isn't going to change anyone's mind about anything, and sadly, the manipulation will give fuel to those who dismissed the story originally. It's made with much greater skill, but it's a preach-to-the-choir film as much as Fireproof or Courageous is.


Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:30 am
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Post Re: Fruitvale Station and Manipulation
I loved this movie. It's my first four-star movie of the year (yes, I'd rank it higher than BEFORE MIDNIGHT) and I had no problem whatsoever with the manipulation and how the main character was presented. Take that scene in the grocery store, for example. At one moment, he's helping a young woman choose the best fish for a cookout. The next, he's confronting his boss over getting his job back, and doing a bad job of it, I might add. There are also times where his behavior is a bit thuggish. So yes, while Oscar is a victim and the film ultimately makes points about racial profiling, I didn't feel for one minute like this movie presented an "angelic victim," a mistake that some left-leaning pundits made with the Martin/Zimmerman story.

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Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:05 pm
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Post Re: Fruitvale Station and Manipulation
KWRoss wrote:
I loved this movie. It's my first four-star movie of the year (yes, I'd rank it higher than BEFORE MIDNIGHT) and I had no problem whatsoever with the manipulation and how the main character was presented. Take that scene in the grocery store, for example. At one moment, he's helping a young woman choose the best fish for a cookout. The next, he's confronting his boss over getting his job back, and doing a bad job of it, I might add. There are also times where his behavior is a bit thuggish. So yes, while Oscar is a victim and the film ultimately makes points about racial profiling, I didn't feel for one minute like this movie presented an "angelic victim," a mistake that some left-leaning pundits made with the Martin/Zimmerman story.


They did not present him as an angelic victim, I agree there. But as I/we said, they stack the deck too much. The killing of a young man as he lay in handcuffs is a tragedy. Explaining to us that he was going to give up drug-dealing and start working for some white guy's company IF ONLY HE DIDN'T GET SHOT is too much.

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Sun Aug 11, 2013 1:17 pm
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