Opening in theaters today, Fruitvale Station — starring Michael B. Jordan — is getting great reviews and a bit of Oscar buzz, and the subject matter is eerily timely.
We haven't seen it yet, but here are ten reasons we're thinking of buying tickets:
The film based on a true story about a 22-year-old African-American Oakland man named Oscar Grant III, who was shot in the back by a white Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer. According to Steven Zeitchik of the LA Times, there are similarities between the narrative and the shooting of Trayvon Martin. As Harvey Weinstein puts it: "This movie is so important. It’s about justice and injustice."
Most critics are giving it four out of four stars. Claudia Puig of USA Today calls it "riveting."
Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer costars in the film, and is a producer. She explains that they lost funding while the movie was in production and "I, being the shameful person that I am, now have a bunch of nouveau riche friends who could afford to donate some money. I shamelessly called them and asked them for it. Then I kicked in a little of my own money… I'm glad that I had the foresight to know that this was important."
The movie won both the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic and the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
The director, Ryan Coogler, is 27. This is his first film. He also works as a youth guidance counselor at a juvenile hall in San Francisco. As Buzzfeed reports:
These days, even though he hasn’t worked there in a while because he’s been promoting his movie, he says, “I can’t wait to try and get back.”
Three words: Michael B. Jordan. Jon Weisman at Variety writes that he is:
…More and more shaping up to be this generation’s Denzel Washington, and after making memorable appearances on such shows as “The Wire” and “Friday Night Lights,” this feels like his cinematic coming-out party.
Joe Neumaier at the New York Daily News gives the film four stars and writes that Jordan "never falters," adding:
There are split-second transitions as the charismatic, low-key Oscar has to square different sides of himself. It’s as if Jordan, sure to be an Academy Award Best Actor nominee, is negotiating minute by minute who Oscar is — and who he needs to be.
Mara Reinstein at Us Magazine says "it’s not too soon to trumpet Michael B. Jordan as a likely 2014 Best Actor Oscar nominee."
And Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal writes that Jordan gives a performance "that can break your heart or fill it with joy, sometimes simultaneously." He also adds:
At a time when the multiplexes are crowded with coarse comedy and inept spectacle, here's a homegrown movie that honors its subject and the medium.
Sometimes it's tough to get onboard with a film when you think you already know everything that happens, but these actors, this story and these reviews? Very convincing.