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'Divergent' actress Maggie Q on her favorite movies of 2013

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Her and The Act of Killing may have both been nominated for Academy Awards this year, but that isn’t enough for Divergent actress Maggie Q: She thinks they deserved even more acclaim. The Nikita star gave us her picks for favorite movies of 2013 she thinks should have been more popular:

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Road to Sundance: Stars are born in 'Fruitvale Station' -- VIDEO

Every Monday until the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, EW is celebrating a great success story from independent film’s most prestigious showcase. So far, we’ve revisited Lee Daniel’s Precious, Courtney Hunt’s Frozen River, Greg Mottola’s Adventureland, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon. Today, we look back at Fruitvale Station, the 2013 film from Ryan Coogler.

With the Sundance Film Festival just over a week away, a new crop of unknown filmmakers heads to Park City with dreams of standing ovations, distribution deals, and just enough recognition so that they get to make another movie. Last year, that one film that will forever be associated with Sundance 2013 was Fruitvale Station, the Oscar contender about the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, the real-life Bay Area man who was shot by transit police in 2009.

Director Ryan Coogler had been living in Oakland when Grant was shot, an altercation that was captured by onlookers’ cell phones and immediately posted online. Coogler was a promising student filmmaker who’d spent time at the Sundance Institute, and when he met with Forest Whitaker and members of the Oscar winner’s production company, he pitched Grant’s story. With Whitaker’s guidance — and the blessing of Grant’s family — Coogler pieced together Grant’s last 24 hours into a moving and complex drama starring Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer. The film won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, as well as the Audience Award, and it opened in theaters in July to rave reviews.

Click below to see Coogler and his cast at last year’s Sundance, just as the festival was realizing what Fruitvale was all about. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2013: Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler on filming the harrowing tragedy of 'Fruitvale Station'

Oscar Grant was only 22 years old when he died after being shot in the back by an Oakland transit policeman in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2009. The public outcry that followed was inflamed because the shooting was recorded by shocked BART-train passengers who captured it on their cellphones and immediately posted online. One of the young Bay Area residents who was outraged by what transpired on the video was an aspiring filmmaker named Ryan Coogler, also 22. In Southern California, 21-year-old actor Michael B. Jordan watched the grainy footage on Facebook and had a heavy heart. “Being somebody who was so close to my age, it was almost like a peer getting shot down,” he says. “It kind of really sat with me.”

Three years after Grant’s death, Coogler and Jordan set out to tell the story of Grant’s last 24 hours alive in Fruitvale Station. It’s not an angry film, nor does it lionize Grant and make him a saint. Grant had dealt drugs and served a prison sentence. But at the time of his death, he was trying to start over — according to those who knew him best — and become the son, boyfriend, and father that others needed him to be.

Coogler had earned the trust of Grant’s family, and interviewed everyone who crossed paths with Grant on Dec. 31, 2008. Combined with cellphone records and legal documents, he pieced together Grant’s movements and interactions to create an informed version of his final day alive. Such details were crucial — especially for Jordan, who Coogler recruited to star — because there was very little if any video of Grant himself. That is, except for the horrible video of his final moments.

Fruitvale Station premiered at last January’s Sundance Film Festival, where it won several top prizes, was quickly picked up by The Weinstein Company, and is currently a serious contender for several year-end awards. Sundance audiences were stunned into silence by the film, which opens with the actual amateur footage of Grant’s shooting at the Fruitvale BART station. It was a decision Coogler wrestled with. “That was something that I was initially very firmly against,” he said at Sundance. “I didn’t want any real footage in the film. But you sometimes have to take a step back. Being from the Bay Area, I knew that footage like the back of my hand, but more people from around the world had no idea about this story. It made sense for them to see that footage and see what happened to Oscar, and I think it was a responsibility that we had to put that out there. From now on, everyone who sits down and sees this film, they see the truth. There’s no CGI in that, in what they did to that young man. That’s the real deal.”
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AFI movies of the year: 'Her' and '12 Years a Slave' in; 'August: Osage County' out

The American Film Institute announced its 10 “most outstanding” movies of the year Monday, including Her, 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Gravity, and The Wolf of Wall Street.

AFI has a strong history of selecting films that end up competing for an Academy Award. Last year alone, all but Moonrise Kingdom and The Dark Knight Rises picked up Best Picture nominations. The only nominee AFI missed was Amour, and that’s just because AFI only selects from American films. Not too shabby.

The list is mostly consistent with the landscape of serious contenders that we’ve been anticipating. The recently announced critics awards largely skewed toward 12 Years a Slave, with a few nods for American Hustle, Gravity, and Her – all of which are represented on AFI’s list. Notably, Sundance winner Fruitvale Station (largely absent from critics lists) made the top 10, perhaps signifying that it’s not out of the race just yet. Missing from AFI’s list are a few notable Best Picture hopefuls including Philomena, August: Osage County, and Blue Jasmine.

Check out the full list below, including AFI’s television programs of the year.
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Box office report: 'The Wolverine' earns $55 million; Plus 'Despicable Me 2' crosses $300 million mark

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Sometimes even earning the No. 1 spot can be seen as a modest disappointment, or at least that’s what the new narrative around The Wolverine (CinemaScore: A-) would have you believe.

With no competition this weekend, The Wolverine pulled in about $55 million domestically in 3,924 locations — on target with studio estimates, but far below tracking projections, some of which went so far as to predict an $80 million weekend. With the majority of screens showing the Fox tentpole in 3-D, the movie averaged about $14,016 per screen on an estimated budget of $120 million, so this weekend’s performance is really nothing to scoff at. Interestingly, at $55 million, the film is right in line with 2011’s X-Men: First Class which made $55.1 million in its first three days at the box office in early June. But so far The Wolverine is holding steady as the second lowest opening of all of Fox’s six X-Men movies — that title goes to the first in the series which opened at $54.5 million. But X-Men was also released 13 years ago with no 3-D surcharges, so it’s not an entirely fair comparison.

The Wolverine opened internationally this weekend as well to grosses of $86.1 million, playing on 15,152 screens in 101 territories, bringing its worldwide total to about $141.1 million. Fox estimates that audiences were about 58 percet male, and 42 percent under the age of 25.
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Box office preview: Can 'The Wolverine' save the summer box office?

Wolverine is all by his lonesome, tortured, extremely ripped self this weekend at the box office, and big things are expected. As the single new nationwide release, all eyes will be on the Fox juggernaut to see if it might actually be the summer movie to break through the box office slump with a strong opening. It’s not a question of whether or not it will win the weekend, it’s a question of just how brutally it will crush the recent big budget disappointments like The Lone Ranger, R.I.P.D., Pacific Rim, and White House Down. If anyone can take the pressure, it’s probably the clawed mutant.

Here’s how things might play out:
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'Fruitvale Station' duo in talks to join Sylvester Stallone for Apollo Creed movie

Ryan Coogler, the promising young director of Fruitvale Station, is planning to re-team with his film’s leading man, Michael B. Jordan, for his next film. But it won’t be another harrowing social commentary about race in America that relies on the festival circuit for its buzz.

As Deadline initially reported, the duo are in talks to join Sylvester Stallone in a clever extension of the Rocky Balboa franchise for MGM. Titled Creed, the movie centers on the wealthy grandson of Apollo Creed, the heavyweight champion of the world who first battled Balboa, then became his trainer, and later was killed in the ring by Soviet boxing robot Ivan Drago. Jordan would play the late champ’s grandson, who, despite his privileged background, is lured into the fight game and turns to Balboa for guidance.

“It is incredible that Rocky’s journey had come to a fulfilling end,” said Stallone, in a statement. “What is even more incredible is that it is going to continue thanks to MGM and a brilliant vision from a talented new director.”

The last Rocky movie, 2006’s Rocky Balboa — the sixth in the series — earned more than $70 million at the box office.

From 'Fruitvale Station' to 'Before Midnight': Do independent films still work in the summer?

If you’re an adventurous moviegoer, then counterprogramming, as it’s known, is one of your best friends. It’s what allows you, right smack in the middle of the greasy-butter escape-tastic sequelitis summer season, to see movies like The Kids Are All Right or Beasts of the Southern Wild or Before Midnight or Midnight in Paris: movies for adults, movies that trade over-scaled fantasy for human-scale feeling, movies that get publicized as early awards players because they truly deserve to win awards. If that one screen at the way, way back of the megaplex wasn’t showing The Way, Way Back or Frances Ha, but instead was offering the sixth opportunity that afternoon to see Man of Steel, a lot of us who love movies would be the poorer for it. Counterprogramming offers more than just an offbeat “alternative.” It allows “small movies” (a term that drives me nuts, since some of the greatest movies ever made have been “small movies”) to saddle up right next to jumbo-size ones, to be experienced with the same Saturday-night big-screen excitement. READ FULL STORY

Octavia Spencer on 'Fruitvale Station': 'It's not a 'black' story, it's a human story'

When Oscar Grant was shot while coming home from New Year’s Eve celebrations on January 1, 2009 at a public transit stop in Oakland, Calif., it made headlines, not only in Northern California but across the country. The news of a young, unarmed African-American man shot by police — and the event captured on cell phone videos and social media — illustrated racial tensions and police brutality in Oakland and many other communities, but for Fruitvale Station‘s writer/director Ryan Coogler, the story didn’t end after it left the newspapers.

“I was angry, frustrated, scared, and more than anything filled with questions as to how this could happen….Fortunately enough I have filmmaking as an outlet, which I thought was something that was positive, something that I figured could maybe help in a preemptive way,” Coogler says of his film in the clip below.  Fruitvale Station chooses to focus most of its energy on the story of Grant’s life and his family, rather than the circumstances of his death. “Hopefully in the film people can see in Oscar’s personal relationships, see their own relationships… and how they view people that they normally would pass by or open up in the paper and not really care about,” Coogler says.

Michael B. Jordan, who plays Grant, echoes Coogler and notes that Oscar’s story signifies more than just the one incident. “Oscar Grant represents a lot of kids from the inner city who are trying to do the right thing.”

Oscar winner Octavia Spencer stars as Grant’s mother. “We all make mistakes, that doesn’t mean that every man shouldn’t get a second shot at redemption,” she says of the film. “The story itself isn’t a quote unquote ‘black’ story, it’s a human story and the message is very universal.” Spencer also notes that the film received a similar reception from audiences abroad at Cannes as it did at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic earlier this year. READ FULL STORY

Sundance winner 'Fruitvale Station' starring Michael B. Jordan debuts trailer -- VIDEO

The minds behind Fruitvale Station — winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival — are giving the public a sneak peek at the acclaimed film with the first trailer, released today. The film stars Friday Night Lights‘ Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old San Francisco Bay Area man whose 2009 shooting by Oakland BART police sparked outrage and protests in the city.

The Weinstein Co. bought Ryan Coogler’s directorial debut from the festival for $2 million. Fruitvale Station — a candidate to win big during the upcoming awards season — will be released July 26. Watch the trailer here:

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