Tag Archives: Octavia Spencer

Fruitvale Station (2013)



Despite my best intentions, I’ve always treated black people differently than whites. I’ve never had a close black friend, and while my racism tends to reveal itself in an obnoxiously patronizing amiability opposed to a violent bigotry or snide superiority, my presence here isn’t bringing us any closer to a post-racial America. Maybe that makes me the perfect audience for Fruitvale Station, a film that endeavors only to tell the dreadfully true story of Oscar Grant in all its agonizing detail, and ends up carving a portrait of a man whose humanity is what makes his story so compellingly universal.

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The Help (2011)

There are very few people anymore who can claim authentic, first hand knowledge of the Civil Rights movement. In the same way that I wouldn’t pretend to possess any particular insight into the fall of the Berlin Wall, having been alive during the 60s doesn’t grant you special insight into the race struggle. The only people who can really say that they were a part of things weren’t just alive in the 60s, but were decision-making adults with the self-awareness to adopt a position on one side or the other, and their numbers are dwindling. Which must explain why The Help, a film that simplifies and exploits one of this country’s most strained periods, and does so with broad, stereotypical character types and exchanges, has been nominated for Best Picture. Or it could just be that Viola Davis can make anybody like anything.

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