In the early hours of New Year's Day, 2009, Oscar Grant was shot in the back on the
Fruitvale Station platform by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer in Oakland, California. He was unarmed and just 22 years old. Director Ryan Coogler's film, Fruitvale Station is not a documentary, but a fact-based re-creation of Oscar's last day.
Comparisons will be made with the Trayvon Martin case currently in the news, but that would be a disservice to the spirited telling of Oscar Grant's story. Yes, he was young and black and shot by a white officer, but more importantly, he was connected to his friends, loved by his family and struggling to find his way in life, like so many people.
In the aftermath of 9/11, perhaps the most compelling account of its impact and sheer scope of its enormity was delivered in the short profiles a handful of TheNew York Times writers created for each of the lives lost that day. In a few sentences, rich with personal details, the portraits offered a glimpse of a life tragically cut short. Concise and potent, nearly every portrait will move a reader to tears, but in a manner that transcends race, class, age or gender. The collection was released as a book, Portraits of Grief, and continues to be a testament to the power of love and connection in the face of loss.
In the span of 84 minutes, Fruitvale Station's portrait of Oscar is complete. The mundanity of phone calls and sending texts and pumping gas and shopping for groceries is consistent with the pattern of anyone without a suspicion that this day may be their last. Michael B. Jordan portrays Oscar Grant. His commanding presence seen previously on The Wire and Friday Night Lights, quietly fills even the wordless moments of the film with the visible energy and angst of a young person just starting out.
Fruitvale Station may effectively memorialize a life ended too soon, but more broadly ruminates how any of us will be remembered.
Both Adventureland (2009) and The Way Way Back (2013) can be synopsized as: A sweet coming-of-age story about a young man who makes new friends and surprising epiphanies
while working at a schlocky amusement park.
Both films feature familiar comedians, pretty love-interests and dependable character actors.
Most viewers will identify with the nerdy lead: hasn't everyone felt misunderstood, invisible and angry at their parents for ruining their lives?
With so much that's similar, the difference between the two films can be found in the writing. Adventureland feels more polished, with a believable backstory for each of its central characters.
The Way Way Back filters its emotion through its main character, while the supporting cast remains
largely mysterious and backstory-less.
Both films play on nostalgia and muse what it's like to be on the cusp of maturity. Adventureland uses a confident adult point of view and identifies with each player in its little world, while The Way Way Back takes an innocent look at one summer, recognizing its importance but not its depth.
PS The amusement parks Adventureland and Water Wizz really do exist!
Even if the name 'Bond' wasn't there, the brunette with the open wetsuit epitomizes the 007 'type':
beautiful, brazen and more than just a little bad. This vintage poster (1965) promotes Sheldon Lane's book, For Bond Lovers Only, a collection of James Bond trivia released at the height of Sean Connery's reign as the ultimate spy.
In 1932, Bob Hoffman launched Strength and Health Magazine. An advocate of
weight training, and a devotee of exercise and nutrition, he organized fellow weightlifters and bodybuilders in meets and competitions.
In 1935, he purchased the Milo Barbell Company and founded York Barbell (in York, Pennsylvania).
The York Barbell became the industry standard, while the company sponsored numerous championships and Olympic athletes.
I own a still life painting of an ink bottle that is wonky in a way I adore. Painted in 1950 by the wife of a revered designer, I imagine that she carved a space for herself and her creativity, despite the shadow of her husband's fame and talent. The painting is imperfect, the drawing is clumsy with shadows so rigid they could have been stenciled. B. said that it was so 'off', surely I must be in love with the 'idea' of it, the 'imagined story' and not the actual art. Maybe so.
This Japanese mail bag has graphic appeal, no doubt. That it was used for mail in and out of the Japanese internment camps adds somber historical impact. So much so that it becomes bigger and more memorable than just a graphic wall piece.