Ryan Coogler (shown at left), is nowhere near as an accomplished piece of film-making as is 12 Years a Slave. Nor would most of us expect it to be, considering that it has been made by a young man just begin-ning his career, and trying, I would guess, not to fall into the easy traps that a subject like this one holds out. If you followed, as many of us did, this case of young Oscar Grant III, who was shot while unarmed and shackled, inside the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, California, by a police officer on New Year's Day early morning, 2009, you'll realize how true to what happened inside that station is the depiction shown by the film. (The event was captured on the cell phone cameras of many of the riders on that BART train in that early morning, and so record after record exists of what happened.)
Michael B. Jordan (above, from Friday Night Lights and The Wire) makes our boy a smart mover looking out for his best shot and something of a ladies man who's still trying to keep faithful to his wife (Melonie Diaz, shown in the penultimate photo), and responsible to and for his little daughter (Ariana Neal, shown in photo, bottom). Jordan does an excellent job of making Oscar real, alternately angry and intelligent, a little confused but basically on that difficult road to responsibility. It's a fine performance, and it is backed up by a number of other good ones from the remainder of the cast (the always exceptional Octavia Spencer, below, plays his mom).
The Weinstein Company, appears on DVD and Blu-ray via Anchor Bay Entertainment -- hits the street this Tuesday, January 14, for purchase or rental.