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Archive for February, 2014

“Fruitvale Station”, A Film Review by Phil Cheney

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

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Fruitvale Station DVD 9902

 

Fruitvale Station is the true day-in-the-life story of Oscar Grant, a young struggling father who was shot to death by a police officer in Oakland, California on New Year’s Day of 2009. Most film review writers would find a witty sentence to convey how moving the film is, I will state most simply that it is nothing short of heartbreaking. The whole film builds to create a character that is kind, compassionate, and under a lot of stress from responsibility. While the character wins the audience over with charm, there is a building anticipation of dread and doom leading up to a devastating finale of loss and regret. All of which is beautifully shot with mostly natural lighting and very simple yet intricate compositions.

Besides being the emotionally driven and politically oriented film it is; Fruitvale Station is also one of the best film debuts from a writer/director that I have ever seen. The talented individual who brought this film to life is 27 year old Ryan Coogler, a graduate student from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. Growing up in the East Bay area north of Oakland, CA, Coogler was part of the community that was emotionally shocked by the murder of Oscar Grant by a police officer, which inspired him to write this screenplay about injustice and prejudice. Despite all of the sadness and melancholy of the film there is just as much love, tenderness and sense of community which is what makes the well-structured script so impactful. In an interview on the film Coogler stated that the scene where Oscar Grant is shot was filmed on location at the real station and the crew noticed that the bullet hole from the actual murder was still in the ground.

Aside from the fantastic direction and writing, the performances are also superb. Rising star Michael B. Jordan carries out the martyr-like role with sensitivity, compassion and anger. Oscar winner Octavia Spencer carries out her heart-wrenching role of Oscar’s mother with a competence equal to her award winning status; besides playing this key role she was also a major supporter in producing the film.

In our current period of cinema, where bland superhero movies or romantic comedies seem to be pumped out like a mindless conveyer belt; it is refreshing to see a beautiful film whose content is directed towards extreme social importance and humanist emphasis.

Persistent Link

Seeking Will Thomas’s The Seeking

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

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March 13, 5:30 pm, Special Collections Reading Room, Bailey/Howe Library

Mark Madigan of Nazareth College will talk about his research on writer Will Thomas for a new edition of Thomas’s book The Seeking, published by Northeastern University Press in 2013 as part of the Northeastern Library of Black Literature.

After  Will Thomas abandoned a plan to move to Haiti to escape racial prejudice in the United States, he made the improbable decision to relocate his family to Westford, Vermont in 1946. The Seeking offers not only a remarkable account of the Thomases’ experience as the only non-white members of their rural community, but also gives insight into race relations in New England in the first half of the twentieth century. Well-received upon publication in 1953, the book soon faded into obscurity, as did its writer, whose other work includes a novel and a substantial body of journalism for African-American newspapers and pulp magazines.

To write his introduction to the new edition, Madigan consulted letters in the papers of Irene Allen, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, and Bradford Smith in Special Collections. Dan Gediman, the executive director of This I Believe, Inc. contributed the afterword. His interest in Thomas was prompted by an essay that Thomas read on Edward R. Murrow’s radio show, This I Believe, in 1953.

Madigan received his B.A. from St. Michael’s College, an M.A. from the University of Vermont and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts. He is the editor of Youth and the Bright Medusa in the Willa Cather Scholarly Edition, Seasoned Timber by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (UP New England, 1996), The Bedquilt and Other Stories by Fisher, and Keeping Fires Night and Day: Selected Letters of Dorothy Canfield Fisher. He is currently  writing an essay on Charles Chesnutt’s short story “The Passing of Grandison” and co-directing “Cather and Europe/Europe and Cather”, a symposium being held in Rome in June 2014.

The presentation is free and open to the public. For more information, email uvmsc@uvm.edu or call 656-2138.

Free Film screening event! A DEMON IN MY VIEW

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

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A Demon In My View

UVM Media Resources student assistant and Junior Environmental Science student Matt Lipke is premiering his horror/thriller feature-length film here at UVM this Friday, February 7th at Billings Ira Allen Lecture Hall. The doors open at 6:45pm and the film will begin at 7:00pm. The event is FREE!!

Inspired by the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe, A DEMON IN MY VIEW is a horror/thriller film about a young college student struggling with her tragic past.

Produced and filmed in Syracuse, New York, the film took 21 months to produce and had a budget of about $6,000.

A DEMON IN MY VIEW has just been picked up by Tugg, a theatrical and non-theatrical distribution partner!

Join us to see a student’s work on the big screen!

Refreshments will be provided by the UVM Film Club!