Astrology: Film: ‘Fruitvale Station’ (2013)

The Weinstein Company

Guns, violence, sex and anger are the domain of Mars and Aries, whose energies dominate Fruitvale Station, the Sundance award-winning film written and directed by Ryan Coogler.

The movie’s Martial beginning is also its end point. In the very early hours of New Year’s Day, in 2009, at BART’s Fruitvale Station, in Oakland, California, a 22-year-old African American man, Oscar Grant, was killed while handcuffed and on the ground – shot in the back – by a white policeman.

Oscar (Michael B. Jordan) his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), and a group of friends were on the BART, returning from celebratory fireworks-watching in San Francisco. A violent incident (Mars) occurs on the train, law enforcement (Mars) is called in, and, in a clear case of police profiling, Oscar and some of his friends are rounded up and aggressively (Mars) held captive on the concrete.

After the movie signals the off-screen gunshot (Mars) tied to this grim event, Coogler goes back 24 hours to paint a portrait of the victim on what would become the last day of his life.

Paralleling the violence done to him, at the end, Oscar himself had a fierce temper (Mars). In a flashback, we see him at San Quentin prison, two years earlier, serving time. During a visit with his no-nonsense mother Wanda (Octavia Spencer), she reminds him of his obligations to Sophina and Tatiana (Ariana Neal ) their young daughter. After she leaves, stating she won’t be visiting again, Oscar erupts in anger, fights off the guards and needs to be subdued –all Mars-like behavior.

Oscar has also used his sexuality (Mars) out of turn, and Sophina doesn’t take his infidelity lightly. He deals drugs, a potentially violent business. And when he tries to get his old job back at local supermarket – he had been fired for chronic lateness – Oscar uses threatening words and moves against his former manager.

Fruitvale Station balances Oscar’s Martial aggression by showing his tenderness to his family – Wanda’s birthday is on New Year’s Eve and he spends the day preparing for the event. In a tragic twist, she strongly advises the couple to take the BART to and from San Francisco, to ensure their safety from the locale’s endemic violence. Even Tatiana is afraid for him – she  can’t distinguish fireworks from gunshots.

Yet, even in the big city, Oscar steps up to the plate in a chivalrous manner (Mars), asking a shopkeeper who’s about to close to allow two women to use the rest room (to be fair, even his polite request has consequences, should the retailer say no).

In the last stretch, the movie underscores Oscar’s desire to make a fresh start – to do “something legal,” a goal that would put him out of Mars’s crosshairs. But that goal didn’t help him at Fruitvale.

Coogler is slyly optimistic about what things could be. The BART crowd on its way to San Francisco does a traditional New Year’s countdown, in solidarity, on the train, and the group is a mix of all socio-economic classes, wardrobe attires, and sexual proclivities. On the return trip, after the violence ensues – and it’s clearly started by a hot-head known to Oscar – the contingent on the train use their individual cell phones to document the events.

In a world where cops who kill (Mars) can, in their defense, say they mistook their gun (Mars) for a taser (Mars) – which was, in fact, the defense used in Oscar’s murder – instant video-capture can also, on occasion, become a weapon (Mars).

Astrology Film Rating: ♂ (Mars)

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