Essential Pittsburgh
4:51 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Fruitvale Station and Typical Conjurings

Bringing the good and the bad news from the film reel, City Paper Film Critic Al Hoff presents her opinions on several upcoming movies and documentaries coming to a theater near you.

With a release date that could not be more timely, Fruitvale Station documents the final days of Oscar Grant, an African American man from San Francisco who was shot and killed by police while unarmed at a subway station. The film comes after the controversial George Zimmerman verdict  in which many believe race played a crucial role.

Hoff insists that the film is presented without bias.

“It’s not really taking a side,” she explains, “it’s just asking you to consider this young man’s life.”

The film is a dramatized re-creation of the events as they unfolded on New Year’s of 2009 and includes actual cell phone footage.  Michael B. Jordan plays the lead and Hoff praises his complex presentation of Oscar Grant.

The Conjuring

Although box offices indicate otherwise, Hoff says that this horror film does not offer anything new or unique in the way of scary movies.

“All these ghosts in the movie do the same thing: they creak doorways, they appear in mirrors, they whisper things to children…” She adds, however, that often the familiarity of horror movie characters doing familiar horror movie things is comforting for viewers.

Rock Band Documentaries

Switching up from narrative films, Hoff recommends two documentaries: “A Band Called Death” and “Big Star.” Both tell the story of not-so-well-known groups from a distinctive perspective, exposing the intricate stories of two rock bands.