The Writers Voice
Review of the movie "Fresh"
Brent A Fuller
"Fresh"; one of the greatest movies of the last decade.
I didn't expect to like this movie. I've seen "Clockers" and "Boyz In the Hood" etc... I've seen a lot of the Spike Lee "joints". Now I've seen "Fresh". I will inevitably rave over it, but the point is that the movie is a true rarity. The directing and scene editing were seamless. The coverage of the culture was deep, thorough and accurate. The plot... the plot depicts a twelve-ish chess player who has often been told of his greatest negative influence. From the neighbors to the courts; his father has been deemed unfit. Contributing not to society, the man's greatest endeavor is hustling dollars playing chess and sometimes, when he sees his son, instructing him in the game.
The skills of the chess teacher though don't include patience. He is harsh and rides his son on those forbidden afternoons in the park. While he distills ever better stategy in his son's game, the boy is thinking of chess in terms of its implications to reality and designs a chess-like strategy in his ghetto life that is finely honed and intent. A great artist wrote this film. A great director executed a fine screenplay. There is nothing extraneous about this film. Every scene is essential and delivered purely. There is no jive, editorializing, propagandanizing theme behind it.
It is simply the real deal about a brilliant young mind surviving in his tough life by using every single one of the tools in his reach. Like his teacher/father taught him about chess, he wastes not a single move in his life of depraved circumstances involving treachery, illicit conduct and violence. In the end, it dawned on me that the role the father was allowed to play in the boy's life vs. the fact that he was the only asset the boy had ever had access to was a paradigm shift. It was a true tragedy that happens in the lives of people every day.
As the movie closes you see the boy's first tears and they're due to the pervasive lie and fraud that has been perpetrated on he and his world. But the tears are an involuntary response to his father's character. Even in a moment of more of the same callous criticism from him he sees his father's constancy that has always been lacking everywhere else. There is the shift.
The tragedy is that it is far too late. The world has indelibly encroached
itself, his father is an opponent and the boy will wear his cold, manly armor
His youthfulness amidst his father's constant criticism must have seemed as
harsh as the rest of the world had always been. As though to contradict
society's judgment toward his father from earliest memory, the man becomes a
sort of twisted dim beacon of decency despite the brown paper bag in his hand in
the park where the chess players go.
But I just watched this movie at 3am last night by accident. I was just checking the weather before falling into bed. But at noon with my wife today I was moved again and we watched in sympathy, anger and another emotion; I understood for the first time. My praise to the director, Boaz Yakim.
As soon as I'm done writing this, I intend to find other films he's done and order them. Other movies I like are "JFK", "What's Eating Gilbert Grape", "The Barfly", "Good Will Hunting", "Hoffa", "The Recruit", "The Rounders", "Four Rooms", "Apocalypse Now" and "Basquiat". I hope these comments encourage someone to see the movie and that you enjoy it as much as I did. Oh... the acting is of true quality.
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