Sep 13, 2010


It's been high time that I've put thoughts of Fresh to rest being this was the film that first set my horizons to dabbling in constructing a solid base of opinions in written form, see also: review. Far from the decadent projects of faux paus hood dramas, Fresh presents the first of its kind that I've seen, an intellectual pass at exhibiting impoverished communities without making me want to fumigate the entirety of the seedy alleys littered with degenerates and addicts. Essentially a coming-of-age urban fable with a 12 year old drug runner, name of Fresh, the film decides to center itself a fancy twist when he begins to use the game of chess and his estranged father's tactics to get himself and his sister out of the "game" before it's too late. Setting up a chessboard in his room, Fresh manipulates each piece in a manner catering to his opponents needs. As whimsical father-figure Samuel L. Jackson puts it, "I play my opponent. If he likes to attack, I force him to defend himself. If he's a cautious man, I draw him into dangerous waters." These words from this golden deus ex machina provides us with an exhilarating set-up for what might be one of the greatest films ever told through a black child's eyes, with the exception of George Washington.

Establishing the pawns rather quickly and efficiently without wasting time from the fireworks, Fresh introduces us to the morning habits of a school boy drug pusher as he stiflingly tells this smacked Mexican Consuela that 20 means 20. After she bullshits her culture and daughter to the young black man in what might possibly be a scheme for more of the "product", Fresh leaves the apartment to deliver to local drug kingpin Esteban's cronies. The intensity of life is established very quickly in the projects as this kid Fresh could be any other kid growing up with such a poverty-stricken way of life. Scratch that, no kid from the projects could house such an intellectual fervor as effortlessly as Fresh. I think Mexican clown Chuckie would be a better comparison to the average low-income child, destined to die because of his arrogant, irritating, and perversely mongoloid nature. Because of the deteriorating element of his family, Fresh takes it upon himself to free himself from the slimy hands of Corky and Esteban in a concise yet superficial rigging of his creation. Using tactics employed in chess, Fresh ultimately boils down to a metaphorical game of chess using real pawns and sacrificing much to make ends meet.

Fresh proves to be one of the more tame films I set out to review. Not being much of quality, filming wise, Fresh doesn't really house any hidden aesthetics or inspired technique. It's simply a film that exists within the raw boundaries of the story it portrays so the quality is dismissible as the product is something I can revisit over and over again. Courting my predilection for spicy urban dramas, Fresh was developed for a specific audience in mind. I couldn't imagine current black youth watching this film without heckling poor Michael for participating in lame activities such as "chess" or "family." These concepts mean nothing to most of, if not all, of our streetwise rodents. Surrounded by such filth must be distracting on the developing adolescence of Fresh. From the lackadaisical temperament of his "nAuGhtIIe N' nAstY" sister converted whore to the greasy self-idolizing tentacles of Esteban, Fresh concerns himself with some putrid excess for sure.

As an added bonus, Samuel L. Jackson turns perhaps his best performance as his alcoholic speed-chess father whom Fresh can drop the moniker and manifest the semblance of a human being. Not just for whimsical anecdotes or father/son malleability, Fresh comes to this park to step his game up to better suit his needs. In what eventually begins to unravel, Fresh takes charge as a studious film featuring rather unsavory characters and takes the time to escape the bind of class-B "yungbloodz" and their banal disillusionment of cinema. Fresh isn't a perfect film but rather a perfect character. A child of rotting roots that I feel great sympathy for. You may be able to disregard the film but you most certainly cannot shun the character. As Michael sheds mortal coil by releasing Roscoe of his tainted innocence, Fresh becomes somewhat with purpose to better his life and stray back on course. To cap off a perfectly-competent debut picture from Boaz Yakin, Fresh ends on such a note of breakdown that it's near impossible for me to not get caught up in the flood of emotion emanating from Sean Nelson in his only credible role. This is the stuff that Urban films should be made of. There is no glorification of hood dreams to be found in Fresh, only a wake up call to black youth stating that it's time to grow up.


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