2018 has two films set in Oakland: Sorry to Bother You and Blindspotting.
Of the two, Blindspotting is pure Oakland, pure there there. It drills down into the city’s essence and finds not just a physical place but the perfect metaphor for a divided and disenchanted America struggling and resisting change.
The gentrification of what use to be a tough, mostly minority neighborhood provides all the drama and plot.
Collin, a young black man (Daveed Diggs of Hamilton the musical fame) and a convict about three days away from ending his parole and his white best friend Miles (Rafael Casal, who co-wrote the screenplay with Daveed Diggs), a loose pistol who owns many, and totally enamored with the gangsta mystique, work for a moving company that mainly moves a white clientele into formerly black homes. Add a police shooting of an unarmed black man that Collin is the lone witness to and director Carlos Lopez Estrada has all the necessary dramatic and metaphoric material to make a great film with contemporary resonance.
The old Oakland resisting the gentrification of the new one is echoed in every scene, a classic example of great screenwriting 101. There are some on the nose moments but it is often a perfect match of theme, place and character. The only jarring note is Diggs need to remind folks that he is a Hamilton grad by rapping his dialogue, especially at the story’s climax.
Blindspotting reminds everyone that there is ironically a lot of there there to disprove the old Gertrude Stein quote about this city by the bay.
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