The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 12, 1994 - 9
*'Fresh' and frighteningly realistic
By SARAH STEWART
Thepreview for "Fresh" had "Boyz
'N the Hood" meets "Searching for
Bobby Fischer" written all over it.
While this description also fits the film,
Directed by Boaz Yakin;
Awith Sean Nelson
and Samuel L.
*it is much too simplistic to do it justice.
Never babying the audience,
"Fresh" takes on the complex topic of
growing up in the heart of the inner-
city drug scene and presents it in a
frighteningly realistic manner.
Fresh (Sean Nelson) is only 12 years
old, give or take a year, but he's the
"stand up little G" for two of the
neighborhood's most prosperous deal-
ers. In other words, he's deep into
dealing at an age when some suburban-
ites arejust learning how to say the "F"
But as we quickly learn, little Fresh
is one of the smartest men on the street.
He ultimately devises a plan that has
his two drug dealing bosses at each
other's throats, literally, and the audi-
ence marveling at the believability of
his quick thinking.
Some of the film's high quality is
due to the superb directing of first time
writer-director, Boaz Yakin- several
scene transitions are breathtaking, and
it's always surprising that the camera
captures beauty in what's only a city
playground or the side of the train
tracks- but most of it comes from
Nelson's superb performance.
His character is the focus of the
film, and Nelson never seems to forget
it. Fresh's hardened facial expression
and cool composure rarely falter, even
after two of his best friends are mur-
dered; Nelson succeeds in creating an
almost robotic, yet sympathetic char-
Aside from watching what Fresh
does, Yakin forces us to see what Fresh
sees and the perspective from which he
In one of the film's concluding
scenes, Fresh sits on the car of cocaine
dealer, Esteban (Giancarlo Esposito),
apparently paying more attention to his
candy bar than the multiple murders
being committed only 30 feet from
him. It's a gruesome display, but it
becomes clear that Fresh has the ability
to endure real violence as if he were
watching it on a movie screen.
The "Searching for Bobby Fischer"
aspect of the film is derived from sev-
eral scenes revolving around chess in
the park with the father (Samuel L.
Jackson) Fresh is technically forbid-
den to see.
Although it's obvious that his
father's chess lessons are metaphors
for lessons learned on the street, they
neverseem melodramatic; instead, they
serve as a deserved break from the
danger of the street for both Fresh and
the audience watching him.
Any faults found in "Fresh" are due
to its abundance of characters and con-
sequently, its rather elaborate plot. The
drug dealers' right-hand men are hard
to keep track of and so is the status of
more secondary characters, such as
Fresh'sjunkie sister(N'Bushe Wright).
Although the subplot involving his
sister serves to showcase the ever-
present but rarely visible humanistic
side of Fresh, it is overshadowed by the
complex main plot and almost seems
Some viewers will have no prob-
lem following the aforementioned plan
that ultimately allows Fresh to play his
bosses at the same game that has stolen
his childhood, but others might find it
overwhelming and thus drawn out. If
so, be patient and wait for the ending;
it's a zinger.
FRESH is playing at State and
These two guys try to prove to their Spanish companions that Americans aren't so bad in "Barcelona."
'r os b
1arCel0n1R Cr oSaaceS DordelsS
By CAMILO FONTECILLA
In his newest film, "Barcelona,"
writer-director Whit Stillman expands
across International boundaries to
more sanitized Ted involve themselves
with Spanish women. Their immersion
into the young, politicized social circles
of the area serves to trigger a cross-
cultural, conflictive dialectic that gives
the film its focus.
Whitman's gift is the ability to trans-
form such a dry-sounding, purely ideo-
such a powerful hold over the rest of
the world, there is also a strong attrac-
tion to America as the home of modern
Taylor Nichols plays a stoic Ted,
ruffled only by his cousin's eccentrici-
ties. Chris Eigeman is much more dy-
namic as cousin Fred, an intriguing
Directed by Whit
- Taylor Nichols and
boldly examine what is perhaps a taboo
conversation item in America's house-
holds: what does the rest of the world
think of Us? The city of Barcelona,
under constant threat of victimization
by local terrorist groups, serves as a
beautiful and charged backdrop for this
unlikely tale of romance and politics
between the ones over There and the
ones over Here.
Ted (TaylorNichols) is aU.S. busi-
nessman working in the city of
Barcelona. His comfortable, middle
class sobriety is upset by the arrival of
his cousin Fred (Chris Eigeman), a
U.S. ROTC of patriotic bent with a
perpetually empty wallet. Despite be-
ing shocked by the all too visible anti-
American sentiment, both Fred and the
into a lively and
quite funny story
that never ceases
to be inviting. He
relies on the in-
nate humor of
centrism: Fred is
ing to uphold his
What is most
interesting about the
film is the relationship
between the Americans
and their Spanish,
sions and self-
sense. Not least,
and Mira Sorvino
as the men's
image as part of a nation that saved the
rest of Europe, but his basic moronic
character makes all his attempts at self-
justification fail. Ted is in a constant
processofself-evaluation, always won-
dering if it is at all possible to develop
a meaningful relationship with a woman
from a different country.
What is most interesting about the
film is the relationship between the
Americans and their Spanish lovers. In
developing this, Whitman toys with
the morbid fascination that many Eu-
ropeans feel for Americans. While there
is a hatred for a nation that exercises
Montserrat and Marta.
Ultimately, Whitman is trying to
discover what it means to be an Ameri-
can in a world where one's identity is
paired with a history thousands of years
Yet, "Barcelona" is a comedy and
Ted and Fred always manage to stay
afloat. The final victory? The closing
scene, when the men manage to im-
press their foreign girlfriends with their
distinctly American cooking skills, ala
the outdoor barbecue.
BARCELONA is playing at the Ann
Arbor 1 & 2
Giancarlo Esposito co-stars in "Fresh," a story of life in the inner-city.
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