Random Movie Monday Review: ‘Fresh’ Is Too Fresh
Quick Explanation of Random Movie Mondays
I came up with this idea while laying in bed and wondering what to do with my life. This thought process/topic happens all too often now, but that’s a good thing since it allows my creative juices to get going in the morning and allows me to come up with ideas like this.
So, I was thinking about how much content there is to view nowadays. We have cable, premium cable, streaming services, movie theaters and redboxes/rental services. Each of these has a plethora of content that would take 1000 years to view it all. Therefore, I decided to come up with a process to review a movie once or twice a month. This does not mean I’m not doing Throwback Thursdays or regular movie reviews anymore. No, this is just another fun little way to review a movie.
My process for this starts with picking how I’m going to watch the movie, meaning which service I’m going to use. Netflix, Redbox, HBO Go, Hulu, etc. are all viable options for Random Movie Mondays. Let’s say I choose Netflix (like I did for today’s review), then I’ll go ahead and choose a genre at random by closing my eyes and letting my Playstation 4 controller stroll through the options. After that, I do the same thing only now I’m strolling through the titles, with my eyes closed, and releasing my thumb off the D-pad when it seems right. Whatever it lands on is the movie I’ll be watching/reviewing. The only rules I have for this are that it has to be a movie I’ve never seen before and I cannot read the movie’s synopsis. If a previously viewed title happens to be selected, then I start the entire process over again, trying to pick a title out of complete randomness.
That’s just a quick explanation for you. Let’s get into the actual review. I do hope you enjoy!
Random Movie Mondays Presents: Fresh
Netflix Community Star Rating
My Netflix Rating
Cinematics – 4.5
The greatest aspect about this experience is the script. It’s perfectly crafted, complete with exceptional dialogue that is a joy to listen to. Within the first 15 minutes, I knew this movie was going to be something special. Sure, the acting by some of the kids might be a little too hard to bare at times, but with how fluid the script and the characters molded into an organic universe only tickled my excitement bone more and more as the movie progressed. The best way to demonstrate how good this script and the subtext truly are, then we need to shift to the chess scenes between Fresh (Sean Nelson) and his father, Sam (Samuel L. Jackson.)
Just like how a father is meant to teach their children how to survive in the world, that’s exactly what Sam does with Fresh, except he does so by playing games of chess while their family is estrange and separated. Through Sam’s chess teachings, Fresh learns how to respect time and how to read an opponent instead of diving into dangerous waters without a life vest. As these scenes occur, we see Fresh taking the advice from his father and applying it to his own harrowing situation: being a drug runner for multiple drug dealers in New York City. With his new life lessons, Fresh takes on the dangerous world he’s found himself trapped in, trying to beat the checkmate that looms over his king. The use of subtext during Sam and Fresh’s scenes allow for a smooth transition into Fresh’s application of the life lessons, creating a beautiful harmony between Fresh’s internal and external battles. The chess scenes are nothing short of brilliant, particularly when the final one creates one of the best endings I’ve ever seen on film. I’m not kidding, it is a heart-breaking scene that will reduce you to tears.
Besides praising the script of this great piece of artwork, Act one is primarily used for introducing us to the characters and the movie’s universe itself, which is exactly what Act one is meant for. While all the characters are great, even Fresh’s best friend Chuckie is decent even though he can get annoying, the best and most entertaining character is Esteban, played by Giancarlo Esposito. The best way to describe Esteban is as a Gentle but evil man. His first scene paints him as the father figure Fresh needs, but then no more than two minutes later do we see the sick and psychotic nature of this villain. He’s the type of villain you want to see Fresh defeat, but his character is so good that you do not want to see him go. Seriously, when Esteban appears on screen, I didn’t want the scene to end. I knew greatness was about to occur and it shouldn’t be let go. I’m probably sounding like a geeky fanboy right now, but when you’ve studied film and acting like I have, then you develop a different kind of ear and eye for performances like this. A performance that was Oscar-worthy.
The musical score doesn’t particularly match with the dark and serious tone of the story in many places and some of the kids cannot deliver a line to save their lives, but putting all that aside you’ll see that this is a near-perfectly crafted movie that should be studied in schools. This script and its visual counterpart should be used to teach the next generation of filmmakers about the power of subtext and editing. Both elements are on the highest pedestals during this one, so I highly recommend this one to everyone who is of age, but be aware that “Fresh” is quite brutal and violent at times. Check out the basketball scene to see what I am talking about.
Entertainment – 5
From beginning to end, I was completely immersed into the world that was presented. Each character was a living and breathing entity, regardless of how bad some line deliveries were, and the dialogue snap, crackled and popped enough to heat up my enjoyment. This is a wonderful but heavy film. It’s Shakespearian in its nature, and concludes with one of those endings that will never leave you. I had to re-watch the ending a few times, just to make sure I witnessed what I witnessed and understood the deep emotional meaning of the final image. I’ve already rolled over to my friends and roommates, praising this movie and telling everyone to watch it.
That’s what I’m telling you to do now. Watch this movie. Its brutal and aggressive nature only compliments its human and metaphorical existence. Just when you think the movie can’t get any better or go in another direction, it does so in a way that would make Shakespeare and “Ocean’s Eleven” very proud. Fresh takes his chess-playing and father’s advice to enact a plan that allows him to cement himself into cinematic history. Hatred, despair, jealousy and anger are all major emotions pumping through the veins of this film, but the biggest emotion you’ll feel during the course of the 2-hour runtime is hope. It’s what keeps Fresh going and it’s what will keep you going too.
Re-Watchability – 5
- Entertainment Value
"Fresh" is about a young drug runner during New York City's drug epidemic. Having a bit of a biopic feel to it, you'll follow Fresh as he climbs the ladder of trust with the dealers he works for and learns life lessons over games of chess with his father. Take his horrific life and mix it with those games of chess, and what pops out is an excellent piece of cinema. Full of brutal violence and heavy emotions and one of the best endings of all time, "Fresh" keeps you on the edge of your seat and makes you hold onto hope for the protagonist's survival. Don't let this one slip past you. If you see it on Netflix, you do not need to go any further.
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