Fresh (1994 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Boaz Yakin|
|Produced by||Lawrence Bender
|Written by||Boaz Yakin|
Samuel L. Jackson
|Music by||Stewart Copeland|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Release dates||August 24, 1994|
|Running time||114 min.|
Fresh is a 1994 crime film written and directed by Boaz Yakin in his film directorial debut, and produced by Lawrence Bender (seen in a cameo appearance), who was riding the wave of success of Reservoir Dogs. It was scored by Stewart Copeland, a member of The Police.
Marketed as a hip hop 'hood film, Fresh went relatively unnoticed by the public, but won critical acclaim. An emotional coming of age story, it offers a realistic glimpse of the dangerous life in New York City's projects during the crack epidemic. "There's shocking resonance to the notion of a grade-school boy who's become a criminal out of sheer pragmatism," wrote Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman.
Michael, nicknamed Fresh (portrayed by Sean Nelson), is a 12-year old kid running drugs for gangsters, notably Esteban (Giancarlo Esposito). Inspired by the chess lessons of his father, an alcoholic speed-chess master (Samuel L. Jackson), Fresh devises and executes a brilliant plan to extricate himself and his drug-addicted sister (N'Bushe Wright) from their hopeless lives.
- Sean Nelson as Fresh
- Giancarlo Esposito as Esteban
- Samuel L. Jackson as Sam
- N'Bushe Wright as Nichole
- Ron Brice as Corky
- Jean-Claude La Marre as Jake
- Jose Zuniga as Lt. Perez
- Luis Lantigua as Chuckie
- Yul Vazquez as Chillie
- Cheryl Freeman as Aunt Frances
- Anthony Thomas as Red
- Curtis McClarin as Darryl
- Charles Malik Whitfield as Smokey
- Victor Gonzalez as Herbie
- Guillermo Diaz as Spike
- Anthony Ruiz as Hector
- Natima Bradley as Rosie
Janet Maslin of The New York Times commended the "thoughtfulness of [Boaz] Yakin's direction" and wrote that he "doesn't include many violent episodes in this film, but the ones he stages are made so meaningful that their impact is brutalizingly intense." She also complimented Adam Holender's cinematography and commented that he makes the film "extraordinarily handsome, with a sharply sunlit look that brings out the hard edges in its urban landscapes. The subject and visual style could not be more forcefully matched." Although he did not find its second half believable, Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B rating and called Nelson a "wondrous young actor". James Berardinelli called Jackson's supporting role "an example of an actor at his most focused" and called Fresh "an atypical thriller -- a film that succeeds because it defies many conventions of its genre." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four out of four stars and called it "a movie filled with drama and excitement, unfolding a plot of brilliant complexity". He praised Nelson's performance as "extraordinary" and found its plot "focused and perceptive", praising it for its social commentary:
[V]iolent death is a fact of life in America today. Guns have made our cities unsafe for children. What Fresh does is bring a new perspective to those facts, in the form of both drama and thriller. This is not an action film, not a clever, superficial thriller, but a story of depth and power, in which the dangerous streets are seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old who reacts with the objectivity he has learned from chess, and the anger taught to him by his life.
A soundtrack album was released on August 30, 1994 by RCA Records. It featured three songs by the Wu-Tang Clan and nine songs by old school hip hop artists, including The Cold Crush Brothers, Whodini, and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Allmusic editor Chris Witt gave the soundtrack album four-and-a-half out of five stars and noted its old school tracks as the highlights, writing that "The contrast between the life and color of the old school tracks and the unrelenting gloom of the Wu-Tang cuts, produced over ten years later, suggests that hip-hop may have lost something in the intervening years."
- Gleiberman, Owen. ""Movie Review: Fresh"". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- Ebert, Roger (August 31, 1994). "Fresh". Chicago Sun-Times (Chicago). Retrieved 2012-06-23.
- Berry & Berry (2007), p. 128.
- "Fresh". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
- Maslin, Janet (April 1, 1994). Tomatoes "Movie Review - Fresh - Review-Film Festival; Black, 12 and Complex More Than Role Models". The New York Times (New York). Retrieved 2012-06-23.
- Berardinelli, James. "Fresh". Reelviews. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
- Witt, Chris. "Fresh [Original Soundtrack] - Original Soundtrack". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-06-23.
- Berry, Torriano; Berry, Venise T. (2007). Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0810855453.
- Seewood, Andre (2008). Slave Cinema: The Crisis of the African-American in Film. Xlibris Press. ISBN 9781436321792.
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- Fresh at the Internet Movie Database
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- Fresh at allmovie
- Fresh at Box Office Mojo