Tuesday, December 18, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 41
Signup

Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review
CREED II
GREEN BOOK
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
MARY POPPINS RETURNS
MORTAL ENGINES
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2
SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
THE GRINCH
WIDOWS

GREEN BOOK

PHOTO BY DREAMWORKS

GREEN BOOK


Where is it playing?: Parks Plaza

What's it rated?: PG-13

What's it worth?: $Full Price

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

    Co-writer Peter Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary) directs this biopic about African-American pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), who hires working-class Italian-American bouncer Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) as his driver on a music tour of 1960s American South. Though they’re very different people, they develop a warm and enduring friendship.
    This is one of those classic feel-good movies only a true cynic could reject. Both lead characters come out of the other side of the story improved. Ignorance drives racism and classism in equal measures, and Tony’s culturally based racism crashes headlong into Don’s elitist classism, forcing both of them to grow and expand their minds.
    We see Tony’s racism not only in his use of pejoratives such as “eggplant” to describe black people, but also in his actions. He’s not the type to call a black person a name to his face or to physically assault one, but when his wife serves two black plumbers glasses of water after they finish a job at his apartment, Tony takes the glasses his wife left in the sink to wash and throws them in the trash.
    Likewise, we witness Don’s elitism in his inherent sense of superiority. When he’s interviewing for drivers in his apartment (above Carnegie Hall, no less), he sits before his potential employee on an elevated throne. His imperial comport—head raised high, posture perfect—signals to those around him that he is regal and they’re underlings.
    Tony, in need of a job and with Christmas approaching, reluctantly agrees to work for Don, and along the way they learn to look past their initial judgments of one another and truly see the other’s worth as a man. In fact, their very different interpretations of manhood also transform over the course of the story.
    I couldn’t help but grow to like them both, even though they couldn’t be more different. I liked them even more at the ends of their respective character arcs.
    The performances also help the film shine, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see one or both men nominated for Best Actor. Mortensen has proven himself a chameleon, who in my book became a star under director David Cronenberg in A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. Appaloosa, The Road, Captain Fantastic—he’s got an amazing range. He packed on a lot of weight to play Tony, a voracious eater with a thick accent. He’s twice been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. Maybe this is his year.
    Ali’s breakout performances was in 2016’s Moonlight, for which he won Best Actor in a Supporting Role, but he’s been amazing in The Place Beyond the Pines and Free State of Jones. You’re really seeing two master actors at the top of their game, and they have a wonderful chemistry between them.
    Tony’s son Nick Vallelonga is one of the screenwriters, and in the closing credits you see photos of the real life Tony and Don, who remained lifelong friends after the tour.
    Of course, a lot of the film examines the Jim Crow South and the whole idea of “traveling while black.” The film’s title refers to a publication called The Negro Motorist Green Book, which gave black travelers lists of establishments—mainly restaurants and hotels—that would serve black clients. There were actually “sundowner towns” in the South where black people were subject to arrest if they were within city limits after sunset. What a sad time in American history, but thank god for films like this to remind us of our past. It only skims the surface of 1960s race problems, but more importantly, it tells a poignant and uplifting story that suggests we can do better. (130 min.)
—Glen Starkey




Weekly Poll
What's your favorite type of poem?

Haiku.
Sonnet.
Free verse.
Dirty limerick.

| Poll Results