Green Book (2018)

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Green Book
(2018)
It’s a sure fire indication of a weak field when a shaky film such as Green Book finds itself in serious consideration within a number of Academy Award top categories. Hollywood has put excellence in story telling on the back burner for the past few years in favor of promoting its own fashionable social causes. Now, just in case there are folks who haven’t been to a movie since 1960, the writers of Green Book endeavor to show us that there was deep racial prejudice against blacks in the U.S., most especially in the South.

The story creates an account of one of America’s premier pianists named Don Shirley, a black man, who embarked on a year-plus concert tour in 1962, of which many dates were in the South. Because of racist violence against Nat King Cole at a concert in Alabama in 1960, Shirley hired Tony “Lip” Vallelonga --a mob friendly Italian who worked at Manhattan’s Copacabana night club-- to be his driver and bodyguard.

Beyond these basic facts the story is completely fictionalized. To their credit, the producers announced in the opening credits that the film was “inspired by a true story”. “Inspired by” means that the Shirley/Vallelonga tour gave them an idea for a story. Unfortunately in the film version, the tour was shrunk to two months, and was made to end just before Christmas so that Tony could return home to be with his family, and to set up a dramatic ending. In Hollywood fashion Tony and Don soon became buds, yet in true life Shirley’s brother stated that Don never considered Tony a friend, but only an employee who he required to wear a chauffer’s uniform and a cap. And there are no reports of racial incidents on the tour. Presumably the pair did make use of the “The Negro Motorist Green-Book” (actual title) in selecting their safe accommodations.

This is certainly not the first time Hollywood has made up an entire story based on an actual event, and in fact there probably have been more fictionalized movie accounts than not. But while watching the film the question kept coming up: what was this film’s point of view? And whose story were they trying to portray? Certainly they were going for both entertainment and social justice value; but after the many dozens of movies dealing with black/white racial issues over the past 60 years, the back story of the Jim Crow South was not a shocker.



At least since 1958, with The Defiant Ones, then Patch of Blue, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, on through Driving Miss Daisy, even Forrest Gump, along with scores of others since, have thoroughly explored and displayed the subject of prejudice against mixed race pairings, and in prejudice in general. Yet in Green Book we are treated to the corniest scenes of southern boobs dishing out the rankest forms of racial derision in such hackneyed form that it bordered on satire. One half expected to see Sheriff Buford T. Justice appear.

If the film’s title and subject matter were any indication that the focus was on Don Shirley, his beliefs, and his quest to endure a music tour of the South, then it came as a surprise that the thrust of the story put most of the emphasis on Tony Lip: his background, his actions, his philosophy, his awakening. Reportedly this was not lost on Shirley’s relatives, who resented the depiction of their family relationships, along with the emphasis put on Tony Lip.

The chief disappointment in the film was the writing. Director Peter Farrelly is known for wacky comedies, and this was his first foray into drama. He participated in the scripting with a sophomore writer, Brian Currie, along with Tony Vallelongas’s son Nick. Tony Lip’s part was the better of the two in construction, and Viggo Mortensen brought in an award winning quality performance. There must have been indecision about scripting Don Shirley’s part. In an attempt to give the character too many facets, the result was a personality who was all over the map, which must have made it a difficult continuity project for the actor. In his defense Mahershala Ali stated that he’d liked to have met with Shirley’s family in order to provide a more nuanced character. Still, what he did well, he did really well. Of particular note was his portrayal of piano playing. He’d worked with composer Kris Bowers until he really appeared to be playing the difficult piano pieces.

Despite its anachronistic nature, heftier writers with a different approach could have made this story into a more interesting film.



Doc’s rating: 5/10
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I saw it and thought it was very good. I felt that Farrelly brought a nice touch to it, cause the chemistry between the two leads is kind of like what you would see in a buddy comedy, but it's done in a drama which I liked.

One thing that kind of stuck out for me though, is

SPOILER

The scene where they depicted Shirley as gay. I looked this up to see if it was in the real life events, and it is said that the two cops arrested Shirley saying that he was arrested for hitting on men in real life. But I feel that cops would just make up any charges to arrest a black man, and it was even said so in the movie that they would when he was arrested again for no legal reason.

So I feel that the cops very well could have made this up, that he was gay, and that the movie shouldn't have so blatantly, presented this as fact, with no confirmation. Unless I am wrong, or looking at it the wrong way?

But it was still a very good movie I thought, and I thought I was going to think it was overrated like most best picture Oscar winners, but this one I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.



this movie deserved the oscar



I saw it and thought it was very good. I felt that Farrelly brought a nice touch to it, cause the chemistry between the two leads is kind of like what you would see in a buddy comedy, but it's done in a drama which I liked.


The scene where they depicted Shirley as gay. I looked this up to see if it was in the real life events, and it is said that the two cops arrested Shirley saying that he was arrested for hitting on men in real life. But I feel that cops would just make up any charges to arrest a black man, and it was even said so in the movie that they would when he was arrested again for no legal reason.
My take on this scene is not that Shirley was arrested for "being Gay"...whatever he and this guy were doing, I got the impression they were doing it in a public place and that technically, the charge was something like Public Indecency...gay or straight, having sex in public is still against the law.



Oh yeah, bought I thought in the real life situation, the cops may have trumped up the charges, just as a reason to arrest a black person, compared to the crime actually being true.



The film is worth Oscar.





Green Book
[b] (2018)


Despite its anachronistic nature, heftier writers with a different approach could have made this story into a more interesting film.
You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I couldn't disagree more with your feelings about this film...just because it's fictionalized doesn't make it a bad film. Here's a link to my review:


https://www.movieforums.com/reviews/...reen-book.html




Green Book
(2018)
The story creates an account of one of America’s premier pianists named Don Shirley, a black man, who embarked on a year-plus concert tour in 1962, of which many dates were in the South. Because of racist violence against Nat King Cole at a concert in Alabama in 1960, Shirley hired Tony “Lip” Vallelonga --a mob friendly Italian who worked at Manhattan’s Copacabana night club-- to be his driver and bodyguard.

Beyond these basic facts the story is completely fictionalized. To their credit, the producers announced in the opening credits that the film was “inspired by a true story”. “Inspired by” means that the Shirley/Vallelonga tour gave them an idea for a story.... In Hollywood fashion Tony and Don soon became buds, yet in true life Shirley’s brother stated that Don never considered Tony a friend, but only an employee who he required to wear a chauffer’s uniform and a cap. And there are no reports of racial incidents on the tour...
Doc’s rating: 5/10
I just now read your review of Green Book (after I posted my own review on my review thread here)...I like yours better!

I did not know that most of what we seen in the movie was fake, OMG does Hollywood really need to further risk heightening racial tensions, just so that they can make a feel good ending to their movie? Why not tell the real story of Dr. Shirley's tour? That would have been more interesting and more uplifting too.

BTW, I'm not Italian but the film made a mockery out of the Italian character Tony Lipp, with it's over the top ethnic caricatures...Like you said the writing was from someone use to doing wacky over the top comedy. I did like the car they drove though.



I I'm not Italian but the film made a mockery out of the Italian character Tony Lipp, with it's over the top ethnic caricatures...
Viggo trying to be Tony Soprano was so cringeworthy. I bailed out of this movie I hated it so much.
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Green Book is a very well executed movie with very memorable characters and dialogue. It's great piece of Hollywood entertainment. Yes, it is not artistically innovative or visually impressive, but it truly became what it tried to be. So, overall, it's a very good movie.

I think that those people who like to trash movies like these need to find a different hobby. I mean, if you don't like the Hollywood movies that almost all people who are into movies like that means, well, that maybe watching Hollywood movies is not for you. How about playing Dota 2?

BTW, I'm not Italian but the film made a mockery out of the Italian character Tony Lipp, with it's over the top ethnic caricatures...Like you said the writing was from someone use to doing wacky over the top comedy. I did like the car they drove though.
I am 1/4 Italian. So, well, the character was obviously very cartoonish but I liked him. Of course it's not a realistic movie: it is a movie, trying to make a perfectly realistic movie is a goal that not all movies should try to aspire to, since art is no simple mechanical reproduction of reality.



...I think that those people who like to trash movies like these need to find a different hobby. I mean, if you don't like the Hollywood movies that almost all people who are into movies like that means, well, that maybe watching Hollywood movies is not for you.

How about playing Dota 2?
How about if you watch some more cartoons.




I think that those people who like to trash movies like these need to find a different hobby. I mean, if you don't like the Hollywood movies that almost all people who are into movies like that means, well, that maybe watching Hollywood movies is not for you.
I think that people who expect all people to like the same things, including all movies, are nuts.



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