Jump to content

Type keyword(s) to search

Green Book (2018)

  • Reply
  • Start Topic

Recommended Posts

Saw this tonight.  Thought it was really good in a low-key way.  Mahershala Ali gave a restrained, dignified (yet passionate just below the surface) performance -- and I don't know if he can really play the piano well, or if they just did a good job making it look like he could, because holy crap.

Viggo Mortensen was a shocking delight.  I had only seen him as Aragorn... he just disappeared into this role, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was considered his best to date.

And Linda Cardellini, so glad to see you.  She deserves to be in more TV and movie roles...

  • Love 6
Link to comment
8 hours ago, Brn2bwild said:

Mahershala Ali gave a restrained, dignified (yet passionate just below the surface) performance -- and I don't know if he can really play the piano well, or if they just did a good job making it look like he could, because holy crap.

  • Love 6
Link to comment

I really enjoyed this movie.  I'm not sure if it deserves a Best Picture Oscar, but the performances were very strong.  Mahershala Ali is a powerhouse and Viggo is like a freakin' chameleon.  It was visually beautiful, too.  I support any nominations it gets. 

  • Love 3
Link to comment

I haven't seen it yet (it's on the list), but I'll probably judge it more as something fact-"based" than as rigorous biography. But that's my usual practice anyway. Last year we had Winston Churchill riding on the underground and soliciting the common folk's thoughts before making a major policy decision, as well as gross distortions of the Labour Party's anti-Nazism position. One of the harshest critics of that film called it "superb Brexit propaganda," but neither that disavowal nor #metoo concerns slowed Mr. Oldman's march to podium after podium. (And Darkest Hour is, it must be said, a very well-acted and well-made film, however dubious it is as scholarship.)

Everything I've ever seen about real people and events has had some combination of simplifications, exaggerations, composite or outright invented characters, chronological rejiggering. Some films just play better the less you know. I'll evaluate it based on how well it achieves what it sets out to do. It does seem that the performances of Mortensen and Ali are what everyone agrees are its greatest strengths. If it turns out to be 2018's equivalent of Hidden Figures, manipulative pap masquerading as an empowering true story (that one too had likable actors who were good in it)...well, the world will keep turning.  

Edited by Simon Boccanegra
  • Love 6
Link to comment
On 1/19/2019 at 11:43 PM, Brn2bwild said:

Viggo Mortensen was a shocking delight.  I had only seen him as Aragorn... he just disappeared into this role, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was considered his best to date.

You really should see him in Eastern Promises, A Walk on the Moon, and The Prophecy. Three completely different roles, and he is riveting in all of them. In The Prophecy, in his less than ten minutes on screen as Lucifer, he out-creeps Christopher Walken who is at his creepy best. 

  • Love 4
Link to comment
On 1/20/2019 at 12:43 AM, Brn2bwild said:

And Linda Cardellini, so glad to see you.  She deserves to be in more TV and movie roles...

Yes, indeed. She is agelessly luminous too. I would believe that Brokeback Mountain, her Mad Men role, and Green Book all had been made within about two years. 

I do think it's a drag that so many good female actors have to settle for "loving wife" roles, in which the hero goes out and has all his adventures while the Missus is in a few home scenes looking after the kids, or her husband stops in and she says Supportive Things. The parts add up to little screen time and not much of the character's own. I thought the same thing recently when I saw Tika Sumpter as Casey Affleck's wife in The Old Man and the Gun, even though they did a great job of creating a loving family. But all you can do is praise the actresses for making an impact with what they have to work with, and both Sumpter and Cardellini did that. I loved Cardellini's ultimate face-to-face scene with Mahershala Ali.  

I saw the movie in a matinee showing Friday and found it polished, handsome, well acted, and agreeable. For all the objections of Dr. Shirley's relatives, I thought the film's version of Dr. Shirley was the more successful of the two major characterizations, purely in dramatic terms. The screenplay's version of Tony Lip didn't track as well for me, in that he seemed to be as racist or as enlightened as any particular scene needed him to be. When they took the trouble to establish that this is the kind of guy who would throw away drinking glasses after black men had "tainted" them, I expected a rougher ride, as it were, in his adjustment to a fairly intimate relationship with Dr. Shirley.  But the musical scenes were highlights and were deftly handled, and I see why people are coming out of the movie and immediately Googling to see if Mahershala Ali can play the piano. The quality of the faking was way above average, and yeah, I fell hard for the hokey scene of him playing the Chopin etude in the black dive bar and then jamming with the blues musicians.   

It's not a great film, nor my favorite of the Best Picture nominees (I'm only up to four of nine). Mid-20th-century race relations have been the subject of so many great, good, or okay films that I think something has to be very special to distinguish itself in that canon, and this only gets about 65 percent of the way to special. But I can see why people enjoy it, and I did. If it stirs some renewed interest in the real Don Shirley's recordings, that will be a good outcome.  

  • Love 6
Link to comment

Finally got to see the Best Picture nominee that is second only to Bohemian Rhapsody as the Most Polarizing!

Overall, I enjoyed it for what it is, but I can understand the complaints over it playing loose with historical facts, playing it safe with the storytelling, and basically treating the racism and bigotry in a somewhat shallow way.  It did kind of remind me of Hidden Figures in a lot of way, which was another film I didn't quite adore like a bunch of others did, because it was simply one of those films that felt like it needed to be heavy-handed and spell everything out to the audience.  Then again, since it seems to be succeeding as a "crowd-pleaser", I guess I can't fault them for taking that approach.

The acting definitely carried the film.  Tony Lip might have certainly skated the line at being too much of caricature (I'm pretty sure he even said "fuggedaboutit" at one point), but Viggo Mortensen was able to inject enough to the role, to make him feel like there was more to him than meets the eye.  Unsurprisingly, Mahershala Ali was perfection as Don Shirley, and I am certain down with him getting a second Oscar (either that or a Sam Elliot upset.)  And both actors had great chemistry and were splendid together. 

Always great seeing Linda Cardellini, but yeah, is she ever actually going to get a role worthy of her talent?  I feel like they should just make a film starring all of the great working actress, who get stuck playing these type of roles (off the top of my head, I got Cardellini, Laura Dern, and Judy Greer, although I'm sure the list will be a mile long...) 

The aesthetics and production design was good.  Really felt like they teleported back to the 1960s.

In the end, I don't it warrant as much of harsh treatment it has gotten, but like with Bohemian Rhapsody, I felt like it was simply a B or B+ film that is being treated like an A film in the award season, and that getting it some backlash.  But I enjoyed it. 

  • Love 2
Link to comment

I really enjoyed this a lot. Mainly as a character portrait (and I'm a sucker for road movies). Was it groundbreaking and "never-before-seen?" Nope. But for me, sometimes that's okay. It's like a warm blanket of tropes (snuggly snuggly tropes).

I also have to note -- I'm biased. I grew up on Don Shirley. The man was just a genius. Just amazing. Combining the crisp classical skills of a traditional classical musician with this brilliant freewheeling jazz quirk and humor and pathos. I mean, just... gobsmackingly amazing. My dad adored (and adores) him. To this day, the little-known piece "Water Boy" is one of my favorite musical moments across jazz, classical, whatever you choose. Please do check it out! I link it below.

Meanwhile, this article offered what I felt was a balanced look at the myth and reality of it -- the fact is, Shirley was recorded saying, of Tony: “I trusted him implicitly. Tony, not only was he my driver. We never had an employer-employee relationship. We got to be friendly with one another.”


I feel like the family of course probably has real reason to be disappointed with the film's portrait of Shirley (especially because it states he has no acknowledged family and won't speak to his brother Maurice), but I also do have to ask if part of their unhappiness is with that presentation of Shirley's relationship with his family (versus of his relationship to Tony). And if that wasn't accurate, of course they should be disappointed. But... it pays homage to him in a way I think is pretty balanced and lovely. Don is the sophisticate here, and that's a welcome change for me cinematically.

After reading a few articles on the potential disparities, I basically feel okay. I take the film as a character portrait in a specific place and time. I assume by its nature that it's an affectionate reimagining. 

Where I object is the idea of Don Shirley as reduced to the "Magical Negro" trope. Yes, I've hated this in other films (don't get me started on "Bagger Vance" etc.). 

However, here... Don is an erudite, elegant and brilliant man. This is based on fact. Was he supposed to be dumbed-down so he wasn't so amazing? Even though we saw his flaws onscreen?

I agree that the film's formula is simplistic -- Tony learns to be a better man from Don -- but I still think it's a formula that works. And I found it endearing and genuinely engaging.

And I thought both Viggo and Mahershala (and Cardellini) were so lovely and human and real, and impeccably, warmly acted.

Here's "Water Boy," one of my all-time favorite pieces by Don and his trio. I also want to specially call out Juri Taht, the cellist on this piece, because it really spotlights him and he is AMAZING (I'm a terrible amateur cellist myself):

Edited by paramitch
Note: This is the ONLY posting of "Water Boy" I could find that is the original version I grew up with. Please ignore the weird images.
  • Love 10
Link to comment
On 2/24/2019 at 11:39 PM, thuganomics85 said:

getting to see Mahershala Ali act in another Best Picture winner.

And win another Oscar. Pretty impressive, considering that the Academy doesn't typically like to re-reward someone so close to a previous victory.

  • Love 3
Link to comment

I really loved this movie in a retro, Pleasantville kind of way. I adore Viggo and I felt he really worked this part well. I was a probation officer working with organized crime figures in NJ....and the mannerisms and interaction style rang true for me. I don’t think it was the best movie of the year but I’m not unhappy about the best picture Oscar.

  • Love 1
Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...