Green Book always looked like it was going to be predictable. There’s this thing when people from outside of the South make movies about the South. Regardless of the decade, it’s yet another outsider feeling like he/she/sentient toaster has to teach the South about its history. Yet, they can’t get the details or historical facts right. They also cut between three cities and try to make it seem like the story is taking place in the same area.
I admire that Peter Farrelly directed a movie of this nature. It’s always interesting to see comedic directors break out deeper into dramatic efforts. Especially since it seems that everybody forgot about his work on Outside Providence. Hell, I couldn’t even get a decent Wiki link to help explain it to the younger readers. Anyways, it kinda blew my mind the amount of grief that Farrelly took on the direction. He directed the hell out of the movie. What sucks is the script.
But, that’s what happens when you have a guy writing about his dad’s extended vacation in the South. Then, you tack on another writer with a different vision and then the director. Three guys fought over the direction and I’m sure that Universal had something to do with coloring the portrayal of Dr. Shirley. If you’re not familiar with Don Shirley, then give his bio a quick read. It’s weird to see a movie like this portray someone in a positive yet bad light.
Mahershala Ali will get the Award recognition that he deserves. However, Ali is slumming it here. Even when he takes the stage, he has this look that seems to have struck Christoph Waltz recently. You’re not winning because of the role, you’re winning because people are floored by your talents. Ali did amazing work trying to mind the diamonds out of the thin layer of shit that Green Book laid down. But, there’s that damn fried chicken scene.
The problem with nostalgic looks back at the Civil Rights movement is that the people doing it are in the present. Very rarely did movements and events get the timely assessments they needed. However, retrograde depictions are always sniping from the cheap seats. Also, I wish that people from the Coasts had the slightest idea what constitutes the Deep South. It’s a lot more than when the Howard Johnson’s become Stuckey’s. It’s when you start seeing more Blue Laws, towns effectively shutting down at a certain time of night and the Confederate Flag as far as the eye can see.
Green Book pisses me off in a way that a Best Picture winner hasn’t done in a bit. I didn’t care about Crash, because it was a legit protest vote because people like Ernest Borgnine couldn’t wrap his mind around Brokeback Mountain. Green Book is the movie that happens when people become too comfortable with a bad idea. Sure, it could’ve been an amazing biopic about Dr. Shirley, yet Universal knew that wasn’t going to happen. You don’t buy a script based on Tony Lip’s kid’s memories of his dad’s odd trip in the 60s and expect something else.
More than anything, Green Book is what happens when baby boomers get to sink their teeth into cultural history. Everything is filtered through their memory and facts don’t outweigh emotions. Nothing matters than what feels right and heaven forbid if you portray real people correctly. This is a film about a white kid remembering when his white dad learned how to love his family again due to the humanity of an African American pianist. All of that closeted homosexuality, omitting Shirley’s deep role in the Civil Rights movement and general ignorance of South at that point is forgivable. I still can’t say that last part without laughing.
The 4K presentation is strong, but the 2.00:1 framing took some getting used to watching. This isn’t Apocalypse Now, so most of the film felt like a misframed flat movie at times. The Dolby Atmos track makes the musical moments pop, but then falls flat throughout the rest of the film. That’s the rub with Awards Bait movies, they are rarely reference quality material. Still, it’s enjoyable and even the Digital Copy played in true 4K for once on my AppleTV. The featurettes are pretty standard, but they were worth a viewing.
- Virtuoso Performances – Go behind the scenes with Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali as they discuss their characters and the lengths they went to accurately portray them.
- An Unforgettable Friendship – Cast and filmmakers discuss the friendship between Don Shirley and Tony Lip.
- Going Beyond the Green Book – Filmmakers and cast discuss the significance of The Green Book.