Movie Review – Green Book (Oscars 2019 Best Picture Winner!)

Hey 3.5 readers.

Funny.  I actually went out tonight.  I usually stay in on Oscar night and watch the show but I went out and saw Green Book instead.  To my surprise, it won.  It wasn’t surprising, as it was a good movie.  It’s just that I thought BlackKklansman had it locked up

So, that’s a first for me, seeing an Oscar movie in the theater the night it wins.  Someone give me an award for good timing.

Anyway, BQB here with a review.

 

You know, 3.5, as it turns out, there’s more that unites us than what divides us.  We’re all different.  Different races, sexes, classes and yet we’re all just looking for one thing – dignity.

Dr. Don Shirley (Mashershala Ali) is an educated man with multiple doctorates, but in the 1960s, he is most famous for being a talented classical pianist.  So great are his skills that he fills concert halls and moves everyone in attendance with his ivory tickling skills.

He prides himself on dignity and self-respect.  He’s well read and doesn’t care for rudeness, bad manners, bad grammar and so on.

An odd couple road trip is set into motion when nightclub bouncer Tony Lip is recruited to be Doc’s driver and protector on a concert tour through the deep south.

Hard to say it out loud, but Tony hates black people.  In an early scene, a pair of black repairman come to his house to work on an appliance.  When his wife gives them lemonade, he throws the glasses into the trash can, not wanting to drink out of the same glass as a black man.

When his club shuts down, Tony’s out of money and options, so he takes the job driving the Doc and watching his back.

At first, the duo can’t stand each other.  Tony is an uncouth bore, telling inappropriate jokes and constantly shoving fast food in his face.  Tony isn’t a fan of the Doc either, thinking his client is a holier than thou book worm.

Together, they learn and grow.  Doc teaches Tony some much needed gentlemanly skills – how to improve his speaking skills, how to write better, etc.  Tony teaches Doc how to grease the wheels and get out of jams.  In other words, Tony comes across as a dumb brute until his cop bribing skills and willingness to knock punks out comes in handy in the Jim Crow south.

Eventually, Tony drops his racist ways and he and the Doc become the best of friends.

I understand there’s some controversy brewing in that the movie isn’t all that woke in comparison to the other nominees.  Today, we definitely hold people to a higher standard.  You should never be racist and it doesn’t matter how much time has passed since a racist incident.  If you did something racist, then you’re gone.  Tony doesn’t fit that bill because he begins the film as a racist then by the end of the film he has an awakening that makes him a better man.

I don’t know.  On one hand, I get the need for people to be not racist from the start.  On the other hand, we should be encouraging people to be better and improve themselves so…I don’t know.  Somehow those two standpoints need to be reconciled.

There are a few powerful scenes in the film.  Spoiler Alert – the most moving is when Doc and Tony stop along the road to change a tire.  The black workers in the field, one assumes descendants of slaves who worked in the field look on in amazement as it becomes clear to them that Doc is the boss in the back of the car and Tony is his employee.

It’s a good film that tugs at the heart strings.  On top of racial clashes, all types of conflicts are discussed.  Class struggles.  Education struggles.  At times, Tony and Doc class less about race and more about their different education and class levels.  Ironically, Tony is less accomplished than Doc, yet Tony can walk into any establishment while Doc has to wait outside.  Sad to think that this was once the way the country was.

Admittedly, Viggo basically plays a cartoon character version of a mob connected Italian, but to his credit, he does transform into an entirely different person.  He’s lively and humorous, whereas Viggo is usually known for playing quiet, brooding characters.

I enjoy Ali’s performance as well.  At times, I could feel the crushing loneliness Doc felt.  He held multiple doctorates, was rich and talented, but the same rich people who would hire him to play would then turn around and tell him not to use their bathroom after the performance, and generally, had no interest in befriending him or treating him as an equal.  Sadly, at the time, black people didn’t have much access to higher education at the time, so they don’t know what to make of this fancy man in his fancy suits with his fancy way of speaking.  He is utterly alone and no one understands him.

Not sure it was the best film out of those nominated but still a lot of good messages just the same.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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