by Brad Nelson 3/17/19
With parts of Beauty and the Beast, The Odd Couple, Driving Miss Daisy, and Goodfellas, Green Book was the winner for Best Picture in 2018.
The “Green Book,” which is more a prop than a central aspect of the film, is (was) an official guide for where Negroes could stay in the Democrat-Party-controlled South which still had whites-only establishments.
One supposes this is loosely based on actual events but one can suppose that the individual events portrayed in the movie happened often. Effete virtuoso, Donald Shirley, (played with effective strangeness by Mahershala Ali) has decided to take his classical-oriented Don Shirley Trio on the road. He’ll hit all points in the Democrat-Party-controlled South of 1962 and needs a combination driver/security-man.
He finds this in Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) who is temporarily out of a job as a bouncer of a New York club. First off, I did like this movie and recommend it. But frontmost in my mind regarding any Academy Award winner is whether it’s been given an award because it’s artistically good or because it virtue-signals all the right liberal points.
My suspicions firmly set, this movie does start off firmly as a sort of “Magic Negro” story of the refined and intelligent black man (who, in this case, hails from Pensacola, Florida by way of Jamaica, not Detroit’s inner city) who is going to teach the crude, ignorant white man how to be a descent human being.
Indeed, there are likely several themes in this that caused it to be voted as Best Picture (including sympathy toward homosexuality) rather than the merits of the picture itself. Still, those merits are firmly there, no matter the reason the Academy singled this movie out.
Had the movie stayed where it was in the first 20 minutes — implicit virtue-signally by the Libtards — I likely would have turned it off. But it didn’t stay there. Despite two strikes against this film (Best Picture Oscar and Viggo Mortensen), it eventually portrays both principals (Shirley and Tony Lip) as people rather than stereotypes.
The “Magic Negro” turns from the sophisticate who can do no wrong to a deeply troubled human being who can actually learn a thing or two from the more Italian-mob homespun Tony Lip. The reverse is true as well with Shirley helping Tony write letters back home to his wife.
Shirley and Tony certainly do meet villains and danger in the Democrat-Party-controlled South, including many scenes of great poignancy. Shirley is allowed to play for rich whites in the Democrat-Party-controlled South but can’t eat with them in the same restaurant.
It’s almost certain that 99% of liberals who watch this will not get the universalist points underlying the film. If you look at today’s Democrat Party which squelches free speech, enforces conformity while speaking empty chants of “diversity,” and is as dogmatic and authoritarian as any regime since the Democrat-Party-controlled Old South, you can tell they didn’t quite get the message of this film even though the Academy, overwhelmingly liberal, voted for it.
In the end, both Don and Tony are individual men, more than their skin color or ethnicity. Shirley is thoroughly out of place wherever he goes, neither being a “street negro” (or the kind of black musician popular at the time that everyone expected him to be). Nor did he fit in with the rich whites who were his main audience for his classical works and yet with whom he could not (at least in the Democrat-Party-controlled South) share a meal.
Today, any black man who strays from the narrow vision of authentic “blackness” that Democrat-Party activists require is called an Uncle Tom, or worse. Refreshingly, in this film we glimpse the struggle of people against stereotypes. And it’s hard to imagine modern liberals in the Academy seeing or understanding this film as anything other than “flattering to the black man,” a general sentiment that is payment for their collective white guilt.
But who knows? What we can say is that director Peter Farrelly and the writers have fashioned something much more than could have come out of the narrow and bland minds of liberal dogma. Aside from the human elements, this film is a wonderful visual flashback to the sites and styles of 1962. Filmed in a sort of faded Kodachrome palette, it’s a beautiful film.
Although it takes some time to get used to the Dr. Donald Shirley character (one isn’t sure if this will be a one-note performance or not early-on), Mortensen as Tony Lip is surprisingly effective. He hasn’t been this good since Lord of the Rings. They overdo his love for food (in no way is he as large as he should be for the amount of food he eats). But whereas you’d expect his character to be a repository for constant virtue-signaling (if only as a Falstaff-like buffoon), he is instead more complex than this or even than his Goodfellas persona.
Mahershala Ali plays a mildly-unlikable character, at least at the beginning. He’s a perfectionist snob. I’m not sure how the Academy gave a nod to a film wherein Mortensen says something like “I’m blacker than you are.” But, regreshingly, it’s a point well made by his character and humorous at the same time. And that is a central point of the appeal of Green Book. This is not a 130 minute harangue of bad white people in the Democrat-Party-controlled South. There’s a a lot of humor in it, a thing in itself that sets it outside the narrow confines of liberal artistic dogma where if you’re not overly “serious” you’re being insulting.
And although the role is not large, Linda Cardellini simply sparkles as the wife of Tony, proving that there are no small parts, only small actors. Her role is also telling in regards to the general tone of the film. Stereotypes and movie cliches would require the wife of Tony Lip to be a nagging, bitter, angry anchor-like weight on his life that he can’t wait to spend eight weeks away from. Instead, she is just the opposite. She’s happy in her role as wife and mother.
In the end, this is not a bitter or contemptuous film. It is a hopeful one.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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