Just a thought… If you plan everything in life, it means you’ll never experience something unexpected. [Anonymous]
Thanks for sharing a few minutes here today. Today, a suggestion on how you might like to spend a few hours….
Now that the Golden Globe nominations have been announced (airing Sunday, January 6th) I for one am going to make a point of seeing the titles and performances that have been given the most attention, just to find out what the fuss is about. We’re anxiously watching to see when The Favourite hits our area! Huge excitement over that one.
But another film that is getting a lot of applause is one that we have seen: Green Book, co-starring Moonlight‘s marvelous Mahershala Ali and Eastern Promises’ and Lord of the Rings’ Viggo Mortensen.
The five-time Golden Globe-nominated film (including nods for director and screenplay, as well as Ali and Mortensen) was a fan favourite at TIFF last September. It’s based on the true story of Doctor Donald Shirley, a wildly talented African-American pianist who decides to shrug off the (relatively) less racist climate of his New York City home, and tackle a concert tour in the 1962 US deep south.
Mortensen plays Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (so nicknamed for his BS talents), an out-of-work nightclub bouncer who is hired by Shirley’s record label to drive him and protect him during his tour. And that’s where we come to the movie’s title.
The Green Book was the name of a guide to establishments – more like sleezy motels – that black travellers could stay in “safely” while in the south, published by Victor H. Green & Co from 1936 to 1967. Don’t forget, these were the times when a person with dark skin couldn’t dine, sleep, swim or visit a washroom in the same places that white people could. Dr. Shirley gets himself into trouble simply for being black – regardless of his genius or numerous degrees – and for stepping outside the white lines and gradually he and Tony learn a lot more about each other than they see on the surface.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s not formulaic in the least. Some have called it Driving Miss Daisy in reverse (which would make for an awkward trip – all of that looking over your shoulder LOL) but it didn’t feel like that to us. And the fact that comedic director Peter Farrelly (Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber) is at the helm means lots of sprinkles of laughter and light moments.
It really is a gem and it’s no wonder this film has been getting accolades. It even got nominated in the Best Film COMEDY category in last week’s Golden Globe announcements. To me, that’s not a fit at all, but I guess the film’s producers choose to pitch to the category where they feel they have the best chance of winning.
As for performances, plenty of the real Tony Lip’s family are in the film (his son wrote it and is seen in it, too). The acting bug runs in the family: Tony himself appeared in several films including The Godfather and three seasons of The Sopranos! If you have time, your jaw will drop reading this story in the New York Post about the real Tony Vallelonga. His entire life could be a series or movie. What a journey!
If you can still find Green Book in a theatre, I highly recommend it. There are echoes of the return of overt racism that we’re seeing every day in the news and online, and like the trailer for Schindler’s List (which returns in a 25th anniversary edition this month), it’s a timely reminder that – to paraphrase – the only way for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.
Thanks for being here today and we’ll talk with you here tomorrow.