film response: Green Book

Don't expect much from this Oscar winner. But don't overreact, either.

Originally published on Letterboxd.

Green Book
Directed by Peter Farrelly
(Remember Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary? That Peter Farrelly.)
USA, 2018

I guess I was supposed to hate this, but it’s so generally unobjectionable that I couldn’t possibly. I mean, as biography and as history, it’s a two-star movie, maybe one-star depending on how seriously you take its ellisions, mischaracterizations, and outright lies. However, if you come in cold, it’s basically well-meaning, liberal kitsch that’s at least as much about class differences as it is about racial differences. Sexual differences don’t seem to amount to much and maybe that will make Green Book a one-star movie for some of us. But maybe it makes Green Book a 4-star movie for folks in PFLAG. I mean, who am I to deny them that pleasure?

The liberal tack now, in contemporary mainstream media production, particularly strong in television, in case you hadn’t noticed, is to simply erase differences: Prejudice? Hatred? Systemic injustice? Or the common sense realization that we’re not all exactly the same? We’re beyond that now and we sure as hell don’t want to depict the arduous work it took and still takes to make progress. But if you’re looking for that sort of intelligence, Oscar noms are the last place you’ll find it. I’ve seen more nuance in Riverdale.

I’d also heard that Viggo’s performance was…how did Bitchy Gay Men put it? Oh yeah, the Italian guy off the pizza box. But I’ve seen about a billion less subtle, more hammy, Italian-male impersonations in movies and I thought Viggo was all right. He didn’t overact, if that’s what they mean.

Mahershala Ali is stellar, of course, and outshines Viggo here, but the script really doesn’t give either of them much room to stretch out.

This does seem like typical Oscar bait, but also, because it’s a kind of revenge for Driving Miss Daisy, another Best-Picture winner that no one watches anymore, I can’t get all that worked up about it either way. So yeah, 3 stars means “worth seeing” on my scale so don’t expect much.

But also, try not to get your woke panties in a twist. It’s not worth it.

Written with StackEdit.

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