Film Review: GREEN BOOK (USA 2018) ***** Top 10

Green Book Poster
Trailer

GREEN BOOK, the film is named from The Negro Motorist Green Book, a segregation-era road travel guidebook to help African-Americans dealing with racial discrimination issues and Jim Crow laws, such as whites-only garages, restaurants and hotels refusing services.  This book (nicknamed ‘vacation without aggravation’) is used during the tour of the Deep South in the 1960s by Jamaican-American classical pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and New York bouncer Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), who served as Shirley’s driver and security.

The film follows the protagonist Tony Lip as he takes a difficult new job in order to support his wife, Dolores (Linda Cardellini) and his two kids.  The job is to chauffeur and protect Dr. Shirley as he tours the racial prejudiced deep south.  It is a pretty country but not for the coloured folk there.  It is a simple story but one is both extremely moving and relevant in today’s times.  What makes the film totally winning is that it is a film about discovery, as each of the two main characters Tony and Dr. Shirley learn about each other, the people and ultimately about themselves.

As far as anti-racists films go, GREEN BOOK works because it captures the ugliness of racism without resorting to cheap theatrics and crowd pleasing dramatic setups as in the recent THE HATE U GIVE.  Racism occurs when the guilty racist demonstrates the fact, unaware that the is doing so.  This is demonstrated in the one scene where Tony hits an officer when he calls Tony a half-nigger.

There are many ‘best’ scenes in GREEN BOOK.  My personal favourite is the hotel corridor scene where Dr. Shirley pleads Tony not to give up his job as his chauffeur and driver only to be corrected that he never intended to do so in the first place.

The 60’s period setting is captured by effective yet simple props like the vintage TV, the old telephone, wardrobe and the old vintage cars.  

The film also demonstrates that a film’s climax need not always contain pyrotechnic explosions, super fight sequences or an exciting finish.  GREEN BOOK closes nicely with a well-thought out conclusion.

Besides besides a Top 10 film, GREEN BOOK also contains Top 10 of the year performances by Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali (MOONLIGHT).  Both actors are superb, Ali delivering a more controlled performance only letting all the emotions go in the one scene when his character walks out of the car in the pouring rain.  Mortensen (of Danish origin) perfects Tony’s Italian mannerisms to a ‘T’, putting on physically the weight of the role.  He captures the naivety and street smartness of his character.

GREEN BOOK won the Toronto International Film Festival’s most coveted prize of the People’s Audience Choice Award.  Last year’s winner THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI also won the Best Picture Oscar.  GREEN BOOK hopes and deserves the same honours.  GREEN BOOK is not a good film but a great film.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkZxoko_HC0

DADDY’S HOME 2 (USA 2017)

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Daddy's Home 2 Poster
Trailer

Brad and Dusty must deal with their intrusive fathers during the holidays.

Director:

Sean Anders

Writers:

Sean AndersBrian Burns (characters)

 

One can tell that there is something wrong with a movie when the movie within a movie turns out to be more interesting than the movie itself.  In DADDY’S HOME 2, the families end up at one point stranded at a suburban cinema where a fake movie MISSILE TOW starring Liam Neeson is playing.  Neeson pays a character (voice only heard) that rescues his family from terrorists at all costs.  That fake film is heard for only a minute or two before director Anders turns the audience back to his nightmare Christmas movie – DADDY’S HOME 2

Moviegoers must have been very naughty during 2017 as Santa has rewarded them already with two awfully bad Christmas comedies – A BAD MOM’ S CHRISTMAS and now DADDY’S HOME 2.  DADDY’S HOME numero uno arrived on Christmas Day 2015 and went on to gross a remarkable $150 million domestically.  Thus arrives number 2 with Paramount hoping to do well again at the box-office.

The first film dealt with step-dad Brad (Will Ferrell) having to deal with his wife’s kids’ real father Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) showing up to undo all the values that Brad had instilled in his family.  HOME 2 ups the angst with the arrival of the dads’ dads in the form of Mel Gibson and John Lithgow.  Gibson has had quite the bad press and has been successful behind the camera (HACKSAW RIDGE, PASSION OF THE CHRIST) than in front of it.  Surprisingly, he is the funniest and best of the cast in the film, playing against his true character in life – a macho, gun-totting anti-feminist old goat.

Like all Christmas comedies, the usual disastrous set ups are there – the setting up of the electrical house decorations that go wrong (at least this one is quite elaborately done); the Christmas tree shopping; the snowball fight (not funny at all); the Christmas dinner; the feel good sentiment (it is only the children that count); the breaking of a hard heart (John Cena’s as the biological father of Dusty’s kid).  The worst of all is the film’s climax, which must rank as the corniest set-up of all time that takes place in a cinema theatre during a blackout.  There is a shameless promotion of the good of going to the movies where audiences are encouraged to turn to the next person to greet them.  

A few non Christmas setups are included – the most notable being the bowling segment where one son has the problem of throwing his bowling ball into the gutter.  It is a rather simple setup that turns out to generate only a few laughs, if any pity laughs.  The predictable shoplifting gag does not work either nor the revelation of the notes that Dusty’s girlfriend takes of Brad’s wife that turn out to be good ones.

DADDY’S HOME 2 might work for the undemanding moviegoer.  There were people applauding at he end of the film, but critics can only shrug at this early Christmas enterprise.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8shgJX14HQ

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Film Review: THE FOUNDER (USA 2016) ***

the_founder_movie_poster.jpgDirector: John Lee Hancock
Writer: Robert D. Siegel
Stars: Linda Cardellini, Nick Offerman, Michael Keaton

 THE FOUNDER an American biographical drama that tells the story of of Ray Kroc, the self-claimed founder of McDonald’s. Whether he is the true founder or not, it is up to the audience to decide, but the film written by Robert Siegel and directed by John Lee Hanccock tries to reveal the real story, warts and all.

Just as THE FOUNDER could serve as an educational film on business success strategies, it could also be a classroom model for ethical practices.

The film follows the trail of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), a salesman for milkshake mixers to restaurants – indeed a hard sell. After receiving word that a small diner is ordering an unusually large number of milkshake makers from his company, Ray decides to go visit the enterprise in question. What he finds is a highly popular diner by the name of McDonald’s. Ray is immediately struck by the fast service, the high-quality food, the novelty of disposable packaging (versus cutlery) and the family-focused customers who regularly consume the food.

Ray meets with the two brothers who own and operate the diner. Maurice “Mac” McDonald (John Carroll Lynch) is elder and more simple-minded but extremely hard-working. Richard “Dick” McDonald (Nick Offerman) is younger and known for being an ideas man. Ray is given a tour of the kitchens and immediately is struck by the strong work ethic displayed by From them, Kroc acquires the fast food chain, growing it to a full state business to much more. His marriage to Ethel Fleming (Laura Dern) eventually lands in divorce with him marrying one of his franchise owners.

The film takes its time to get the audience on the side of Ray Kroc. Ray is depicted as a hard-working salesman with initially good honest practices with solid family values like caring for his loving wife. As greed gains control over Ray with the McDonalds empire expanding, Ray resorts to unethical tactics to take control over the two brothers. His marriage ends as well though the details are not shown on screen. He learns more about the dirt in the business and in his own words, he would drown a competitor by sticking a hose up his mouth. So, director Hancock slowly shifts sides as Ray’s good side eventually erodes when he finally cheats the brothers out of their agreed 1% stake in the business.

Michael delivers another outstanding performance as Ray Kroc, a man that the audience can both admire and despise. Patrick Wilson is largely wasted in a small role as the husband of the girl Ray stole to be his second wife. Offerman and Lynch play the brothers perfectly.

If Ray was depicted totally as a scheming unethical cheat, the film would turn away both its audience and McDonald’s customers. McDonald’s has become an American icon and Hancock is smart enough to treat the material as well as the character of Ray Kroc with respect. Besides Kroc has also demonstrated that the American dream can be achieved from pure persistence.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX2uz2XYkbo

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Happy Birthday: Linda Cardellini

lindacardellini.jpgHappy Birthday actor Linda Cardellini

Born: June 25, 1975 in Redwood City, California, USA

 

 

 

 

 

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