Green Book

Surprisingly good – two fantastic actors (Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali) make the most out of an unspectacular screenplay about a working-class Italian driving a black piano player on a two-month concert tour through the Deep South in 1962.   The relationship started out about as rocky as you might expect, but over time a friendship developed that lasted 50 years (both men died in 2013).  One of the screenwriters is the son of the driver and has wanted to make this movie for a long time, conducting extended interviews with both men before they died.  The film presents the everyday humiliations for black men living under Jim Crow in a matter-of-fact manner, and  doesn’t shy away from the more genteel forms of racism up north either.  It helps a lot that the director is best known for comedy (Something about Mary) – he handles some very difficult situations with a light touch, avoiding preachiness.  As usual with this kind of “based on a true story” movie, the most unbelievable stuff is actually true — Tony actually did eat whole pizzas by folding them in the middle and just digging in.

Movie trivia — except for a few exterior shots, virtually the whole movie was shot in Louisiana, including the “Bronx.”  The snow was real though, sparing the director the planned expense of shooting in Minnesota.

Consistently entertaining and worth your time.

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