Monday, 10 Dec 2018
Entertainment

How 'Green Book' Became This Year's Polarizing Awards Contender

Soon after we meet Tony Vallelonga in "Green Book," the Italian American man tosses out a pair of water glasses because black repairmen drank out of them. His wife fishes them out of the trash can. But by the end of the movie, which follows Tony as he drives acclaimed jazz pianist Dr. Don Shirley through the Jim Crow South for a two-month concert tour, Tony is the one inviting the black man into his home.

This should not be much of a spoiler. "Green Book," based on a true story and co-written by Tony's son, Nick, played by Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, overcoming their differences and forming an unlikely friendship. the early 1960s. Tony is poor, and is prejudiced at first, Shirley is wealthy, uptight and wise. – Tony teaches Shirley how to let loose, and teaches how to accept "black music" of the era, and Shirley teaches how to accept those who are not like him.

The film, a comic book, has racked up accolades: It won the Toronto International Film Festival's audience award, was named best picture by the National Board of Review, on Tuesday, landed on the American Film Institute's Top 10 list.

Purpose "Green Book" has also received its fair share of backlash. This morning, the morning of the morning, with the Golden Globe nominations, and its broader legacy will be.

Some critics, like Monique Judge at the Root, feel that the movie "spoon-feeds racism to white people." Others, like Candice Frederick writing for Slashfilm, claim it whitewashes a black experience by using the historic Negro Motorist Green Book, which existed to help black people protect themselves while traveling in the South, as a "mother prop." In Vulture, Mark Harris concludes that the movie's poor box-office performance could be a sign that "after 50 years, a particular kind of movie about black and white America has long last run its course. "

To support her argument, Judge points to a part of "Green Book" in which Tony and Shirley visit. Tony, who does most of the talking in the movie, asks about it, and the clerk happily cooperates until he realizes that Shirley is the one who wants to try it on. Visibly repulsed by the idea, the clerk then asks.

The racism seen in the movie is that of a contemporary person and continues to experience, Judge argues. It does not matter, but not frighten, white audiences.

Frederick brings this scene up to a recent interview with The Washington Post and said that, when she first saw the movie, she was surprised by the gasps and shocked responses to this scene.

"I think people have gotten comfortable with the idea that we are in a post-racial society where things do not happen," she said. "I'll say it was shocked – 'us' meaning the other black audience members."

This response is similar to what is "The Help," Frederick said, referring to the 2011 period. Viola Davis earned an Oscar nomination for her role as maid Aibileen Clark in the movie but told the New York Times this year that she regrets accepting it because she felt "at the end of the day it was not the voices of the maids that were heard. "

"Green Book" shares this issue of "usurping the voice of the black protagonist in favor of the white protagonist," according to Frederick. She praised the performances of both Ali and Mortensen – an Oscar winning and two-time nominee with undeniable on-screen chemistry – but said the trainer was "sidelined by the larger agenda" of favoring the white character's emotional journey and humanity.


Viggo Mortensen and Ali Mahershala in "Green Book." (Universal Pictures via AP)

Frederick's distaste for the overall movie, but not all. Aramide Tinubu, who reviewed "Green Book" for Shadow and Act, told The Post that she found it "I'm not considering Tony's story to be a redemption arc – while he and Shirley do become friends, it is obvious that Tony never fully understands what life is like for the pianist.

"It was a mirror to white Americans, even today," Tinubu said. "I saw you, you have all this privilege and you choose to act this poorly."

Shirley's brother, Maurice, released a statement accusing "Green Book" of inaccurately depicting the pianist's story and saying it was already made. (Shirley says in the movie that he has fallen out of touch with his brother, which the real-life Maurice denies.) Tinubu found this troubling – "maybe the director did not do his due diligence" – goal clarified that she doesn ' Tony, or one that erases Shirley in any way.

Ali, for his part, has defended "Green Book" against claims that it is a "white savior" movie or a "reverse" Miss Daisy Driving. "

"It's approached in a way that is more palatable than some of those other projects. But I think it's a legitimate offering, "he told the Associated Press. "Don Shirley is really complex considering it's 1962. He's the one in power in that car. Do not let it go on that trip … Anytime, whether it's white or black writers, I can play with character, that's attractive to me. "

Variety's chief film critic, Owen Gleiberman, also pointed to Shirley and the story's depth of reason "Green Book" should be given a chance. It is not a white-savior movie because "the two characters save one another" in a recent article. "It's not going to make a big statement about race for the idea that white people and black people, to the extent that their backgrounds and experiences separate them, should try to understand each other better."

It's the way in which the story is told that it comes out of, of course, not the story itself. But theatergoers seem to agree with Gleiberman. He notes that "Green Book" has an A + on CinemaScore, a market research firm that rates watching experiences based on audience polls. After the Toronto festival, the movie won another audience award at Virginia's Middleburg Film Festival in mid-October.

While festival director Susan Koch admitted that Middleburg's filmgoers tend to be more likely to be more diverse than at other festivals. Middleburg had to host a second screening after the first sold out.

"It was the clear winner for the best narrative film," she added. "It's a very divisive time now, that we're living in. A film that is really coming together and breaking down stereotypes and the way we have been so much appreciated. "

For this reason, "Green Book" seems likely to win over the season, which also happens to be dominated by voting bodies that skew older and white. Chris Beachum, managing editor of the award-predicting Gold Derby website, told The Post at his October awards screening, the movie got more laughter than anything. Golden Globe Voters he has also been invited to the movie.

Pete Hammond, Deadline's chief film critic and awards columnist, added that the Toronto honor is a "very Oscar-predictive award" and that last year, the nominees had also placed on AFI's Top 10 list. The warmth and message of "Green Book" are why it might be "In the Heat of the Night," "Driving Miss Daisy," "The Blind Side," "The Help" or "Hidden Figures" did, he continued.

And that's exactly why Frederick is not interested in what "Green Book" might win. Some of those movies, while addressing race relations, represent a "long history of hiding the black protagonist in favor of the more palatable, more recognizable white protagonist," she said, and outcry against the rarely tainted chances awards. Why would that change now?

"I do not think a lot of us who are bemoaning the way in which [“Green Book”] They are being dissuaded, "Frederick said. "It's more … why are movies like this presenting at all?"

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