Green Book

November 30, 2018 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Mahershala Ali, Viggo Mortensen, Linda Cardellini
Directed by: Peter Farrelly (“There’s Something About Mary”)
Written by: Peter Farrelly (“Hall Pass”), Brian Hayes Currie (“Two Tickets to Paradise”) and Nick Vallelonga (“Choker”)

When filmmakers step out of their comfort zones, things can sometimes get interesting. This year, we saw gore hound Eli Roth (“Hostel”) craft a spooky, yet kid-friendly flick, with “The House with a Clock in Its Walls.” We also got another chapter from the “Halloween” horror franchise, this time from the perspective of drama/comedy director David Gordon Green (“Stronger”). Now, Peter Farrelly — one half of the directing duo known as the Farrelly brothers (“Dumb and Dumber,” “There’s Something About Mary”) — splits from his sibling for the first time and ventures out on his own to make “Green Book,” a charming, crowd-pleasing dramedy that, unfortunately, pulls its punches on race relations.

Set in New York City in 1962, “Green Book” tells the true story of two men who couldn’t be more different from one another — Dr. Don Shirley (Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali), a sophisticated Jamaican-American classical pianist, and Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Academy Award-nominee Viggo Mortensen), a working-class nightclub bouncer with a gift for gab.

The men find themselves on the road together when Don hires Tony to be his driver and security during a two-month-long concert tour through the Deep South. This, of course, was during the Jim Crow era when laws mandated racial segregation. The film’s title refers to the “Negro Motorist Green Book,” a travel guide blacks could refer to so they could know which establishments (restaurants, hotels, etc.) were considered African-American-friendly. With Tony’s “innate ability to handle trouble,” they embark on a trip that ends with both of them learning about tolerance and true friendship.

Its messaging on race, however, is a little trickier. “Green Book” is serious when it needs to be, but there’s also humor at its heart. Recent films like “The Help” and “Hidden Figures” have also taken a more lighthearted approach to the painful subject of racism, and there’s no denying that it’s a tough balancing act that filmmakers need to be mindful of so they don’t appear flippant on the issue.

“Green Book”’s intention isn’t to preach or hammer a message home with harrowing images or depictions of ultra-realistic bigotry. If audiences are looking for something like that, they should go stream “Mississippi Burning” or “American History X.” Instead, “Green Book” is focused on the dynamic between Don and Tony and how they maneuver beyond their own personal biases to respect each other.

No one ever said racism in this country doesn’t exist anymore because Barack Obama was twice elected President, and no one is saying anything similar because “Green Book,” with all its mainstream appeal and handful of hokey clichés, is an enjoyable picture. Farrelly didn’t produce a flawless film, but he hit an appropriately inspirational and life-affirming theme and tone with ease.

Ep. 96 – Get Out, our Oscar picks, and Moonlight hits home video

February 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Podcast

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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review the new horror/comedy from Jordan Peele, “Get Out.” They also hand out their Oscar picks, and take look at “Moonlight” as it hits home release on Tuesday.

[00:00-17:45] Intro/inside podcast talk

[17:45-41:29] Oscar picks

[41:29-52:51] Review: “Get Out”

[52:51-1:04:50] No Ticket Required: “Moonlight”

[1:04:50-1:15:46] Wrap up/tease
Click here to download the episode!

Moonlight

November 11, 2016 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Trevante Rhodes, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali
Directed by: Barry Jenkins (“Medicine for Melancholy”)
Written by: Barry Jenkins (“Medicine for Melancholy”)

Hollywood is only less than a year removed from the industry’s controversial #OscarsSoWhite debate. Now that we’re actually in Oscar season again, it’ll be interesting to see if this year’s buzz-worthy bait will include anything that could constitute a “black film” and how those projects will go over with audiences and critics alike.

The race to the top starts with “Moonlight” (“The Birth of a Nation” was a pretender), a beautifully-made drama that spans the life of one character from childhood to adulthood in a moving and heartbreaking way.

Following the life Chiron (played by three different actors in three chapters: Alex Hibbert as a kid, Ashton Sanders as a teenager and Trevante Rhodes as an adult), a gay African American, the film’s main messages of sexual identity, self-discovery and loneliness start strong and never let up as we watch the character battle himself and others over who he is and what he wants to make of his life.

The film starts with Chiron, nicknamed “Little,” as a quiet kid getting picked on by other boys in his neighborhood because of his small stature and pure nature. Little’s drug-addicted mother Paula (a wonderful Naomie Harris), is an emotional wreck and irresponsible for her child. When good-hearted local drug dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali) and his wife Teresa (Janelle Monáe) step in to play parental roles in Little’s life, the boy find some stability although not much.

As we watch Little grow into a teenager and face more harsh treatment from his mother and peers, his strength begins to show when he realizes he is attracted to one of his male friends at school. The recognition during these scenes in the film are genuine, which makes them all the more damaging when Chiron’s becomes devastated by an incident that puts him on a path he never thought he would take.

Adapted from Tarell McCraney’s play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” the direction and script of “Moonlight” by Barry Jenkins (“Medicine for Melancholy”) is an illuminating way to tell a story. Like 2014’s “Boyhood,” “Moonlight” gives audiences an opportunity to see this drama unfold on a broad scope and become invested in the main character and the issues he is experiencing. In “Moonlight,” however, the stake are at another level, which builds tension throughout the film in some surreal ways.

All three actors who portray Chiron bring a unique innocence to the character that is palpable. With Jenkins leading them all through this lyrical narrative, and some incredible cinematography by James Laxton (“Camp X-Ray”), “Moonlight” breaks away from most coming-of-age molds and makes itself distinctly compassionate and boundless—just like Chiron.