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March 02, 2019

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Jesse Crall

I think a big split in the GREEN BOOK response is generational as opposed to strictly racial (hence Belafonte, John Lewis & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar supporting it while middle-aged and younger critics, black & white, seem to look at it with more skepticism or scorn). Which isn't to be discounted; there's value in black people who lived through that time discussing why it worked on them or why it's important to the discourse and lord knows, younger cultural commentators have been known to ignore history at their own rhetorical peril. But it's just not a very good film on a purely craft level and trying to bring political resonance into it is like searching for meaning in a Thomas Kincaid painting. BLACKKKLANSMAN was just a helluva better as a story, as a work of art and as a commentary on race relations past and present. GREEN BOOK only would have worked if it was 80% smarter or 20% dumber.

And yeah, "Belafonte's been wrong before" can't be ignored. Black people don't think in lockstep. One person's praise or dismissals can't possibly begin to speak for everyone.

titch

Well, Rex Reed loved it.

Andrew Del Monte

Haven't seen Green Book, it looked like an outdated joke from the first trailer and like everyone I'm surprised/not surprised it won Best Picture. I am glad/disappointed that Mahershala Ali has become only the second black actor after Denzel to win 2 Oscars for acting (and I believe only the fourth black person period to win 2).

There is an aspect about Green Book which I haven't noticed people discuss and which I'd like to mention: Mortensen is 60, the character he plays was 32 at the time of the story. Ali is 45, Don Shirley was 35 in 1962. Whereas in real life Shirley was slightly older and both were young men, in the film Lip is the older man by many years. I think this is significant because casting Lip as the much older man gives the "magical white man" some stature over the black man; Lip's credibility during the scenes where he "teaches" Shirley is increased by the years he has on Shirley. Imagine, if Lip was played by an actor closer to Lip's age and appearance (say, comedian Jon Gabrus), and, importantly, younger than Ali, how much harder it would be to take Lip seriously when he's lecturing Shirley. Could this have been on the filmmaker's minds when they were casting? What were their intentions in changing the ages of the characters so drastically? Anyway, just a thought.

George

"Over and over I’ve seen white folks who otherwise hold all sorts of interesting opinions about black folks call Green Book a “feel good” movie. Yes. Sure. You feel good. About yourself."

Bravo.

Why is it that almost every movie about race in America is set in the South during the civil rights era of the '50s and '60s? I guess this is because there were (supposedly) obvious heroes and villains in that time. And because that fight has (supposedly) been won, with the good guys winning.

Of course, this helps white people feel better about themselves. It conveys the impression that racism happened a long time ago, and in only one part of the country. A white person watching these movies thinks, "Hey, I'M nothing like those foaming-at-the-mouth rednecks!"

Movies about race set outside the South, and in more recent times -- like Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" or "Black Klansman" -- tend to make white viewers VERY uncomfortable. Which is intentional. No wonder they don't get Oscars for best picture.

George

Maybe I'm touchy about this, having grown up in the South. But I've heard people from the Northeast, the Midwest and California say, with a straight face, that racism does not and never has existed in their states.

Of course, the people who say this are all white.

Tom B.

A movie about Chicago's white flight in the 1960s would be instructive. It's one of the places where King didn't have much success. Such a movie probably wouldn't get many Oscar nods.

George

From Late Night with Seth Myers: "White Savior: The Movie Trailer"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_RTnuJvg6U

Next year's best picture winner, no doubt!

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