All the spoilers all the time. You have been warned!
My Thoughts While Watching:
I had never heard of a “Green Book” until this movie. Reading about it will further enrage you because it’s necessity is a stain on US history. I ordered further reading on the book because I need to understand it more. I also knew nothing of Dr Shirley. I now have a playlist dedicated to him and it gives my ears joy.
There was controversy when Viggo used the “n” word in a Q&A. It has been called a “White Savior” movie. Dr Shirley’s family protested the movie, saying there was no friendship between the two. A recorded interview with Dr Shirley would state otherwise. The movie has been seen negatively on different levels.
I liked the movie in that it shows a man, set in his racist ways, could be reformed. I may be immature in my views but I really thought that Dr Shirley was the one saving Tony Lip, that redemption was possible.
I don’t think it will win because of the controversies that have come up after it was nominated. I also would not chose this movie as my personal pick.
Have you seen it? What are your thoughts?
Some Interviews and Extra Video:
IMDB Synopsis: A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.
|Viggo Mortensen||…||Tony Lip|
|Mahershala Ali||…||Dr. Don Shirley|
|Sebastian Maniscalco||…||Johnny Venere|
|Dimiter D. Marinov||…||Oleg|
Director: Peter Farrelly
My ranking scores –
0-19 Levels of: Ugh
20-39 Levels of: Meh (aka I cannot reach the remote)
40-59 Levels of: I don’t hate it?
60-85 Levels of: That was solid.
86-100 Levels of: I Loved It!
I rank this movie a 88.74!
Additional Movie Info:
It received a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 80% Fresh. It received a Rotten Tomato audience rating of 94% liking it. Average Rating: 4.4/5 with a number of User Ratings: 5,258.
Specs: Release date: 1 November 2018 (USA) / Runtime: 130 minutes / Budget: $23M
- Upon the film’s release, the Shirley family objected to the truthfulness of the film, claiming that Tony and Doc were not friends; that theirs “was an employer-employee relationship,” In January, 2019, audio recordings of an interview with Don Shirley emerged, in which he stated, “I trusted him implicitly… You see… not only was [Tony] my driver, we never had an employer/employee relationship. You don’t have time for that bullshit. My life is in this man’s hands!… So you’ve got to be friendly with one another.”
- Prior to filming, Viggo Mortensen was invited to meet Nick Vallelonga‘s family over a six-hour dinner. He said, “It almost destroyed me because I hadn’t gained the weight yet – I hadn’t expanded my stomach… It was almost lethal…” When the family assumed he was declining more helpings was because he didn’t like the food, he felt compelled to finish his plate. But every time he finished a plate, they brought another one. “I said goodbye. We did a picture together. I limped to my rental car and I made a big show of ‘oh, I’m driving back to Manhattan!’ And I drove around the corner, parked the car, leaned my seat back, undid my belt and lay there for an hour, just groaning.”
- he piano piece with which Doc wows the crowd at the bar is Frédéric Chopin‘s Etude Op. 25 No. 11 “Winter Wind”. It is considered one of the most difficult pieces to play, earning a 9 (highest) rating on the Henle Levels of Difficulty scale.
- The friendship between Don Shirley and Tony Lip lasted more than 50 years. After the initial two-month trip, the duo ended up on a tour of about a year. The musician then asked Tony Lip to become his driver and bodyguard during his European tour, but he refused because he did not want to be separated from his family any longer. Both men died in 2013, 3 months apart. For Nick Vallelonga, Don Shirley was a friend of the family.
- The title and subject matter are a reference to “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” also known as “The Negro Travelers’ Green Book.” Published from 1936-1966, the guide helped African-American travelers find lodging, restaurants, and other businesses that would serve them. It eventually covered most of North America, plus Bermuda and the Caribbean.
- The real Tony Lip is best known for playing Carmine Lupertazzi on The Sopranos and has had roles in several Martin Scorsese movies.
- In the Vallelonga family scenes, Tony and Dolores’ real family members play most of the relatives.
- Mahershala Ali responded with an apology to Shirley’s nephew, Edwin Shirley III, saying that “I did the best I could with the material I had” and that he was not aware that there were “close relatives with whom I could have consulted to add some nuance to the character.” Writer-director Peter Farrelly said he was under the impression there “weren’t a lot of family members” still alive, that they did not take major liberties with the story, and that relatives he was aware of had been invited to a private screening for friends and family. Jazz artist Quincy Jones said to a crowd after a screening: “I had the pleasure of being acquainted with Don Shirley while I was working as an arranger in New York in the ’50s, and he was without question one of America’s greatest pianists … as skilled a musician as Leonard Bernstein or Van Cliburn … So it is wonderful that his story is finally being told and celebrated. Mahershala, you did an absolutely fantastic job playing him, and I think yours and Viggo’s performances will go down as one of the great friendships captured on film.” On January 14, 2019, NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar published a piece in The Hollywood Reporter defending Green Book despite its alleged historical inaccuracies. Abdul-Jabbar argued that “(w)hile such discrepancies (about the historicity of some of the depicted events) may irk family members, they don’t really matter because those plot details are about getting to a greater truth than whatever the mundane facts are.”
- Tony Lip did actually punch the police officer and consequently end up in jail with Dr. Shirley, however in real life, the incident happened a year later, in the fall of 1963. This was during a separate road trip that occurred after the Christmas break featured at the end of the film. Shirley did call then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who helped get them out of jail; the call being made only a few days before Kennedy’s brother, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated.
- Composer and pianist Kris Bowers doubles for Mahershala Ali and plays the on-screen pieces of Don Shirley in the film. A musician since he was four, Bowers has been composing film music for some time, though Green Book is his first major studio production. Like Shirley, Bowers plays exclusively on Steinway pianos, all made by hand, because “they project the sound like no other instrument”.
- On November 7, 2018, during a promotional panel discussion, Mortensen said the word “nigger”. He prefaced the sentence with, “I don’t like saying this word”, and went on to compare dialogue “that’s no longer common in conversation” to the period in which the film is set. Mortensen apologized the next day, saying that “my intention was to speak strongly against racism” and that he was “very sorry that I did use the full word last night, and will not utter it again.”
- o prepare to play Don Shirley, Mahershala Ali worked with the film’s composer, Kris Bowers. The absence of archive footage of Don Shirley, however, made his work difficult. Nevertheless, he managed to glean some information from Nick Vallelonga and Brian Currie, as well as a documentary about Carnegie Hall, a New York concert hall above which Shirley lived in a loft with sixty other artists.