I care nothing for the Oscars in any meaningful way, but I do love to watch the ceremony and listen to the chatter that comes from the various entertainment writers I follow. There is always at least one long-shot movie that my critic friends champion and another front-runner that they hate. This year there were two hated films - Bohemian Rhapsody and Green Book. It was the latter that received the most scorn. Not so much because it is a bad movie as most critics seem to agree it is a decent film, but because of its treatment of race and its perceived abuse of the real-life person at the heart of its story.
Green Book stars Mahershala Ali as Don Shirley, an African American jazz pianist, who hires a white driver/bodyguard (Viggo Mortensen) to take him on a tour of the Deep South. It's a modern Driving Miss Daisy where the story of a black man is told through the eyes of a “white savior”. Apparently the story is so far from the truth, they had to wait until the real Shirley died before telling it.
I have not seen the movie nor have I studied up on its controversies. I simply read about them on Twitter as I was watching the Oscars. I don’t know enough to judge them, and I’m not here to refute them. They certainly sound concerning.
Yet here I am making Green Book this week’s pick. Everyone, including the opposing critics, say that the performances, especially Ali’s, is quite good and deserved or not, it did come home with the Best Picture Oscar and for that alone I’m interested in seeing it.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
The Magic Flute (Criterion Collection): Ingmar Bergman takes on Mozart’s beloved opera in this Criterion release.
Mortal Engines: Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the popular book about cities on wheels was critically lacerated and bombed at the box office.
Kolobos: Terrible '90s slasher mixes reality TV with locked-room horror. From Arrow Video. You can read my full review here.
The Craft: I can’t imagine this holds up well, but I was in love with Fairuza Bulk after watching this teenage witch flick back in the 1990s. David Wangberg has our review.
The Prisoner: A mostly forgotten drama starring Alec Guinness as a Cardinal put on trial by a communist government who needs him to confess in order to destroy the Catholic Church. You can read my review here.
The Kid Brother (Criterion Collection): Harold Lloyd stars in this comedy western classic.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: I was pleasantly surprised by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but this sequel was an utterly uninspired mess. David Wangberg has our review.