Summary: 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.
This will be a short review.
I know there was a lot of controversy surrounding this film and I’m not going to speak to that, other than things I noticed about the film in general, but I will also not talk about historical inaccuracies because I don’t know other than what I have read due to the drama surrounding this.
Two Leads. There are characters we meet throughout the movie, including Linda Cardelini who plays Tony’s wife but they’re minor characters, so I thought it was best to just focus on the two leads. I don’t agree with Mahershala Ali being nominated for the Supporting Role because his role was just as large, is it because Tony’s son helped write the script?? lol I’m just saying.
Viggo Mortensen as Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga. Tony is a bouncer at the Copacabana nightclub, it gets closed for renovations, so he gets invited to interview for a driver position for an eight-week concert tour. He’s against it at first because when he hears all that Don needs from him, he’s like nah. But eventually, he ends up doing it. Tony is unpolished and a little rough around the edges, which is the exact opposite of Don. So, they do clash at times because of that. Tony is a pleasant guy and he often means well. Throughout the movie, we have moments where Tony and Don must lean on each other for various reasons, such as the letters and then the times where Tony must go off and save Don… and those moments are coupled with great acting from Viggo Mortensen. The man is a chameleon and he portray the New Jersey Italian great lol at least from my limited knowledge from media lol.
Mahershala Ali as Don Shirley. He is an eccentric pianist who is looking for a driver for his eight-week concert tour through the Midwest and Deep South. He hires Tony because of his references and after speaking with his wife. Don is very straight laced and very particular. When he first gets into the car, his butler puts a blanket over his legs lol, he doesn’t like littering, he’s very commanding which Ali acts all of Don’s quirks wonderfully. I’ve seen him play many roles and this is the first time I’ve see him really play a straight-laced person and boy he gets me every time. He’s so charismatic with such a commanding presence that any time he speaks, you listen to him. Don obviously must go through a lot in this movie being that it’s set in the 60’s, which is to be expected. Sometimes he handles it well and sometimes he doesn’t. Mahershala Ali is great!
The Beautiful Music! I love classical music and I do enjoy Jazz and Don gets to perform both of those in different parts of the movie and it’s amazing and beautiful. It takes a back seat sometimes compared to the racism stuff and the other dramatic moments, but this movie does have those moments where it’s like “Dang, is Mahershala really playing?” lol. But I have to say the choices of background music, whether the characters are listening to it in the car, or it’s musical score, or whatever Don is playing, it really sets a nice atmosphere.
The Friendship Between Don and Tony. As I said in the character section both actors are SO GOOD. If you don’t want to see this movie for anything else, the chemistry and friendship between these two is so good. There are some weird moments, like when Tony is basically telling Don “how to be black” and it can get a little weird and awkward, but a lot of their other interactions are charming and emotional. Whenever Don is helping Tony write letters to his wife, those are gold. They have a great scene outside, I think it’s snowing, great moment. I don’t particularly care for the dialogue, but the moment is well acted.
The Green Book. This is a minor thing, but the movie is called “Green Book” but it’s such a non-thing. We see the Green Book maybe two or three times. We see it when it’s first given to Tony. We don’t really see it again until later, and then we see it one more time when Tony looks at it in the car. I think it should have been a much more involved plot point because the book is the guide for African-American travelers to find motels, restaurants, and filling stations that would serve them, but they never use it seriously! I mean come on!
White Savior. So, this is part of the controversy surrounding this movie and honestly, it really does come off that way. Who knows if that was the intention or not but it’s really kind of glaring. I thought it was odd how they went out of their way to show us Don’s house and its basically Africa in there, not to mention, his “uppity” mindset, the man has a throne in his house. Then literally every situation Don gets into, Tony must come and rescue him. This happens a lot. Then there’s all those times when Tony is teaching Don about black people, because you know, all black people love fried chicken and Little Richard. Sure, sure, you can argue that it just shows that Tony is also a bit racist but still. It’s just really weird how they go about that. Plus, there’s this other scene in a bathroom that also has a weird undertone and not because of the moment but because of it was included at all? I don’t know lol. I mean, it’s like they put Don into situations just so Tony can be the savior… I don’t know if that’s how it happened in real life, but it doesn’t sit well.
Ghosts Over the Issues. Obviously with this movie being set in the 60’s there’s a ton that’s going to happen here. My problem is that it brings up those moments but don’t quite make it in understanding them through the lens of the character it’s happening to. You can argue that as the movie is clearly about Tony, and he doesn’t understand completely so that might be the problem, but I don’t think that’s an excuse. There’s a good scene that’s wonderfully acted by Ali, but the things he’s saying is stuff we hadn’t seen. He talks about not being good enough for white people except when he’s playing for them, but he’s also not accepted by black people because he’s not like them. That would have been a great moment if we ever saw that. We maybe see that one time when he’s invited to play horse shoes and declines. That wasn’t because he “wasn’t like them” they were like “man forget you!” because he didn’t want to play! That doesn’t equate! If you’re going to have a character say something like that, then give us reasons to understand WHY HE’D SAY THAT! Not to mention, Don knows he’s in the South and that he shouldn’t go off on his own, why does he keep doing it then? He’s a smart guy. I just didn’t understand that either.
Overall, I think Green Book is a good and well-made movie. The best thing it has to offer are the performances from Mortensen and Ali. They are fantastic and they play to each other’s strengths very well. Their characters are very different which allows for lots of time of learning and understanding each other and growing to trust and care for the other. All that stuff is great and probably what you should watch the movie for. The music included is beautiful, Don mostly plays a lot of Jazz and he explains why, but we also get some classical and some other types of music. It’s amazing, music feeds the soul. There are charming moments between the two for their friendship as well. Now, obviously there is of course the other stuff, like how the movie is named after something that should have been more integral than it was in the film and that’s lame. Or how it has lots of “white savior” vibes, especially in places where the scripts make Don go off and do stupid things when he is clearly an intelligent man. It doesn’t make sense or add up and I did not like that. I won’t go into it further but it’s a movie I’d recommend watching if you’re a fan of either Viggo Mortensen or Mahershala Ali, which I am of both actors, so take that for what it’s worth.
Rating: 3.69 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Green Book? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!
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Summary: A deactivated cyborg is revived but cannot remember anything of her past life and goes on a quest to find out who she is.
This will be a short review.
The Acting/Potentially Interesting Characters. This section is very different than how I normally do it but I couldn’t quite just say “cast and characters” because while I thought the acting was good for the most part, I wasn’t all that invested in most of these characters.
Rosa Salazar as “Ali” Alita / 99 and she’s cute. It’s clear she loves the character and the source material, especially after watching interviews, but Alita definitely starts out with that “fish out of water” thing because this world is new to her. As the film continues, her confidence grows and she starts to put things in motion on her own, or at least things get set into motion that requires her to make some choices. I think Alita is likable and like Rosa Salazar’s energy as Alita.
Christoph Waltz as Dr. Dyson Ido. Definitely one of the best actors in the film. He’s a cyborg scientist, Alita’s father figure and other secrets. His character has a lot of techno babble in places, and he spends most of the movie worrying over Alita, making sure she’s safe, because she’s special and all that. He gets to have some cool moments and there are cool revelations but his character doesn’t get that much to do honestly.
Mahershala Ali as Vector. He’s a great actor and I thought he was wasted for the most part. He has some really good moments; I like when he switches personalities and even his line delivery when he pops up with those blue eyes. I actually just wish he was the main main villain anyway. I’ll always like him though lol.
Ed Skrein as Zapan. He gets introduced early but we don’t meet him until halfway through. He’s arrogant, wields a sword and a bounty hunter. He tries to sweet talk Alita, when she joined the Hunter-Warriors because I mean she’s cool but then he spends the rest of the movie, angry. Ed Skrein clearly had fun in this role, he’s very dynamic to watch when he’s on screen. He has this really annoying charm and I’m like “UGH, I hate your character but you’re just so good” lol. That works for him lol.
Special Effects. One of the best things about this movie is how the action sequences and how the world looks. It’s set in the future and so technology and machines have become even more integrated into the world. There are cyborgs, machines that police the streets and tons of other things. It’s cool. I think all of the cyborgs we see, no matter how intense their cybernetic look is, they look mostly real. There are times when it’s just too odd and they look like disembodied heads, which I guess that’s how it is lol, but for the most part it’s good. Plus, how Alita moves, and her body, especially when she gets her fancy body is very realized from the manga the film is adapted from.
Great Action Sequences. The action sequences in this film are really good. They’re choreographed really well and I bet it as amazing on the big screen. There are a couple of scenes that stand out in general. The entire sequence that starts from the bar. I don’t want to say how it ends because it’s a spoiler lol but that was probably the best choreographed and edited fight. I was really into that. Also, the sequence afterthe motor ball at the end was also really cool too. Being that Alita’s history is in fighting and what not, so seeing her fully embrace that is pretty dope.
Really Long. Y’all this movie is 122 minutes, which is 2 hours and some change, barely, but it felt so much longer than that. I thought it ended like two times and when it kept going, I was like “oh there’s more… okay.” You can argue they might have been gearing up for a sequel and sure, I’d see it but it just crammed so much into the film and then it feels like nothing happened in the end. I’m just so confused by it. There is so much we get told and then stuff happens, and then more talking and it goes like that for a while. I honestly checked out a few times. I don’t mind long movies, but don’t be long for the sake of being long. This is why, I feel like this would be a good live action television show, along the lines of Dark Angel.
Not Enough Interesting Characters. Outside of the fact that I like some of the actors in the movie, I didn’t find many of the characters that interesting. Alita is cool and everything but there wasn’t much about her that made me really like her. Then her love interest Hugo, I really didn’t care about him either. I didn’t quite like the actor all that much but he didn’t have a ton to work with I thought. Not to mention, Dr. Ido and then Dr. Chiren, I mean there’s a lot of potentially interesting characters but I don’t think the movie succeeded in making me care about them at all.
The Motorball Stuff. Other than the fact that it’s cool, there’s no reason for this stuff to be in the film because every time we went to those sequences, I was like “ugh”. I’m more interested in seeing her figure out this mystery of her life and other stuff, I don’t care about this Quidditch game (I like Quidditch lol I’m just saying lol). She already registered as a Hunter-Warrior, if she wanted to get money to help Hugo, then why didn’t she just do that since she made such a big deal about becoming one?
Overall, Alita: Battle Angel is a fun movie. I think the action sequences and the look of the film are really top notch and I was really into it for those things. The acting is good across the board, some definitely do the heavy lifting and there are a lot of good actors in this movie and I think that’s one of the biggest downfalls of the movie. So much talent but the writing is okay and the characters are not interesting to merit such good acting. It’s sad really and I was not invested in any of these characters. It also feels really long with so much crammed into it which leads into my issue with the motorball stuff. There are side plots that pop up that just are there with some intentions but they just show up randomly. It’s fun to watch but don’t think about it too hard lol.
Rating: 3.3 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Alita: Battle Angel? What are your thoughts on it? Do you think it would serve better as a television show? Respond in the comments below!
Summary: A chronicle of the childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood of a young black man growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.
Cast and Characters. We spend the most time with Chiron but thanks to him meeting others, the viewers get to meet them as well. The characters in this film are acted so well, everything is so understated and subtle. They feel like real people.
Alex R. Hibbert as Little. When we first meet Little, he is running away from bullies. Juan manages to find him, since Little won’t speak, he takes him to his house, feeds him and that sparks a friendship. Alex Hibbert starts off us with this character and he does such a great job setting the tone for this character. He keeps his head down, keeps his lips pursed like he doesn’t like the fact that people keep asking him to speak up. He looks like he has secrets. I thought he did very well.
Ashton Sanders as Chiron. I think he was my favorite out of the three who play the character. Being that he’s a teenager, this is usually a tough time in a person’s life as they are growing out of childhood and on the verge of adulthood. Things change. His mother is deeper into her addiction and he’s being bullied at school. Ashton Sanders is so good! He maintains what Alex started, the awkward walking, keeping his head down, the pursing of the lips like he has something to say but can’t say it. His confusion at his sexuality shows in his face later in this particular section and I think Ashton handles all of that very well.
Trevante Rhodes as Black. First of all, he is fine lol. Now Chiron is an adult, he is a drug dealer in Atlanta. He still says arms length away from others, just does what he has too. He seems have stayed the same into an adult but this time, instead of hating drugs from an arms length away, he hates them up close. He has a conversation with his mother and he ends up reconecting with an old friend. Trevante Rhodes also manages to maintain the same way about him the other two did, the same type of walk, keeping his head down, the quiet way of talking. He doesn’t purse his lips much anymore (I mean how can he with that stupid grill in his mouth) but everything is the same.
Mahershala Ali as Juan. He rightfully won that Oscar. He is drug dealer, who meets Little while he’s running from bullies. He’s kind to him, tries to find where he lives but as Little won’t tell him, he takes him home and cares for him. Even as time goes on, he forms a friendship with him, teaches him to swim and how to make his own path. I really like Mahershala Ali, he knows how to be very subtle and Juan is a man who has to do what he has to do in order to live his life, but when he’s not on the streets, he’s a different person. It’s great the way he takes in Chiron and teaches him many things. His story about living in Cuba and moonlight, I thought came full circle by the end.
Naomie Harris as Paula. Deserved her nomination. I read that she filmed her scenes in three days and it does not show. When we first see her, she doesn’t look like she does drugs but it’s easy to see the downward spiral. Each time we see her, it’s a different point in her life, when Chiron is a child, she seems to be abusive and angry at him, as a teenager, she’s a crack addict and only gives him attention for drug money and as an old woman, well things are different. Naomie Harris is such a great actress, she plays each version of this woman so well, it’s almost scary to see the change. She also made me cry as an adult.
Janelle Monae as Theresa. Definitely a supporting role, but she’s great and contagious. She is Juan’s girlfriend and becomes close with Chiron as she tries to get him to talk comfortably with her, even though he may not do that as a child, he definitely spends a lot more time with her as a teenager. She is what his mother isn’t and it’s clear to see that she loves him and he loves her. Janelle Monae is so likable in this role, the sassiness, her strength creates such a great supporting character.
André Holland as Adult Kevin. He reaches out to Black, he is now a Chef in a dinner in Miami and life hasn’t gone according to plan but he is content for the most part. He and Black have a conversation, they learn more about each other as adults. Kevin does most of the talking and it’s quite interesting to watch their interaction. I felt like Andre Holland was a bit miscast in the role, he seemed to old to play this role, Black couldn’t be more than 25 and Andre seemed much older. Perhaps it was a well thought out choice due to what his life was like. He did a good job though.
Jharrel Jerome as Teen Kevin. He called Chiron “black” and I wouldn’t say they friends like they were when they were kids, but ya know teenage boys. He talks up being a ladies man, though I think he was just doing it on purpose, and later he and Chiron have a nice conversation. However, he us forced to choose a side when Chiron’s bullies want to “haze” him. I liked him, probably in the same way I liked Ashton Sanders. He was charismatic and kind of likable, he played teenage Kevin the way I would think a kid like him would grow into. Seems to be well off, used to getting his way and no one messes with him. Yeah, good job Jharrel (fun fact: he will be in the film adaptation of Walter Dean Myer’s Monster).
Jaden Piner as Child KevinCons. He is Little’s best friend, he’s small like Little but unlike Little, he uses it to his advantage and makes himself seem big. It seems like he comes from a better off family. He teases Little but he also is someone that Little obviously looks up too. Jaden Piner is adorable, he reminds me of Journey Smullet-Bell, like her twin brother (when she was a child). Some child actors can be good and some can be really bad and I think he was in the middle.
Tenderness. I think this film has a lot of tender moments between characters which I thought was beautiful and it isn’t always romantic tenderness. It’s two characters, or even three, who care so much about each other that they created this bond that it’s so easy to feel from the screen. I think it’s great, especially when at times black people can be shown as being sexual beings when it comes to love/romance and this didn’t make a big deal out of it.
Subtle. I liked the fact that a lot of things are shown or discussed in a subtle way. Nothing is made a big deal out of, it feels human.
The Transitions. At first, I was confused because it felt like the chapter for Little just ended, but I noticed that it was a pattern and each pattern was the same but a different color to signify a new time period. I thought it was quite unique.
The ending. I do think it comes full circle, at least in the very last shot we see. We hear Juan talk about it in the beginning and then the way the film ends I was like, wow that’s so awesome.
Questions. I wouldn’t really make this be against the film because it’s probably an art choice, but considering the way the film is edited, we don’t know what happened in between those times when Chiron grows up. It leaves a lot of questions and it’s kind of frustrating, especially when it’s referenced but there isn’t really an explanation. I like the showing and not telling so much but when it’s not there at all, I want to know! Tell me!
Cliche. This isn’t really a terrible thing but I do think that outside of the way the film is told, and the acting, I do think characters like these aren’t necessarily new and fresh. We’ve seen them before.
Overall, I loved this film. It’s amazing. I had minor problems with it and as soon as it was over, I knew and wanted it to win the Oscar for Best Picture. I know a lot of people don’t like it, or refuse to see it due the nature of the film, but I think it’s important that a film like this was made because this does represent people, even men in the Black community. Besides, it may not apply to your life, but it’s a wonderfully made and well acted film.
Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Moonlight? Now that it’s won Best Picture at the Oscars are you more interested or not interested? Let me know in the comments below. Don’t forget to comment, like and follow this blog!