It’s rare that I am evangelistic when it comes to Hollywood movies.
“Green Book,” a movie combining raucous humor, tearful poignancy and authentic truth, is a rare exception for me.
It’s very much a movie for our times.
What do I mean by that? It’s an understatement to say we live in times of deep division – some would even go so far as to suggest we are moving toward tribalism.
This movie, and the kind of behavior it portrays and extolls, is the antidote to the kind of alienation we’re experience in America today.
But more than that, it’s just great entertainment – the kind that makes you feel good, laugh, wonder why it’s so hard for people to just get along with one another.
In case you haven’t heard about “Green Book,” or seen the trailer, it’s a movie inspired by the true life story of Don Shirley, the virtuoso pianist of the 1950s and 1960s, a highly sophisticated and educated black man, and his relationship with his driver-bodyguard, Tony Vallalonga, aka Tony Lip, a tough Italian bouncer from the Copa Cabana.
For me, it was a no-brainer. It’s New York in the 1960s – my town, my formative years, plenty of nostalgia. The conflict is what this odd couple experiences when Shirley is invited to tour the Deep South where they need the “Green Book” of hotels and restaurants that serve blacks.
There’s plenty of Oscar buzz for “Green Book” and it’s understandable why. It is expertly written, directed and produced. It’s a great story. As I said, it’s uproariously funny on the one hand and endearingly poignant on the other.
Maybe I’m dreaming when I think movies can actually bring people together, heal the wounds of bigotry and hate, remind us that – despite our differences – we’re all human beings and potentially God’s children.
But remember, I already told you I’m an evangelist for this movie. I love it – and it’s exceedingly rare for me to say that. I wish I didn’t wait so long to tell you how strongly I felt about this one.
Long ago and far away in another time and place, I wrote about movies and entertainment for a living, if you can believe it.
I had to see virtually every movie that came out of Hollywood in those days. It wasn’t hard for me to stop doing that. Most of what I saw was crap. But all the garbage I saw only made me love great movies even more.
What makes for a great movie? One of the characteristics I look for is conflict that leads to redemption.
We all experience plenty of conflict in our lives. And we’re all looking for redemption of some kind.
In “Green Book,” we meet two broken people, two flawed and scarred people. Together, on a road trip full of conflict, they mend their wounds and find love and appreciation for each other against all odds.
Or, maybe it’s not against all odds. Maybe that’s what we’ve come to expect of ourselves in 2019 – that connections between disparate souls don’t get made. But could it be our own low expectations are short-circuiting the connections.
Forgive me. I am over-analyzing this fun, engaging and touching movie. It’s a movie. It’s supposed to be entertaining. And this one is. So, go and enjoy it. May its kind multiply and prosper.