Currently on digital and coming to on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD from director Peter Farrelly and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the story of two men and a “Green Book.”
It is the 1960s and Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) is an Italian-American in the Bronx who works as security at the famous Copa. When there is a problem at the club, Tony must find temporary employment elsewhere. He receives a telephone call one morning asking if he wanted to interview for a driving job.
Arriving at Carnegie Hall, he waits his turn to be interviewed. That’s when he meets Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world class pianist who is African-American. He learns that Dr. Shirley is planning a road trip into the deep southern states that will take two months. As the two men talk and feel each other out, Tony is sure that he didn’t get the job.
To his surprise, Dr. Shirley gets the okay from Tony’s wife Dolores (Linda Cardellini) for him to be gone until Christmas Eve. He also learns that because he is driving an African-American, Tony needs to read The Negro Motorist Green Book that will tell him when, where and the rules in the south.
Throughout their trip, Tony and Dr. Shirley begin to learn about each other, experience new things and discover that the deep south of the 1960s could be a place of fear and ignorance. Both men begin to change their perspectives and perceptions that will lead to a life long friendship based on the one word they knew that most didn’t – respect.
Mortensen as Tony portrays this Italian-American as a man who has no problem using his fists when push comes to shove – and it’s not Tony that starts the shoving. He is a man of the era with a belief found in almost everyone from the neighborhood in the Bronx. Mortensen is absolutely stunning in this role and deserves every accolade. It is a difficult role and his talent in portraying Tony is locked in and strongly portrayed.
He has made his way through characters in films since I first spotted him in the 1993 film “American Yakuza” and there has been no looking back. Mortensen cemented his career with the role of Aragorn in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy which has allowed his choice of roles to range from westerns to apocalyptic in nature. His role in “Green Book” is just extraordinary.
Ali as Dr. Shirley is now an Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Green Book.” He is a very eloquent, educated and smooth moving pianist who believes that Tony has the potential to be even more than he is. What he doesn’t understand is that Tony likes being Tony. There are moments that Ali’s performance is just heartbreaking because of the situations they two men found themselves in but then the joy of laughter in a bucket of KFC.
If Ali seems familiar to you then you are obviously a fan of the hit Netflix series “House of Cards,” but his career spans television with the most recent series “The 4400.” He has continues to jump from television with the HBO hit series “True Detectives” and the film “Free State of Jones.”
Cardellini as Dolores is a woman who sees that her husband will do anything to provide for his family. Worried that his beliefs would have him fired in a week, she slowly begins to see that the friendship between the two men is forming and having an effect on her husband Tony.
Other cast include: Dimiter D. Marinov as Oleg, Mike Hatton as George, Joe Cortese as Gio, Don Stark as Jules Podell, Quinn Duffy as Mikey Cerrone and Von Lewis as Bobby Rydell.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us all to experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer go to www.uphe.com.
The 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and digital bonus features include Virtuoso Performances – Go behind the scenes with Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali as they discuss their characters and the lengths they went to accurately portray them, An Unforgettable Friendship – Cast and filmmakers discuss the friendship between Don Shirley and Tony Lip and Going Beyond the “Green Book” – Filmmakers and cast discuss the significance of the “Green Book.”
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“Green Book” turns out to be the surprise win at the 2019 Academy Awards but then again it shouldn’t be a surprise at all. It is a story of true friendship and the lessons each learn along their two month road trip. From bars to police to hotels and even the unexpected reactions to driving Dr. Shirley – each situation that presents itself causes both men to have to remain calm.
I was absolutely mesmerized by Mortensen and Ali together on the screen. They played off of each other to the point that I forgot who I was watching because the story captured me. Not being afraid to tackle the issues of the south in the 1960s, it also tackles the belief of those living in the northern states who perhaps didn’t believe they had issues at the time.
As both characters start to open up more and more, it doesn’t surprise me that the friendship of Dr. Shirley and Tony lasted a lifetime. The two months they spent together brought surprises, life lessons, humor, understanding, secrets and music.
The bonus features are absolutely worth watching to get a deeper look inside this friendship from the two men portraying Dr. Shirley and Tony. The heartfelt interviews just give “Green Book” am even deeper reason for us all to watch the film.
“Green Book” is everything I want in a film that tells the true story of two unexpected men who became brothers.