Film Review: ‘Green Book,’ a road trip peppered with hilarity and humiliation

A still from ‘Green Book.’ (Image supplied)
Updated 24 November 2018
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Film Review: ‘Green Book,’ a road trip peppered with hilarity and humiliation

CHENNAI: Peter Farrelly’s latest work, “Green Book,” which had its Middle East premiere at the Cairo International Film Festival last week, captures the agony and angst of African-Americans at a crucial time in US history.
Farrelly presents a deeply moving snapshot of a biased society, but narrates it with delightful humor, in this story about African-American pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), who embarks on a concert tour in the Deep South in 1962. Armed with a Green Book — a guide for black travelers with information on safe hotels and other public places — the prosperous Shirley hires tough-talking Italian-American bouncer Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) as his driver-cum-muscle and the pair set out on an eventful journey into the heartland of racial prejudices. While Vallelonga is uncouth in his ways, Shirley is a thoroughbred and takes pains to teach his driver social etiquette. When Vallelonga steals a precious stone from a wayside store, Shirley insists that the gem be returned. Vallelonga gets even by forcing his boss to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken, something he has never done before. These lighter moments are neatly woven into a patchwork with the humiliating, difficult to digest incidents that Shirley faces. While he is welcome to play at some of the poshest theaters and hotels in the Deep South, he is not allowed to use their conveniences — not even their restaurants — due to the color of his skin.
Based on a true story — interviews with the real-life Shirley and Vallelonga’s accounts of the concert tour were reportedly the primary sources for the original screenplay — the film was co-written by Vallelonga’s son, Nick. It is a departure from Farrelly’s most famous films, “Dumb and Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary,” as it provides a serious study of racism in the US, along with a healthy dose of humor.
It is saddening to see Shirley suffer through the torturous trials he is put through, incidents that serve as a reminder of what was a daily reality for so many not so long ago. While Mortensen shines in his role, it is ultimately Ali who steals the show as a trailblazing pianist with a point to prove.


Winners of prestigious photography award announced at Riyadh forum

Colors of Arabia held an event to honor artists in Riyadh. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 14 December 2018
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Winners of prestigious photography award announced at Riyadh forum

  • Colors of Arabia forum held under the patronage of SCTH President Prince Sultan bin Salman

RIYADH; The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) has announced the winners of the Prince Sultan Bin Salman Photography Award in four categories.
Winners of the prestigious award, which was launched to recognize budding talent and efforts to highlight the Kingdom’s heritage, received SR300,000 each and shields at a ceremony held at the Colors of Arabia forum under the patronage of Prince Sultan bin Salman, SCTH president.
The forum, which is being held at Riyadh’s International Convention and Exhibition Center, spans 15,000 square meters and is expected to have attracted 30,000 visitors by the time it ends on Sunday.
The award for the “pioneers” category, which recognizes the work of Saudis who have successfully contributed to the development of local artists, was won by a photographer in Hafr Al-Batin who began capturing day-to-day life in the Eastern Province city at only 12 years of age. The work of Jarallah Al-Hamad is now used in government brochures.
The award in the “literature and publications” category, which was open to contenders of any nationality both within and outside the Kingdom, recognizes photographers who have captured shots for publications and the film industry. Amin Al-Qusayran, a photographer and graphic designer from Madinah who began pursuing his passion 15 years ago, had previously won two awards in recognition of his work. Al-Qusayran is also author of a pictorial book shedding light on the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
The “civilized heritage” category, meanwhile, was open to photographers from around the globe seeking to preserve world heritage through the power of image.
The award for this category was jointly won by two photographers of Arab descent. Mohamed Bouhsen, from Bahrain, had left university to document national heritage in his country and the Arabian Peninsula at large. He won the award alongside Jalal Al-Masri, an Egyptian photographer who has taken part in 133 local, Arab and international exhibitions.
The STCH also announced the winners of the photo and short film awards in seven categories.
Mazen Flamban, who won the award in the “cultural heritage” category, expressed his surprise and joy at having had his work recognized.
“My ambition is to revive Hijazi heritage through my lens,” Flamban told Arab News. “This was the first year I joined the competition. My photo depicts an old woman who lives alone as she reminisces over old photos.”