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

A still from ‘Green Book.’ (Image supplied)
Updated 24 November 2018

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.


Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s ‘Free Solo’ sweeps Creative Emmys

‘Free Solo’ follows Alex Honnold’s attempt to become the first person to climb El Capitan. (Supplied)
Updated 15 September 2019

Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s ‘Free Solo’ sweeps Creative Emmys

  • “Free Solo’” has won seven Creative Arts Emmy Awards
  • The documentary picked up every award for which it was nominated at Saturday’s ceremony in Los Angeles

DUBAI: Co-produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, the critically-acclaimed documentary “Free Solo’” has won seven Creative Arts Emmy Awards, adding to a slate of honors that already includes a BAFTA and an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

The documentary picked up every award for which it was nominated at Saturday’s ceremony in Los Angeles, including outstanding directing for a documentary/nonfiction program, outstanding cinematography, sound editing, sound mixing, picture editing, music composition and best achievement in interactive media.

Presented by National Geographic, directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin and co-produced by Image Nation, “Free Solo” follows Alex Honnold’s attempt to become the first person to climb El Capitan – a 3,000 foot high vertical rock in Yosemite National Park – with no ropes or safety gear.

The documentary was co-produced by Parkes+MacDonald, Image Nation, Little Monster Films and National Geographic.

"I think it always comes back to Alex, the diligence and discipline and teaching himself over the years," Vasarhelyi told the Hollywood Reporter backstage at Sunday’s award ceremony. "I think in terms of the Creative Arts Emmys, Alex brought so much craft to what he did, that all of us, every member of our team got a nomination. So it’s incredible to see the Academy appreciates the hard work that went into it."

In February, “Free Solo” won an Oscar at the 91st Academy Awards. After the ceremony Chin told reporters, “Hanging off the wall, I couldn’t see Alex Honnold below, and I just had to trust that he was just being perfect. We also had to carry the weight of the entire production being perfect, because if we made any mistakes, it could have been catastrophic.”

UAE-based fans were treated to a special screening of the film in March and chief content office of Image Nation Ben Ross shared his thoughts at the event.

“From the incredible reviews to the Academy Award and BAFTA wins, we are so proud that Image Nation Abu Dhabi and the UAE can say it helped to support this incredible film…It has been an honor to work with the National Geographic.”