Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of GREEN BOOK

Green Book, rated R
****

Green Book is inspired by a true story. It is a well-written, directed and acted film, one of the best films I’ve seen this year, but has some content concerns to be aware of.  The film is directed and co-written by Peter Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber).  Farrelly wrote the film with Nick Vallelonga, son of Tony Lip, one of the lead characters in the film, and Brian Hayes Currie. The film had a production budget of $23 million.    
The movie takes place over a two-month period in 1962. Tony Lip, played by two-time Oscar nominee Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic, Eastern Promises, The Lord of the Rings films), is a racist Italian-American bouncer from the Bronx, employed at the Copacabana nightclub in New York City. In 1962, he accepts a job driving and protecting the renowned and arrogant African-American jazz pianist Don “Doc” Shirley, played by Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), on a music tour through the Midwest and deep South. The tour had been booked by Columbia Artists, Shirley’s management company and he would be playing at whites-only theaters and parlor rooms. His safety was a legitimate concern as only six years prior in 1956 Nat King Cole had been assaulted on stage while performing for an all-white audience in Birmingham, Alabama. Lip actually traveled with Shirley for a year and a half, which the film condenses into two months. Lips’ son, screenwriter Nick Vallelonga has said that shortening the trip for the film was the only major creative license that the filmmakers took. Continue reading

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My Review of Hidden Figures

hidden-figuresHidden Figures, rated PG
**** 

Hidden Figures is a true, inspirational film that you will love.  It is directed by Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent), and written by Melfi and Allison Schroeder, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.  It tells the story of some key – and hidden – figures in NASA’s efforts to win the space race against the Russians in the early 1960’s. The film features three African-American women, known as “colored computers”, who work for NASA in the Computers Division at the Langley Research Center. The setting is the Mercury Project, the launch of astronaut John Glenn (portrayed by Glenn Powell), into orbit, and his safe return.

Oscar winner (The Help) Octavia Spencer has received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of Dorothy Vaughan. Dorothy does the work of a group supervisor but is held back from receiving the title, pay and recognition of that position. She experiences racism from her supervisor Vivian Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man films), who doesn’t believe an African-American woman should be a supervisor.  Janelle Monae (Moonlight) portrays Mary Jackson, an aerospace engineer who has to take her case to court to be allowed to take classes to pursue an advanced degree. She is striving to overcome all of the obstacles on her way to becoming the first female African-American Engineer at NASA. Oscar nominee (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) Taraji P. Henson portrays Katherine Johnson, an incredible mathematician. She is the only African-American woman working in the Space Task Group. We see her have to fight to have her ideas heard. She has to run across the NASA campus to use the colored ladies restroom and she can’t drink out of the same coffee pot that others in the Space Task Group do. Her performance may be Oscar worthy.

Two-time Oscar winner (Dances with Wolves) Kevin Costner delivers a solid performance as Al Harrison, the head of the Space Task Group.  Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) portrays Jim Johnson, who romantically pursues Katherine, and Golden Globe winner (The Big Bang Theory) Jim Parsons portrays Katherine’s supervisor Paul Stafford, who puts one obstacle after another in Katherine’s ability to do her job.

I really enjoyed the music in the film. The film has received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score – Motion Picture from Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams and Benjamin Wallfisch. Williams also served as one of the producers of the film.

There are many instances of faith being displayed in the film (a scene in church, prayer at the dinner table, etc.).  The romance between Jim Johnson and Katherine is lovely, and should be an example to the younger generation, along with the work ethic portrayed and the emphasis on education.  The film shows the racism and the pursuit of civil rights in the country in the early 1960’s. The film also includes some real-life footage of space launches, a speech from President Kennedy, etc.

The film tells the inspirational story of these three brilliant and driven African-American women who battled race and gender biases. It features excellent acting performances and is a refreshing PG-rated film that all can enjoy without worrying about content issues.

Highly recommended!