A lot of movies have promise. The promise is the best part: think of all you could get out of this movie. Right now, before hitting play, you could get allllllllll of it, for all you know. Picture it. Savor it. It's what marketing does. It's what other people's reviews do. Still, so frequently, we compromise: we accept, at some point down the running time, that the movie isn't gonna shake us quite the way we might have wanted it…
For me the most "masterpiece in theory" of Bresson's three major 1950s films. Something about the juxtaposition of physical labor and spiritual anguish just fundamentally didn't work on me; I felt the action sequences in my bones, but could only muster respectful nods at the minimalist interludes, which in turn made the action sequences seem somewhat insular, maybe even a little arbitrary. Similar frustrations to Dreyer's Ordet, but without that movie's unbridled, eventually mesmerizing commitment to itself. A mishmash.
I want to say something to this film's young queer fans. (Buckle up, 'cause this will be long and full of links.)
I see you. Your love for this movie is valid. Never before in history has a movie with an openly queer protagonist played on 3000 screens in the US, let alone grossed over half a billion dollars internationally—that we've gotten this far is momentous and worth celebrating. I see your admiration for Freddie and his artistry; I'm just…
The reason Green Book works on some people—other than the fact that not everyone knows/cares about its self-serving bastardization of history—is that it's a skillful feat of misdirection.
Imagine this: a guy wants to make a movie about his father, a rascally, larger-than-life working-class Bronx type. He wants to dramatize one of the old man's irresistible tall tales, and he sensibly opts for the one with self-evident cinematic potential; the time his father's life intersected with that of an important…