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Your November Reminders

Categories: Calendar: Viggo

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Universal To Release Its Stealth Oscar Contender, 'Green Book,' Five Days Early

Source: Forbes

Universal/Comcast Corp. just dropped word that they will be platforming Green Book five days before its national Thanksgiving weekend debut.

© Universal.
by Scott Mendelson

To wit, the buzzy and crowd-pleasing dramedy, starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali (both of whom offer wonderful movie star turns) will open in limited release on the weekend of Nov. 16 with the intent of going wide as planned on Nov. 21. The reasoning is simple, namely that the festival darling and stealth Oscar contender will play like gangbusters with paying consumers. I saw Green Book last night, and it's a very good movie. Universal knows it and are attempting to get the word out accordingly.

If I were Universal, I'd seriously consider holding a national sneak preview on the weekend of the 16th, perhaps paired with First Man as a kind of old-school double-feature sneak preview. I'm curious how the pundits will react, as it's the kind of racially-charged dramedy that will allow white folks (especially older white folks) to walk out of the theater feeling a lot better about themselves than they might after BlacKkKlansman or The Hate U Give. That it is a "safer" movie than Sorry to Bother You or Blindspotting does not change the fact that it's a solid piece of intelligent and entertaining feel-good studio programming.

We shouldn't have to choose only between righteously angry political screeds and (at best) metaphorically-inclined blockbuster action fantasies. It is both the kind of audience-pleaser that could end up as a major Oscar player and the kind of movie that ends up being tagged as "the enemy" (like The Blind Side). To be fair, I'm sure Universal would be thrilled with even 1/2 of The Blind Side's $257 million domestic and $309m worldwide cume. With the caveat that I still enjoy The Blind Side on its own terms (for that matter, I still think Precious is terrific), this isn't a white savior pic.

It's a buddy comedy, one that tells a true-life tale that reverses the Driving Miss Daisy template. Mortensen plays a job-to-job patriarch who takes an eight-week gig to drive around Ali's cultured, refined and refreshingly eccentric concert pianist as the musician goes on a tour in the heart of the Deep South. Yes, there is peril involved, and the title references a guide to hotels and restaurants along the way that will safely serve black people. Green Book is the kind of film that ends up legging it for weeks because it's good and because it works as a consensus choice for large groups and family movie outings.

It's not a cartoon, a horror movie, a superhero flick or a musical biopic. Like The Blind Side, it has the potential to be the kind of movie that may not be everyone's first choice, but rather than choice that everyone in the group can agree upon. Paramount is hoping that their Mark Wahlberg/Rose Byrne foster care dramedy Instant Family (opening wide on Nov. 16 and which I have yet to see) fits that definition as well, and I imagine that Paramount is hoping that Universal doesn't take my national sneak preview suggestion to heart.

However, with essentially nothing opening between Thanksgiving and Dec. 14, and with much of the year-end stuff conventionally franchise-y faire (Aquaman, Bumblebee, Mortal Engines, etc.), there may be room for two variations on Blind Side or Wonder between mid-November and mid-January. Sure, I might argue that something should move from Thanksgiving (which is super crowded) and that Dec. 14-to-Dec. 25 blitz and instead open in those first two weekends of December, but the absence of early December biggies may allow the Thanksgiving flicks (Creed II, Ralph Wrecks the Internet, Green Book and Robin Hood) to leg out accordingly. That might not help the Christmas biggies, but I digress.

We're still looking at an Oscar race comprised of A Star Is Born, BlacKkKlansman, Green Book, Black Panther, The Favourite (which is a nasty delight while also being Lanthimos's most overtly mainstream release yet) and Alfonso Curon's Netflix original Roma. As hoped for, the bulk of the major Oscar contenders will likely be comprised of major studio fare, and yes I count Focus Features (which is, like Universal, owned by Comcast) and Fox Searchlight as arms of a bigger major studio operation. Universal knows Green Book is a buzzy winner, and they are banking on a big per-theater average and strong word-of-mouth to power the film into its national Thanksgiving debut.

© Forbes. Images © Universal.

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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo

Found By: Iolanthe
Categories: Media Quotable Viggo

I loved the comment from Thessaly La Force of the New York Times that Viggo was able to ‘transmit a feeling of soul’ in his films. This is the nub of it, isn’t it? The reason he is so compelling on screen. A deeply aware and soulful man, he is able to bring all of that to bear on every role he plays. You can look into his character’s eyes and the depths are always there, no matter who he is playing because he brings himself completely into the part. Yet somehow, he can transmute that into someone entirely other. It’s kinda magic.

He is, in such a superficial medium, able to transmit the feeling of a soul.

Viggo Mortensen, the Unlikely Leading Man
New York Times
By Thessaly La Force
15 October 2018

...while he’s clearly driven by a need to express himself via many outlets, he still exudes a sense of some private, fundamentally unknowable core self. It permeates his screen presence, too, and is part of what makes him so intriguing as an actor.

Viggo Mortensen: Still here, still fantastic
The Film Experience
By Nathaniel Rogers
24 April 2016

Mortensen can get into his characters’ skins, but also their souls, and he knows how to project a character’s inner life onto the screen.

Jeffrey Westhoff
Northwest Herald
24 November 2009

Few actors can do stillness on screen with as much conviction as Viggo Mortensen. That chiselled face, turned towards a landscape or held in concentration as someone else speaks, can stand in for any amount of narrative exposition: look at any of Mortensen's characters and you know, without having to be told about it, that man's had a hell of a past.

Far From Men: Viggo Mortensen saddles up in Albert Camus' short story
by Stephanie Bunbury
Sydney Morning Herald
23 July 2015

“He’s very sweet and soulful and thoughtful, but in terms of working with him as an actor, I’ve never seen anyone so three-dimensionally aware or involved with a production.”

Interview: George MacKay
The Scotsman
7 July 2018

Mortensen is such a delicately sentient actor that nothing he does reads as pure caricature. When Ben realizes that in trying to prepare his children for everything he may have prepared them for nothing, it’s as if we can see right into his crushed soul. It’s also the moment he becomes most human: at some point, all kids have to learn that parents are people too.

Stephanie Zacharek: Captain Fantastic
4 July 2016

Viggo steals the picture. His always fresh and relaxed expressions, with dark subtexts dancing just below the surface, never cease to astound me.

Rex Reed - Appaloosa
The New York Observer
17 September 2008

Mortensen – an intriguing man, serene and philosophical – spoke during our interview with such tender sincerity about the two characters and their unremitting and inexpressibly vital bond that it seems clear that he has invested a large but vulnerable part of his soul into his performance. I don’t care that this sounds indulgent because there is something about this film, this novel, something so pure, so intrinsically human that forces one to shove aside smart-arsed scepticism and just marvel – humbled – at so crucial and compelling a message.

Dan Hollis – The Road
May 2010

It’s a testament to Hillcoat’s obvious belief in the strength of unadorned screen acting that he, like McCarthy before him, refuses even to explain the global cataclysm that has brought his protagonists to this state. Instead he asks us to read it, mostly, in the depths of Mortensen’s wide, pellucid eyes… his eyes are filled with the kind of tremulous compassion that can carry the emotional weight of an entire movie.

Kevin Maher
The Times Online
8 January 2010

Mortensen's power comes directly from his eyes. They speak much more than any line he delivers in the film and offer an astounding glimpse into the psyche of his character.

Christopher Childs – A History of Violence
May 31, 2005

The beating pulse of the movie comes from Bello and Mortensen, both of whom are award worthy. Viggo might have had a haircut since his middle-earth days, but he's lost none of his power. Look into his eyes, you'll see his soul.

Paul Greenwood – A History of Violence
Future Movies
29 September 2005

As with History of Violence, [Cronenberg] elicits another tour-de-force performance by Mortensen, who completely envelops his Russian low-level mobster, Nikolai. A lot is going on in this remarkable actor’s body and soul, resulting in one of the year’s most stunning performance.

Paul Fisher – Eastern Promises
9 Sept 2007

...Mortensen plays this role as if he had different blood chemistry than the rest of us. Nikolai remains eerily still until he's moved to act; then he glides forth with reptilian grace. Yet something still glows at the bottom of those half-lidded eyes - enough to suggest the cobra has a soul.

Ty Burr – Eastern Promises
Boston Globe
14 Sept 2007

"Viggo has the perfect qualities as a man and as an actor to do this part. He’s got incredible depth of soul.”

Nick Wechsler – The Road
Interview with Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Contender
3 September 2009

You will find all previous Quotables here.

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © Javier Aquirresarobe/Dimension Films/2929 Productions.

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More from the Rome Red Carpet

Found By: Chrissie

Thanks again to Chrissie for bringing us a few more images from the "Green Book" red carpet.

© Getty.

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Rome Red Carpet

Found By: Chrissie

Thanks to Chrissie for a few images from the "Green Book" red carpet yesterday.

© Cinematografo.

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Last edited: 15 December 2018 16:48:16