Got to see and enjoy the following Movies and a Play last week:
Green Book
If Beale Street could talk
Can you ever forgive me
Approaching empty (Play)

The first 2 of these movies approach the USA issue of race and its past handling in the “land of the free”. The country and its movie industry is still not at peace and based on the different treatment in these movies and the Oscars last night.

Green Book title name refers to a guide book of accommodation for non-whites in the deep south of USA during the early 1960’s. This movie is said to be “inspired” by fact and the clue to the amount of factual evidence lies therein. It is a sweet and pleasant tale of the interactions between a white driver with a past career as a bouncer and a black piano player who tour the South. These key parts are played very well by Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali and the movie was directed by Peter Farrelly. The interaction between the 2actors and their with the racist south plays to many stereotypes and is often funny and nearly always re-assuring that decency and humanity can win through in movies despite real life. Writing this up from my notes this morning post Oscar night, I can appreciate why it won a vote by what remains a white voting pool. my ranking 7/10

If Beale Street could talk, is a better movie, more used knuckles than soft skin in its treatment of race in the USA. Lead role by Kiki Layne and an Oscar awarded to Regina King as supporting actress playing her mother. The relationship is played between both is played out beautifully. Using a series of flashbacks the romance between Kiki and boyfriend is revealed as she tries to clear his name for a wrongful charge and conviction. Set in the 70’s (not clear from movie), it is critical of a the justice system and far from the “feelgood” of GreenBook. Directed by Barry Jenkins, the music is also very good. my ranking 8/10

Can you ever forgive me based upon factual story, traces the gradual progression a white writer played by Melissa McCarthy (no relation) into crime supported by Richard Grant. Both are excellent in their respective roles as Melissa is initially tempted by poverty (in the USA – tough on poor whites) to create short personal typed messages as might be written by a famous writer thereby becoming collectables for fans of the same writers. The purchasers eventually object and the FBI act. Directed by Marielle Heller. my ranking 7/10.

Live Theatre in Newcastle puts on some great plays. This one was directed by Pooja Ghai and written by Ishy Din. Set in a taxi office in an unnamed Northern city/town in 2013 following the death of Thatcher it looks at the interaction between a group of ordinary folk and their respective struggles to make good financially, taking a risk to garner financial security and the challenge to friendships between them. Thatchers lengthy quote of note “…. no such thing as society. people must look to themselves first…” sets an unmentioned background. The people in this play are doing that and we are frequently warned in the Play not to mix family / friendship and business. Those who follow that mantra do lose out in this Play which prompts for the listener a conversation about a better way. Play justifiably carried a warning on “strong language” which I think was overused. Lesser use can have more impact.