The Green Mile
(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)

I had been looking forward to the Green Mile more than to any other movie this Christmas season and I wasn't disappointed.  Much like The Winslow Boy, this movie is just a joy to watch, not so much because of the story, but because each of the actors, including those playing the smallest parts, is putting on an Oscar-level performance.  This movie has Gary Sinise, James Cromwell, Graham Greene and Harry Dean Stanton, and these are just the bit players.  The Green Mile is a story set on death row in a Louisiana prison in 1935.  This is not the usual life and death prison story like Dead Man Walking.  Don't get me wrong, this film is emotional and has its gritty moments including graphic scenes of executions in the electric chair. But it is about something else, an allegory of good and evil.  As written by Stephen King, this is a supernatural story where both the prisoners and guards are mainly good old boys who have been brought together under some strange circumstances.   The relationship betweenTom Hanks, as the head prison guard, and Michael Clarke Duncan, as a condemned man with unusual powers, is the focal point of this movie.  The pace of this movie is purposely slow and at three hours has seemed long to some reviewers. But it didn't seem long to me. I enjoyed it all even though the ending is a bit goofy.  It degenerates into a X-Files type story but remember this is Stephen King. There are some parallels with another recent prison movie, The Shawshank Redemption.  Both were written by Stephen King and directed by Frank Darabont. But they are very different movies.  The Green Mile is not in the same league with The Shawshank Redemption, which is the best film of the 1990's and in my all-time top ten, but it is very good.  The performances are great, particularly Tom Hanks who seems to turn in a performance in each of his movies that deserves an Oscar nomination.  When he opens his mouth you may think Forrest Gump but his character here is completely different. Michael Clarke Duncan, whose previous acting credits include three bouncers and a character called, Huge Guard, is very good here.  It is nice to see David Morse, best known from St. Elsewhere, in a good guy role. He has played too many villains lately.  As I said, everyone in this movie does a great job with their roles so I could go on and on. In particular, Bonnie Hunt , who is wonderful but underutilized, gets to shine a bit here as Tom Hank's wife.  And Michael Jeter, best known for Evening Shade, gets a nice part here as one of the condemned men. The new Bond movie was fun and had lots of action but for me there is more enjoyment in sitting back and watching Tom Hanks and the others make good filmmaking look effortless. Even the mouse may get an Oscar nomination.