The Green Mile
**** GM
Starring: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse, Jeffrey DeMunn, Barry Pepper, Doug Hutchison, Michael Jeter, Sam Rockwell


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Director Frank Darabont's "The Shawshank Redemption" has been one of my favorite films for a while now - not often does a film inspire me and involve me as much as this film did. This was the man's first feature film. His second film packs a huge emotional punch as well. I'm still reeling a bit.

Paul Edgecome (Tom Hanks), "Brutal" Howell (David Morse), Dean Stanton (Barry Pepper) and Harry Terwilliger (Jeffrey DeMunn) play Louisiana prison guards charged with tending to death row inmates. As opposed to most prison guards you see in the films, including Clancy Brown in "Shawshank," the approach here is to treat these dead men walking as nicely as possible, to keep them from snapping and doing bad things - a policy that the bullying and full-of-shit guard Percy Whetmore (Doug Hutchison) can't comprehend at all. The method works for prisoners like Delacroix (Michael Jeter), who seems mild-mannered enough, loves little meeces to pieces and seems to genuinely repent... but for guys like Wild Bill Wharton (Sam Rockwell), all you can hope to do is stay away from his cage so he doesn't bug you. But when John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) shows up - an enormous man convicted of killing two little girls, but with a suspiciously soft-spoken and innocent demeanor and miraculous abilities - the "green mile" will be forever changed.

It's long been a general belief of mine that there are more complete asshole shitheads in the world than there are decent folk... and I've lost a good deal of my faith in humanity. It's hard to hold onto when close friends tell you that there isn't a girl they know that hasn't been sexually molested or at least suffered an attempt at it... but to have the point hammered home, when a man put on this earth to heal would rather be killed than exist in this evil world any longer, really shook me up.

The argument will probably be made that this film is 'manipulative' - drawing out the intensely emotional scenes in order to bludgeon sympathy and tears from the audience. That argument was made for "Philadelphia" - another movie that forced you to watch the slow, lingering death of a sympathetic character. But that's the fucking POINT. Andy's family and friends in "Philadelphia" had to suffer through every excruciating moment of watching the man fall prey to the ultimate indignities of his slowly-crumbling body, and you're going to feel what they feel. Paul and his crew have to live through every dreaded moment of anticipation before walking the green mile to put an innocent, benevolent man into a chair to FRY him... and you're going to walk every goddam step of that green mile with them.

The film is a relentlessly depressing delivery of a somewhat uplifting message of faith. The stain of man's inhumanity to man has driven the divine guidance from the earth, and the end of everyone's life leaves them alone, decrepit and praying for death... but miracles can happen. There's a few glimmers of hope to cling to. They may not be much, and most people won't witness any in a lifetime, but they're there.

Hutchison's Percy is an amazingly effective cock. Duncan's Coffey is brilliant in the fact that he is NEVER threatening for a moment, save for his confrontation with Percy. Hanks and Morse have the warmth needed to convey their approach to tending to the inmates, and Morse has the physical presence to help Hanks look like a bad-ass when he needs to. David Morse has been excellent in everything I've seen him in. He can play Jodie Foster's loving father in "Contact" to the rugged ex-convict in "The Crossing Guard." He's in that Kevin Spacey class of actors - if he's in it, I'll watch it.

My only problem with the film is that a three-hour long movie should not have a whole lot of pissing scenes in it.

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