Monday, September 9

Lee Daniels' The Butler

A look at two 20th-century Americas. Lee Daniels’ The Butler.

2013. 132 minutes. Starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Lenny Kravitz, Adriane Lenox, James Marsden, Liev Schreiber, Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, John Cusack, David Oyelowo, Elijah Kelley. Directed by Lee Daniels.

As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man's life, family, and American society.(imdb)

elizabeth: This movie rested very heavy on my heart and soul. As a young child, I got to experience a lot of the events depicted in The Butler as they unraveled. The nightly news exposed us to very cruel and sickening time in this country’s history.  The lynchings, the bombings, the deep, deep hate in the dead hearts of the Klan, politicians and ordinary people. I am so glad that I got to live through this knowing that I would never, ever subject this kind of hate against another human being.

Nicole: Every time I see footage of these injustices, I have to consciously remind myself this happened in America – only 50 years ago. Fifty years…and we still have so much work to be done…so much to learn. Two Americas indeed. 

elizabeth: Forest Whitaker shed his skin and became Cecil Gaines, one of the butlers who toiled in the white House starting with the Eisenhower administration. Whitaker‘s Cecile was just so moving albeit heartbreaking at times and I think his performance helped almost every actor bring their characters to life. There was such an intimacy among these actors--like this story hit too close to home. They wanted to get this story out because this country’s memory is quite limited and I applaud director Lee Daniels for bringing this story to the screen. We need to be reminded all the time about the horrific things we were capable of doing.

Nicole: …we are in dire need of constant reminding, that’s for certain. And, yet, it seems we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. We have made progress as a country. But recent injustices, like that brought upon Trayvon Martin, should spark in us the desire to right wrongs, not repeat them. This movie should be required viewing. And, I couldn’t agree with you more on Forest Whitaker’s performance. If he doesn’t win the Oscar for this, he will have been robbed.

elizabeth: My only disappointment in this movie was Oprah’s performance. She was the only one who I felt was acting like Oprah and she missed becoming Cecile’s wife, Gloria. Kudos to David Oyelowo and Elijah Kelley who played their sons. They could break your heart.

Nicole: Get out of my head, please! I thought the same thing. Every time she was on screen, all I saw was Oprah. She did not disappear into this performance. And, when acting beside Whitaker, her lack of acting prowess is all the more obvious.

elizabeth: I can only imagine that John Cusack is still showering after playing Richard Nixon and Jane Fonda playing Nancy Reagan made me laugh out loud. 

Nicole: Playing against type much? LOL.

elizabeth: In my opinion, films like The Butler are not just made to entertain us for over two hours, they are lessons on our country’s history and a loud-and-clear call for all of us to do better. I would go as far as to say that this movie should be shown in our schools--starting with the first graders.

Nicole: I hate it when we agree. Oh, and the next time you call me a big baby when I cry during a movie, you’re getting a large-sized bag of popcorn dumped on your head.

The Film Fatales give LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER

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