Tag: Lee Daniels

The Butler

August 19th, 2013 — 6:33am


The Butler – rm This is much more than the story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) who served as a butler in the White House for United States Presidents from Eisenhower through Reagan. It is a moving depiction of the civil rights movement in the United States from the maltreatment of blacks in the south in the 1930s through the dramatic integration of schools in Little Rock, to Sit-Ins to integrate diners in the south , to the brave Freedom Bus Riders, the civil rights legislation, the tragic assassination of Martin Luther King and the continued demonstrations which followed in the years to come. The viewers are taken on a very personal journey to experience these events and others, as the Butler’s grown son Louis (David Oyelowo) participates in them while his father views the role of the United States President in shaping and responding to them. The movie is based on a newspaper article by Wil Haygood about a real person who served United States presidents as a White House butler for this large span of years and lived long enough to vote for Barack Obama. Even if screenwriter Danny Strong and Director Lee Daniels may have taken poetic license by having the older son Louis being present at all of the major events in the Civil Rights Movement shown in the film, it allows us to emotionally go through these milestones in a first hand manner. They are brought to life as if they were ripped from the pages of history. The friction between father and son emphasizes the differences in generational thinking not only of this one black family but would also reflect some of the changes in thinking which many of us have seen in this country during our life time. Forest Whitaker is magnificent as the Butler as he captures the soul and dignity of his character. Oprah Winfrey is outstanding as the sensitive wife who struggles with the frequent absence of her husband due to his long hours at the White House and the pain which the lives of her sons brings her. We don’t know if the words attributed to each U.S. President are known quotes but the character of them and the significant events that were shown during their presidencies all ring true. The mannerisms of each them were handled quite well by Robin Williams as Eisenhower, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, James Marsden as John F. Kennedy, Liev Schreiber as LBJ and Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan along with Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan. There were many other very fine supporting roles. In addition, the movie is bookended quite well by a most dramatic and traumatic turn of events from the young Cecil Gaines as a youth working in the cotton fields in the south to him being an aged man walking in to meet the first black President of the United States. The sense of the historic chain of events which this encompassed will send chills up your spine and probably bring tears to your eyes. (2013)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama, History


January 16th, 2010 — 2:30am

Precious* * * * *
– rm – An extremely obese abused black pregnant teenager with one defective toddler child already, gets kicked out of school. You probably can’t imagine a more depressing difficult situation than this, but actually her problems are even much worse than this description. However, she finds her way to an Alternative School and a no-nonsense teacher who cares about her and the other misfits in the class. The gritty bleak environment in which Precious lives is captured in a very palpable manner by Director Lee Daniels based on a novel titled Push by Sapphire and a screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher. Gabourey Sidibe in a remarkable debut performance conveys the depths of despair and determination of her character but also has a chance to show the emotions of joy which Precious imagines in brief fantasy flashbacks. As good as she is in this role, if only one acting award is to be given from this movie, it should go to Mo’Nique who plays the despicable mother of Precious who expresses her fury as well as unfolding the pitiful vulnerability of her character. This movie is the story of one person’s life living in a more common terrible ghetto environment. You would almost think that there are no descent black males here if it were not for the depiction of a caring young male nurse whom Precious encounters in the hospital sensitively played by Lenny Kravitz. . Also if you haven’t heard, Mariah Carey is “unbeautified” and plays an intense social worker. Oprah Winfrey who has the clout to make things happen as well as Tyler Perry equally successful actor/writer/producer were the forces that pushed this film to the screen. This movie will hit you in the gut, but if you can take it, you will have an unforgettable glimpse into the struggles that some young people have been dealing with in our inner cities. (2009)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama

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