Tag: Little Rock

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

The Last Ride

June 8th, 2012 — 10:25pm


The Last Ride –sp   If this were just a great buddy movie about two unlikely guys driving together throughout the south, this film would be worth seeing. But it is much more. It is the story of how country music was the fabric of the people and the land where it originated. In 1952 when this movie was set, the personality who embodied that music and the stories that it told was Hank Williams. This is a movie about Hank Williams and yet we never see him sing one note. Director and a co-producer of this movie Harry Thomason is a well known television/movie director/producer as well as a friend of President and Mrs. Bill Clinton. He is also a native of Little Rock Arkansas where he once was a teacher and high school football coach and therefore was able to find authentic settings for all the scenes, which included gas stations, roadside stops, and many local roads.  The storyline shows an 18 year old bumbling but conscientious car mechanic Silas (Jesse James) who   is offered an opportunity to earn some good money by driving a well dressed man with a cowboy hat, unknown to him to be Hank Williams (Henry Thomas) in a lovely blue Cadillac to a destination several hundred miles away. Williams is an alcoholic with a back condition named spinal bifida and a persistent cough, which heralds bad things to come. During the long car ride they get to know each other as they encounter bad weather, a pretty gas station attendant (Kaley Cuoco) who becomes the first date and first kiss for Silas, local musicians gathered around a stovepipe furnace to play true blue country music, a local policeman who pulls them into the local court, a barroom fight and a failed desperate biplane air flight. There is a wonderful soundtrack of country music, which envelops the audience throughout the movie, which complements the warm feelings that we feel for the characters as we get to know them. In The year when Williams took this fateful car ride across country in a powder blue Cadillac, he had a number one hit titled “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive”  This song  was more prophetic than anyone would have dreamed as at the end of this buddy trip  twenty nine year old Hank Williams never made it out of his blue Cadillac His persona and his music has lived on as will this film. (2012)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, History

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