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January 7th, 2014

Lee Daniels' The Butler...

~Tuesday~  The Butler finally made it to the $2.00 movie theater, so I checked it out tonight.

From a rhetorical perspective, it's interesting to me that the actual name of this film is not The Butler, but Lee Daniels' The Butler. Apparently, this is one of Lee Daniels' schticks. Similarly, the official name of the movie Precious was actually Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.

When Lee Daniels' The Butler was released, there was a lot of buzz about the number of previous Oscar winners in it, and about Forest Whitaker's and Oprah Winfrey's performances, along with associated Oscar buzz, which is the kind of hype that makes me hope I won't be disappointed when I actually see it.

Here is a synopsis, from rottentomatoes.com:

LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER tells the story of a White House butler who served eight American presidents over three decades. The film traces the dramatic changes that swept American society during this time, from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond, and how those changes affected this man's life and family.

The official trailer:


My thoughts and observations about this movie:

  • It's conflict that makes a really good story, and this one is fraught with it, including:

    • Between (Cecil's sons) Louis and Charlie (their differing perspective on the Vietnam war, for one thing)

    • Between Cecil and his sons (the differences in all of their politics and levels of—and approaches to—activism)

    • Between Cecil and his wife, at times

    • Between what Cecil is thinking of the civil rights events going on outside the White House and what he is able to say (for the most part) about them inside the White House

    • Among the various class levels of the White House staff

  • Watching Cecil (Forest Whitaker's character, the protagonist) having to endure seeing a lot of things happening to "people like him," while being socially protected from those things himself, reminded me of many of my 35 years in the closet.

  • As is a common problem with historical recreations, there were characters who I wished better resembled (mostly physically) the people they were portraying.

  • In the end, I enjoyed this movie overall, but not as much as I wanted to. Some of the reasons are captured in this (long) review, "You Got Served: The limits of pulp in The Butler and Kick-Ass 2," by Wesley Morris.

Have you seen this movie? If so, what did you think of it?
 

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