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Went to a test screening last night of The Butler...

And though it isn't perfect, it's far from an "instant camp classic" as described in another thread.

Spoilers inside.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 11501/20/2014

I trust Dick Morris more than this bitch.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 105/14/2013

How many Oscars will it win?

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 205/14/2013

Oprah crap fest. Would rather hear about Jake Gylenhaal and Chris Pine joining Depp and Streep in Into the Woods.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 305/14/2013

The Forrest Gump of racism.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 405/14/2013

The Weinsteins must have other Oscar bait on their shelves because I read that they are dumping this in August.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 505/14/2013

The test screening was held last night at a theater in Union Square.

I won't go overboard in my praise about this one although many of you seem to have gotten a kick out of it when I've done it in the past. This, however, is a beautifully directed film with an absolutely great cast from top to bottom. This will be THE film to beat for the SAG Awards for Best Cast of a Motion Picture. It will be remembered at Oscar time. It has flaws but no major ones. It's an intense emotional film which takes one man through decades serving US presidents. Forest Whitaker is wonderful as Cecil, a damaged soul whose childhood abruptly endedwhen his father was shot in the head in front of him. After a redemption scene a la Les Miserables (yes, I had to bring that one up) he works in a fancy hotel before becoming a member of the White House staff as a butler. He serves from the Eisenhower administration straight on through the Reagan administration. Throughout this time the civil rights movement is moving forward and his son Lewis is caught up in it to an extraordinary degree, even being one of the passengers on the Freedom Bus which was torched by the KKK. The relationship between Cecil and his wife Gloria (Oprah Winfrey) becomes affected both by his job and their son's involvement in the movement. Gloria has a drinking problem and ends up in an affair with a married neighbor (Terence Howard). The father and son become deeply estranged when Lewis joins the Black Panthers. The family relationships are the true core of this story, not his service in the White House.

There are many, many terrific performances in this. Whitaker is a tower of strength with an underlying rage which threatens to bubble up but rarely does due to the nature of his work. I was certainly not a fan of her work in The Color Purple but Oprah Winfrey is very affective as Gloria. She's beautifully directed by Lee Daniels. Is it an Oscar winning performance? Probably not. There is a long scene with her and the Terence Howard character which seems partly improvised which I could have done without. David Oyewolo is perfect as the son. It's actually astonishing how convincing he is as the teenage Lewis when Oyewolo is in his 30s. He ends up in his 60s by the end of the movie. Cuba Gooding Jr is excellent as a colleague at the White House (probable Oscar nomination for him). Lenny Kravitz is incredibly handsome, sweet and funny as another colleague. Among the presidents James Marsden is the real surprise as JFK. All the actors who play the presidents have very small roles but Marsden brings something very special and human to Jack. John Cusack is very good as Nixon-you easily understand why Cecil doesn't like him from when Tricky Dick was Eisenhower's VP.

I could have done without some of Whitaker's voice overs in the film. I don't think we need to know that that his heart was captured by the Kennedys. And although slavery was obviously a heinous system of persecution I just didn't care for Cecil equating plantations with concentration camps. There, I said it. Flame away.

The release date has been pushed forward from October to August. Good move. The Help, with which this film bears a certain resemblance, was also released in August. Both movies are sprawling, episodic stories of struggle and oppression. This one, I feel, is the stronger one in many ways. I think it will click with audiences and will serve to educate many about a very ugly chapter in our nation's history. The director Lee Daniels has delivered a knock-out of a movie and I'd be very surprised if it isn't appreciated and honored.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 605/14/2013

Rumor has it that Oprah will win Best Actress. Heard that from Harvey Weinstein.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 705/14/2013

Oh bless the lovely Lynn Stairmaster. I knew it would be her.

I want to know what those new Marion films are like so fill us in when you can!

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 805/14/2013

Yuck. Oprah improvising with Terrence Howard? You had me at goodbye. Pass. Nothing about Jane Fonda?

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 905/14/2013

[quote]This will be THE film to beat for the SAG Awards for Best Cast of a Motion Picture. It will be remembered at Oscar time.

Could we expect anything less from Lynn Stairmaster?

Remember: she told us not only that "les Miserables" would win at least fifteen Oscars, but that [bold]the child who played Gavroche[/bold]--!!!!!--would be nominated for an Oscar.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 1005/14/2013

Oh Lynn, you suck up harder than Nicole Kidman at Cannes. Did they give you the 75 dollars in a bag to post this?

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 1105/14/2013

You see why movie publicists keep inviting Lynn Stairmaster to these advance screenings: she immediately gets on the Internet afterwards and predicst that everyone in the film is going to be nominated for an Oscar.

Lynn, you are truly the movie publicist's #1 friend.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 1205/14/2013

If Oprah is the main selling point, this could bomb.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 1305/14/2013

LS, who plays Jackie HO? How was Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan?

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 1405/14/2013

What is Marion Cotillard going to win an Oscar for this year, Lynn?

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 1505/14/2013

Oh, how predictable some of you turned out to be right out of the starting gate. I actually think your boiling rage pointed at my direction might have something to do with the fact that I've happened to have had the opportunity to see the likes of W.E., Les Miserables and now this one months before the rest of you.

Oprah does a good job in the role, not a great job. She's effective. She doesn't tear your heart out the way that Viola Davis would have. But Daniels directs her extremely well. He's an amazing actor's director. I doubt Mo'Nique would have been as brilliant as she was in Precious without someone like Daniels guiding her. Winfrey is a non-actor but her lack of natural ability doesn't stick out as awkwardly as it could and I'd give most of the credit to Daniels. She doesn't even deserve an Oscar nomination for her work in this but she might if there isn't a heavy competitive field. If she gets a slot over Marion Cotillard for The Immigrant or Blood Ties I will not be happy.. Hee hee, hah hah.

Someone I forgot to mention is the young man who plays the couple's younger son Charlie. We didn't get a cast crawl so I don't know what his name was but he was sensational. He brings humor (along with Cuba Gooding Jr) to the film which is desperately needed. He's only in two scenes but both of them are showstoppers.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 1605/14/2013

Does Jane Fonda open the goddamn door?

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 1705/14/2013


Jane Fonda is in only one small scene as Nancy Reagan, she asks Cecil to attend a state dinner with Gloria. We're meant to see it as a kind gesture at first yet we soon find out the Reagans only did it for show.

Melissa Leo (Mamie Eisenhower) has been cut from the film altogether.

Minka Kelly as Jacqueline Kenned has a few words to say but that's it. Jackie's quiet refusal to take off her blood-ostained clothing following her husband's assassination is a very good moment, though. I don't think a scene with Cecil reading a story to little Caroline was terribly necessary.

Robin Williams is just OK as Eisenhower, he has maybe two small scenes. Same with Alan Rickman as Reagan. The only ones who have relatively strong moments are Marsters as JFK, Cusack as Nixon and Liev Schreiber as LBJ. They skip Jimmy Carter although his portrait can be prominently seen at one point.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 1805/14/2013

Thanks Lynn - I'll look for this at WalMart.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 1905/14/2013

Lynne, I love your advance screening reports...even if you're more generous than Jeffrey Lyons in your critiques.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 2005/14/2013

Heh heh, thanks, R20.

I apologize for the typos above.

If I was a PR shill which some of you accuse me of being why would I criticize Winfrey's performance? I wouldn't. Harvey might get her a nomination (and it should be for Best Supporting Actress) but she won't win. No way.

Mariah Carey plays Cecil's mother who is raped by Thomas, the plantation owner at the beginning of the film. He is played by the impossibly gorgeous Alex Pettyfer. Carey never says a word, her character is catatonic following the rape. Vanessa Redgrave has a few good moments as Thomas' mother who teaches little Cecil to read but is not exactly a warm and fuzzy grandmotherly type.

It must be stressed that the scenes of young Lewis participating in the civil rights movement are harrowing. There's a particularly difficult to watch sequence in which a group of black students sit at the counter of a diner and are attacked for not sitting in the Negro section. But these sequences are expertly directed and not excessive.. I shudder to think what Spike Lee would have done with this material.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 2105/14/2013

[quote]I actually think your boiling rage pointed at my direction

More like mild and bemused disdain.

[quote]might have something to do with the fact that I've happened to have had the opportunity to see the likes of W.E., Les Miserables and now this one months before the rest of you


*wipes tears of joy away from eye*

Oh yeah, we all wanted to see "W.E." so desperately!!!

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 2205/14/2013

Uhhh, yeah, you did, R22, because it was directed by Madonna.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 2305/14/2013

There is a very famous casting director called Lynn Stalmaster (a man, not a woman) -- maybe some of you here knew that, but it was news to me when I happened to read something about him the other day. I always wondered why DL's Gene Shalit referred to him/herself as Lynn Stairmaster...

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 2405/14/2013

How would Mariah Carey and Alex Pettyfer have a child that looks like Forest Whitaker? Hell, MC and Nick Cannon didn't have children that look like FW. Or is it just a random rape scene and not Cecil's conception?

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 2505/14/2013

[quote]Uhhh, yeah, you did, [R22], because it was directed by Madonna.

Oh, honey, [italic]no.[/italic] Not even the slightest bit.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 2605/14/2013

This sounds like a terrible t.v. movie! Oprah is not getting my $12.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 2705/14/2013

Is Oprah a lead or a supporting?

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 2805/14/2013

R25, Thomas the plantation owner isn't Cecil's dad. His father is shot dead by Thomas.

Sorry to disappoint but Pettyfer doesn't show any skin in this. I sure wish Lenny Kravitz did because that is one beautiful man.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 2905/14/2013

Did Lee Daniels get to fuck Alex Pettyfer? That's the only way that no-talent can get cast these days.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 3005/14/2013


please answer my question!!

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 3105/14/2013

Lynn, I HATE your taste in film. You are so off on every single one of your reviews, at least to me. But I LOVE your pluck! You just keep on coming here and begging to be picked. I would so want to have a drink with you, just not see a movie after.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 3205/14/2013

[quote]Carey never says a word, her character is catatonic following the rape.

Ugh! Who'd want to even have consensual sex with Mariah, let alone rape her? Couldn't they find someone a little more attractive for the role?

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 3305/14/2013

[quote]He's an amazing actor's director. I doubt Mo'Nique would have been as brilliant as she was in Precious without someone like Daniels guiding her.

Holy shit, apparently you haven't seen "Shadowboxer" or the embarrassing performances of "The Paperboy". Mo'Nique's performance was courtesy of Mo'Nique.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 3405/15/2013

MELISSA LEO - CUT FROM FILM? . That was a performance I was looking forward to seeing.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 3505/15/2013

I laughed at r17 - but isn't that Mary Fisher (She-Devil)?

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 3605/15/2013

R32, you sound like someone I'd want to have a drink with, too. I don't know if it's "pluck" that brings me back here to express my views on films I've seen at test screenings, though. I really do enjoy the attacks on some level, they can be quite amusing.

M, you have nothing to worry about re: Oprah. I haven't seen August: Osage County yet but I sense your performance in it will blow everybody else away, including my beloved Marion.

R34, your post makes no sense.

Good catch, R24. Lynn Stalmaster was THE casting director back in the day.

Back to The Butler-another performance to single out is Yaya Alafia (sp?) as Carol Hammie, the love interest of Lewis. Carol's exquisitely pretty but also has intelligence and, uhh, pluck. She endures several hideous experiences while participating in civil rights exercises and ends up being radicalized. She looks like Angela Davis if she was hot. There is a FABULOUS scene where Oprah's character Gloria calls her a low-class bitch for belching at the dinner table. And Gloria then smacks her son Lewis for calling Sidney Poitier an Uncle Tom. That is one great scene.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 3705/15/2013

Yes, Mary Fisher.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 3805/15/2013

Oprah is getting the Oscar, I just have that feeling.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 3905/15/2013

Wait, wait, wait...MINKA KELLY is playing JACKIE O?!??!

I can't fucking wait to see this. If it's anything less than the new Showgirls, I'll be bitterly disappointed.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 4005/15/2013

Not when I have Grace of Monaco out Dec. 27. I am the only one of Kevin's Angels who actually blows Harvey. Kisses from Cannes, Nicole

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 4105/15/2013

I heard from someone close to the production that the film has been scoring through the roof at these test screenings. And that Oprah is amazing in it.

With Harvey steering the ship, I bet she gets an Oscar nom.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 4206/02/2013

Oprah and Meryl are winning the Oscars. You can call it in June.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 4306/02/2013

Will this be released in 3-D? Since Oprah is in it.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 4406/02/2013

Viola IS getting The Oscar for Never Back Down...

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 4506/02/2013

I forgot to mention the wonderful performance of Clarence Williams III in this. The role is comparatively tiny but his character is enormously touching. The sequence in which this old man shows kindness and forgiveness to the young version of the protagonist is somewhat reminiscent of Les Miserables-you'll know what I mean when you see it.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 4606/05/2013

Lynn, are you really trying to lord it over us, bragging that you get to see crapfests like W.E. and Les Miserables months before most of us never see them? You couldn't pay me enough.

Surely there are more dignified ways to make a living?

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 4706/05/2013

Oh, dear, R47. I hope you get some rest tonight. You clearly need it.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 4806/05/2013

Oprah looks like a fat slug these days. She could barely fit in her seat the other night at THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 4906/05/2013

I fucking HATE movies like this...bloated, hamfisted OBVIOUS tear jerking morality play smug self important DRECK.

Shit like this, or that STOOOPID piece of shit with Halle Berry and Tom Hanks, or whatever fucking overblown bullshit with the trailer that features all these HUUUGE stars (usually turning their heads to the camera in a montage with swelling strings wringing every last bit of schmaltz out of the room) and that guy with the deep voice saying something pithy like "In a world where white folks run things, this stoic black guy shows all the shallow white people what real depth and meaning is, and makes all the white people realize how shitty they are...from the producers of other bloated horrible shit comes a story of redemption, renewal and REGURGITATED FUCKING SAME OLD SAME OLD FROM LAST FUCKING YEAR AND EVERY GODDAMN DRIVING MISS DAISY CORA CORA THE HELP somebody had to give Oprah her OSCAR CRAP movie that NO ONE wants to see because it's so FUCKING DEPRESSING and boring and EARNEST.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 5006/05/2013

Lynn, so would you say Mariah Carey isn't very good in this movie? I'm shocked to hear that she gets raped in the movie. Do you see that scene?

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 5106/21/2013

From what I've seen in the trailer, The Butler looks extremely trite. JFK is portrayed in a heroic light while Richard Nixon is the devil incarnate.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 5206/21/2013

This thread would be pathetically hilarious if it weren't so tragic.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 5306/21/2013

Mariah Carey is only in the first five minutes or so. Her character gets dragged into a shack by Alex Pettyfer's character and raped. The rape apparently renders her mute. Her husband protests and he gets shot in the head. The son leaves the plantation and we never see her or even hear about her again. She had a far more significant role in Daniels' Precious. I'm sure she just did this cameo as a favor to him.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 5406/22/2013

Oh my god, that rape scene with Mariah sounds horrible!

Ugh, I hope she at least did a decent job with a scene like that. Actors who don't pull off rape scenes well can just RUIN a traumatic scene like that

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 5506/26/2013

Sorry, Creshal, the rape scene occurs off-screen.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 5606/27/2013

Damn, and I was going to replay that scene over and over, like Goldie Hawn replaying Meryl's death scene in "Death Becomes Her".

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 5706/28/2013

Sounds like a crappy OWN or Lifetime movie.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 5806/28/2013

It's not crappy.

I was at the premiere tonight.

Oprah will be remembered at Oscar time.

And Lynn Stairmaster is right: the actor plays Charlie steals his scenes.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 5908/05/2013

And although slavery was obviously a heinous system of persecution I just didn't care for Cecil equating plantations with concentration camps.

Slavery was completely horrible but please! people in concentration camps in the Holocaust saw their babies being thrown into the air, and used as target practice, they used the hair of the dead for stuffing for pillows, made soap from the fat of the skin of the bodies,etc. One of those who are in charge of the camps in World War 2 requested skin with tattoos on them because his wife collected them and made lamp shades out of them. A lady who they called the Bitch of Buchwald was a wife of one of the generals who ran a concentration camp. She was extremely ruthless to the point that she had fingers from dead bodies to be used as light switches.And she rode on her horse to see who looked in her direction so she could send that person to his or her death. she love to see people tortured.

The camps in Eastern Europe in the 90s the people were tortured with mind boggling ways.

Again, I am fully aware the slaves went through a lot, and I have read a lot on American slavery and it's truly awful,but there is no comparison to the concentration camps of World War 2 and many others. I'm getting so tired of movies which there is a constant message how rotten white people are. Oprah is a billionaire, Forrest Whittaker is a successful actor, we have the first black president in the White House, we have many African American congress men and women,and in the president's cabinet, and the list goes on and on. White people did play a big role making these people successful, and placed in power positions, good grief!

BTW, I think it is over the top Forrest Whittaker hair is done like Obama's when Forrest is playing someone who worked in the White House through the 50s to the 80s.

NO! I'm not a Repub! No I'm not a Frau.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 6008/06/2013

I disagree re: Oprah, R59, but nice to see we agree re: the young man who plays Charlie. He really is exceptional in this.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 6108/06/2013

so is Melissa Leo as Mamie Eisenhower in the movie or was she cut out? and if so was Oprah scared Melissa might win another OSCAR? i for one am only going to watch The Butler for Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 6208/14/2013

Went to a Bafta screening last week. Very good. Not perfect, but enjoyable. It'll be a best picture contender. Oprah was terrific. So was Forest Whitaker. Great ensemble cast and fun cameos for the presidents and wives. Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan. Genius.

I'd recommend it.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 6308/14/2013

hey R63 was Melissa Leo as Mamie Eisenhower in the movie? she would of had scenes with Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower i looked up her IMDb page and she is no longer listed as having appeared in The Butler

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 6408/14/2013

[quote]And Lynn Stairmaster is right: the actor plays Charlie steals his scenes.

You're aware that's not a good thing, aren't you?

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 6508/14/2013

So how did Lynn like "August: Osage County"

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 6608/14/2013

I just can't believe that anyone would think this affected persona was witty, funny, or captivating in any way. You sound like a fucking idiot. The end.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 6708/14/2013

so was Melissa Leo cut from the movie?

anyone who saw it know?

please. thank you.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 6808/14/2013

Rave review in the New York Times.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 6908/15/2013

Can't believe anybody gave Daniels money to make a movie after the debacle of "The Paperboy". I like campy/bad films, but this one was so poorly made I couldn't even get through it.

Though some of the blame could be put on the casting. Kidman dusts off her "To Die For" character 20 yeas later and adds a suthun accent. McConnaughey does the same character he always does. Efron, despite a gym body and a handsome face, is always oddly unsexy (risque' scenes are squirmy- you just want them to end).

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 7008/15/2013

Here's the NY Times rave.

Suck it, haters.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 7108/15/2013

I hope this movie tanks big time because there are nothing but complete assholes who are in this cast. besides, they said it is loosely based on this butler's story. Rent, Backstairs at the White House. It is a true story of a black maid who worked at the White House practically her whole life. Also, the cast is phenomenal and there are no agenda's behind this story. It is told like it was period. I plan to buy a copy of this miniseries.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 7208/15/2013

Big Woo R71, NY Times is so PC that they don't even report what they really think about the film because it's about an African American and a large part of the cast are African American.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 7308/15/2013

[quote]Melissa Leo (Mamie Eisenhower) has been cut from the film altogether.

That's got to be a plus. I can't even begin to imagine her in that role.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 7408/15/2013

R6, thank you very much. Yours is one of the best posts I've read on DL, ANYwhere. Thanks for summarizing the film very well; I especially appreciate 'cause I won't be able to see (health;transportation; long story) until someday on video (I realize is quicker than I think! -yes, I'm old.)

I have perhaps a BIT of a problem off the bat with, "...Oprah...affair...Terence Howard..."(??!! does she look especially good in this film??)

And wow, I'M surprised to picture James Marsden as JFK??! (have to get "Hop" - which I actually liked - out of my mind, hee-hee!)

Sounds good!

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 7508/15/2013

Okay - no one has mentioned that just maybe the prevailing mood/subconcious of the country/filmgoers is going to be ramped up a bit, seeing this film, by the Trayvon Martin killing/murdered getting off free? Anyone???

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 7608/15/2013

[quote]Ms. Winfrey, meanwhile, demonstrates that, in addition to being the most famous and powerful woman in the world, she is a fine character actor.)

P.S. that is how those of us in the film business say someone is fat....."character actor"

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 7708/15/2013

It just sounds like audience repellent.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 7808/15/2013

True dat, r73. NYT wouldn't dare criticize it.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 7908/15/2013

It seems that "The Butler" will win every Oscar award.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 8008/15/2013

[quote]every Oscar award.

English is not r80's first language

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 8108/15/2013

I will look for it on my next flight.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 8208/15/2013

Oprah's corset to win Best Visual Effects!!!!!

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 8308/15/2013

The Washington Post gives The Butler 2 stars, this doesn't look good.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 8408/15/2013

Racism!!!! Racism!!!!!=The Washington Post

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 8508/15/2013

The film critic for NPR's "Morning Edition" wasn't impressed by The Butler. Though he didn't say "Don't go," he got close to saying that.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 8608/16/2013

I think it's tragic that Jimmy Carter was skipped over! But I do understand it in light of the terrible casting conflict that arose. I have it on good authority, Jimmy insisted Jeff Bridges play him, and then Rosalyn got very mean and insisted that she would play herself opposite Jeff Bridges, and then Jeff Bridges said he was busy playing with Ryan Reynolds and was unavailable.

At one point, Rosalyn threatened to divorce Jimmy, but they increased the dosage on her meds and she's doing fine. Jimmy, of course is still hurt and disappointed. He refused to comment when they found him at the airport heading out to Dafur to build houses. Without Rosalyn. There'll be more on this item later...

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 8708/16/2013

I was very underwhelmed. The script and direction are very choppy as the movie bumps along from big event to big event; yes, there are a couple of good moments -- I loved the crosscutting between a White House dinner and a Woolworth's protest -- but they are few and far between. Forest Whitaker is good, David Oyelowo is terrific as the rebellious son, but Oprah Winfrey is laughably bad -- more Razzie-worthy than Oscar-worthy. Though, as far as bad acting goes, she gets a run for her money with John Cusack's hilariously awful Richard Nixon.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 8808/17/2013

it sucks

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 8908/17/2013

R88, our opinions could hardly be more different. I enjoyed the movie in spite of myself. I really didn't want to see it, but my partner did... so I went.

I'm surprised how moving it was. I was bawling at the end. And Oprah is really good -- much better than in Color Purple. And I hated the crosscutting between the state dinner and the lunch counter -- just too heavy handed. My favorite scenes were the intimate family stuff -- black middle class social life. The parties, the food, the music. They were authentic and fresh. All the black actors are great. The white actors... eh... not so much. Jane Fonda is perfect. Vanessa Redgrave delivers. But the rest are pretty bad, some laughably so. There's a young black actor named Elijah Kelley who plays the younger son. He's amazing. Just a couple scenes, but he really is good and very memorable.

It's a good history lesson too. Most of it I knew from Garrow's MLKing autobiography, but it's always good to be reminded.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 9008/17/2013

I still remember those two main scenes in which Elijah Kelley appears. Damn, he's talented. You really do find yourself sitting up and thinking "Who the hell is he?" Talk about a scene-stealer.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 9108/17/2013

I root for Lee Daniels. How many gays and/or blacks ever earn a platform as he has?

But, his movies are often terrible, often after the fact. He tackles such high minded issues and topics that the movies sometimes initially seem good or "important" but after a while (sometimes months down the road), you realize how much the movie sucked. Also, there's usually some genuinely great performances (often among laughably bad performances) which detracts from how bad the movie is.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 9208/17/2013

Hated this movie with a passion.

The only thing I liked was the torture of Mariah Carey in the first 5 minutes. Someone should do that to her in real life and get her off her high horse. And she gets third billing. Give me a break.

If a white director made this movie, Spike Lee would have decried the glossing over of black history for the highlights that is by now just buzzwords.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 9309/10/2013


by Lynn Stairmasterreply 9409/10/2013

Four Historians Take On 'The Butler's' Racist Depiction of Reagan

By: Courtney Coren

Four Ronald Reagan historians have slammed the portrayal of former President Reagan in the movie "The Butler," saying that the 40th president's "attitudes toward race" as shown in the movie are inaccurate.

They begin the article, "What 'The Butler' gets wrong about Ronald Reagan and race," published in The Washington Post, by recounting instances in Reagan's life when he decried racism and took a stand for the African-American community.

While serving as president of the Screen Actors Guild, for example, "Ronald Reagan called upon the entertainment industry to provide greater employment for black actors." That position was controversial at the time.

When giving his infamous "evil empire" speech in March 1983 against the Soviet Union, Reagan also attacked the "the resurgence of some hate groups preaching bigotry and prejudice" in America.

These examples came after the historians recount the time when young Reagan brought two African American football teammates home from college to spend the night with his family.

That is hardly the "sense" of Reagan that one gets from the Lee Daniels film the historians explain.

The four historians, who have more than a dozen Reagan biographies between them, are Stephen F. Hayward, whose books include "The Age of Reagan"; Paul Kengor, author of 2007's "The Crusader"; Craig Shirley, who wrote last year's "Rendezvous With Destiny" and the 2005 book "Reagan's Revolution"; and Kiron K. Skinner who has compiled several books on Reagan's life including "Reagan's Path to Victory."

They say they are concerned "by the movie's portrayal of Reagan's attitudes toward race."

"We are especially concerned because many Americans readily accept Hollywood depictions of history as factual," they add.

"The Butler" is loosely based on the life of Eugene Allen, an African American who worked as a butler in the White House under eight presidents and resigned during Reagan's tenure. Allen's character is named Cecil Gaines in the movie.

The quartet of historians are mainly concerned about two instances they say are inaccurately portrayed in the movie, which has topped the box office ratings for the past two weeks.

The first is when Gaines, played by Forest Whitaker, is given a personal invitation to attend a state dinner, but he is seen feeling very uncomfortable because "he feels he's being used as a political tool, a prop, a token African American."

It is not long after this that he resigns from his position at the White House because of "supposed humiliation" at the event.

However, the Religion News Service said Allen "was especially fond of the Reagans," and a fellow member of Allen's church said that the butler "often talked about how nice they were to him." The historians point out while it is true that Allen left his position during the Reagan presidency, but it was on good terms and "he received a 'sweet note' from the president and a hug from the first lady."

The other instance takes place when Reagan promises to "veto any sanctions against South Africa." The Republican congresswoman meeting with him pleads with him over the matter saying that it is right thing to do and congressional Republicans are in agreement. The supposed reason for Reagan's refusal to support sanctions against the racist government is that he is "apparently unsympathetic to black suffering."

"While accurate in depicting Reagan's opposition to sanctions against South Africa, 'The Butler' does not explain why he opposed them," the historians write. "Reagan saw sanctions as harmful to the poorest of South Africans: millions of blacks living in dire poverty. He also feared that the apartheid regime could be replaced by a Marxist government allied with the Soviet Union and Cuba and that communism would spread throughout the continent.

"South African blacks were denied rights under apartheid

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 9509/11/2013

With all these year end lists and critics group, The Butler seems to get lost in the shuffle. Oprah's Oscar chances are falling away to a young black woman more talented than her.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 9612/09/2013

I wouldn't count O down for the count just yet. Plus she (and the movie) have Harvey behind her.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 9712/09/2013

Hoping that Oprah is finished.

Guess we'll get some idea of what might happen at the SAG awards.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 9812/09/2013

By rights Lupita should have a straight shot at a nomination and eventual win, but 12 Years a Slave seems to be losing a bit of steam. The recent critics awards overlooked it. I think everything is a toss up at this point.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 9912/09/2013

I think 12 years a Slave was overpraised because The Butler made it look better than it actually is. I wasn't impressed with Fruitvale Station or Blue is the Warmest Color either...

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 10012/09/2013

Butler is completely out of the running. Lynn Faildisaster flops again.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 10112/09/2013

No, it's not, R101.

SAG nominations are tomorrow, right? And Golden Globe nominations Thursday? The Butler will definitely score nominations this week from both.

And it will probably win the SAG Award for Best Cast of a Motion Picture.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 10212/09/2013

I really liked it. IMO, it's simply more than the sum of it's parts. For some reason it works. The president characters are fairly bad. The eldest son's story is pretty ridiculous in terms of being conveniently the exact opposite of the father's situation - proud civil rights activist vs. demure Butler hardly questions the establishment.

But, again, it works. Good film. Really wondering if it will get Oscars. I think it's great, but not sure it's Oscar-caliber when you break it down. But, should you break it down, or just take it as a whole?

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 10312/09/2013


Thurs- GG

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 10412/09/2013

The only SAG nomination it will get will be for Oprah, and she won't win. The Best Ensemble award will go to American Huistle, not 12 Years a Slave.

The Golden Globes may be nicer to the Butler since they have 10 lead acting and Pictures nominees.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 10512/10/2013

No r102. Not happening anywhere other than your fantasy world. The Butler is forgotten.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 10612/10/2013

It was re-released this past Friday in a few theaters, including two in Manhattan and several in the boroughs and suburbs.

I'm glad they did that, because I got to see it for myself and think it was very good -- not the best picture of the year but in the top ten.

I also liked the wide scope of the movie -- from the 1920's to the 1980's and I thought the message was delivered with appropriate weight but didn't sledgehammer it over our heads.

We have seen massive changes in this nation over the decades of the 20th century and the movie ably portrayed them.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 10712/10/2013

R105, the SAG Award is for Best Cast of a Motion Picture, not Ensemble. And I'll be very surprised if The Butler's wonderful, diverse cast isn't nominated tomorrow.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 10812/10/2013

Told ya so. And it will probably win the SAG Award for Outstanding Cast, too. Whitaker doesn't have a chance.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 10912/11/2013

Oprah has to get nominated, I'm betting big bucks on it!

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 11012/11/2013

She did, R110, but she won't win. The cast has an excellent chance of winning. It will be interesting to see how many of them will show up at the awards. Will Jane Fonda? She only has one line in the movie.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 11112/11/2013

"All my life I had to fight. I had to fight my daddy. I had to fight my uncles. I had to fight my brothers. A girl child ain't safe in a family of men, but I ain't never thought I'd have to fight in my own house!"

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 11212/12/2013

The snub of Oprah is perfectly appropriate. She gives a good performance in The Butler but hardly an outstanding one.

And I continue to think her performance in The Color Purple was downright bad. Sofia's "rise from the dead" scene at the dinner table is wince-inducing.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 11312/12/2013

Finally watched this via a SAG-AFTRA DVD screener. I will definitely be voting for this for Best Cast of a Motion Picture. I was pleasantly surprised by Winfrey-I thought she was better than just good this time and I suspect it's to do with the editing. In the DVD extras Daniels tells Winfrey to stop moving her shoulders in a scene, to remain completely motionless. So I believe her "improved" performance from test screening to final release is primarily a result of good direction and editing.

I remember making a comment in the form we filled out at the test screening back in April regarding Howard, the adulterous neighbor played by Terence Howard. In one scene there was a mention of a local guy who'd been shot to death after being caught in bed with someone's wife. I'd assumed it was Howard but then he turned up for at least one more scene afterward. In the finished film it IS Howard who ended up being shot to death. I somehow doubt I was the only one to bring up the confusion I felt.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 11412/31/2013

I finally saw this tonight, and I wasn't terribly impressed. I was relieved to learn that the main character was only very loosely based on a real White House butler (by a different name), because there was just way too much credibility-straining going on. His oldest son just happens to be in virtually EVERY situation important to African-American history during the 1960s (including being in Martin Luther King's Memphis motel room when he was killed, and having just seen Malcolm X speak before he was killed)? Also, it was a mistake using well-known actors to play the Presidents.

As for Oprah, the only reason people talked about the possibility of her getting an Oscar nomination was name recognition. If the role had been played exactly the same way by an unknown actor, there's no way there would be awards talk. The character as written seemed to be supposed to be a force of nature, but Oprah played her as fairly mousy. I saw that as a lack of confidence in her acting. She wasn't nearly big enough.

by Lynn Stairmasterreply 11501/20/2014
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