Google+

Forest Whitaker Shines in Biopic about Butler Who Served Eight Presidents

 

Lee Daniels’ The Butler

DVD Review by Kam Williams

 

Eugene Allen (1919-2010) served eight presidents over the course of an enduring career in the White House during which he rose from the position of Pantry Man to Head Butler by the time he retired in 1986. In that capacity, the African-American son of a sharecropper felt privileged to be an eyewitness to history, since his tenure coincided with the implementation of most of the landmark pieces of legislation dismantling the Jim Crow system of racial segregation.

Directed by two-time Oscar-nominee Lee Daniels, The Butler is a father-son biopic relating events in Allen’s life as they unfolded810aVoqiI9L._SL1500_ against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. This fictionalized account features Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker in the title role as Cecil Gaines, and his A-list supporting cast includes fellow Oscar-winners Cuba Gooding, Jr., Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Williams and Melissa Leo, as well as nominees Terrence Howard and Oprah Winfrey.

The point of departure is a plantation in the Deep South, where Cecil witnesses his father’s (David Banner) murder on the cotton field for protesting his mother’s (Mariah Carey) rape at the hand of an overseer. Because the perpetrator was never brought to justice, the youngster gets the message at an early age that “Any white man could kill us at any time and not be punished for it.”

Eager to avoid the same fate as his dad, he skips town as a teenager, settling in Washington, DC where he lands steady work as a bartender in a hotel catering to an upscale clientele. There he also meets Gloria (Winfrey), the maid he would one day marry and start a family with.

Cecil’s sterling reputation as a polite and deferential black man eventually reaches the White House, where he takes a position on the express understanding that “You hear nothing. You see nothing. You only serve.” Although he manages to maintain an inscrutably apolitical façade on the job, the same can’t be said for the home front, where current events are freely debated.

There, Cecil finds himself increasingly at odds with his elder son, Louis (David Oyelowo), a civil rights activist inclined to participate in voter registration marches, sit-ins at segregated lunch counters and freedom bus rides. The simmering tension between the two builds over the years to the boiling point when Louis derisively refers to his as father an Uncle Tom.

At that juncture, Cecil’s protective spouse intervenes to slap her son before uttering the memorable line: “Everything you have, and everything you are, is because of that butler.” Kudos to Forest Whitaker for another nonpareil performance as a humble provider understandably reluctant to rock the boat.  Ditto Lee Daniels for crafting a gut-wrenching tour de force chronicling critical moments in the African-American fight for equality.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality, smoking, profanity, ethnic slurs, disturbing images and mature themes

Running time: 132 minutes

Distributor: Anchor Bay / The Weinstein Company

The Butler Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Deleted scenes; gag reel; The Original Freedom Riders; “You and I Ain’t Nothin’ No More” performed by Gladys Knight and Lenny Kravitz; and Lee Daniels’ The Butler: An American Story.

 

To see a trailer for The Butler, visit:

http://www.twcpublicity.com/video_popup.php?id=108

 

To order a copy of The Butler Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00EV4F5TC/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

 

 

,

Entertainment

Justice Denied Documentary Chronicles Racist Targeting of Chinese-American Bank

  Abacus: Small Enough to Jail Film Review by Kam Williams Justice Denied Documentary Chronicles Racist Targeting of Chinese-American Bank Asian-Americans are often referred to as the "model minority" because of their  success in the U.S. despite the existence of discrimination which has crippled other ethnic groups. However, the label has also led many a racist to misread Asian modesty as an invitation to treat them like … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Books

Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama

  Rising Star The Making of Barack Obama  by David J. Garrow William Morrow Hardcover, $45.00 1472 pages ISBN: 978-0-06-264183-0 Book Review by Kam Williams “Barack Obama's speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention instantly catapulted him into the national spotlight and led to his election four years later as America's first African-American president. In this penetrating biography, David J. Garrow delivers an epic work … [Read More its Good for You...]

Art

The Day After the Day Of

  The Day After the Day Of by Paul Ilechko   The sky sheds its tears. This morning is the morning of the day after. The day of mourning, the day after the day of.  I beseech the sky to shed tears in order to wash away the tears on my face.   This is the first day of the time after. This is the beginning of a new time, the days of pain, the days of sorrow. We are in mourning. The sky looks down and sheds its tears for … [Read More its Good For You...]

Real Estate

History Being Sold to the Highest Bidder

  History Being Sold to the Highest Bidder by Amy Lignor   For the longest time, scientists and archaeologists have been confused and bemused by various discoveries they’ve unearthed that offer little or no explanation as to the who, what, and why of the people who created these things or left them behind. Even now, in 2017, there are discoveries being studied; stories that were once legends now have actual bits of proof being found that … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Lifestyle

Stunning Stenberg!

  Amandla Stenberg The “Everything, Everything” Interview with Kam Williams Stunning Stenberg! Amandla Stenberg first gained recognition for her role as Rue in The Hunger Games, alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson. After the success of that film, Amandla earned the 2012 Teen Choice Award with Jennifer for Best Film Chemistry. She was also nominated for NAACP Image and Black Reel Awards for that … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

Finding Bass During a Mixed Spawn Season

  Finding Bass During a Mixed Spawn Season Yamaha Pro Mark Davis Offers Two Solutions For Catching Bass This Spring Warmer-than-normal winter temperatures have shuffled bass spawning schedules on many lakes throughout the country this spring, but Mark Davis has seen it before, and the veteran Yamaha Pro knows just how to approach the problem. “With the milder winter, bass began spawning much earlier than usual this year so when a … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

A Sport Where You Feel the Thrill Without Going to the Extreme

  A Sport Where You Feel the Thrill Without Going to the Extreme by Amy Lignor   There are many sports “fanatics” out there who literally dive head-first into an extreme sport in order to get their adrenaline pumping – taking on a sport that comes hand-in-hand with a monumental amount of risk. But for those who are not interested in being scared to death, yet wish to feel the thrill, data has shown that zip lining has become the … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

The Hottest Locales for Small Business in the U.S.

  The Hottest Locales for Small Business in the U.S. by Amy Lignor   No, Silicon Valley is not being replaced. However, with the Kauffman Foundation releasing its annual Startup Activity Index last week showing, in detail, trends in U.S. business startups for 2017, it was revealed that California has been booted out of first place. The top spot for new businesses to be built and thrive in the United States has been taken over by the big, … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

Once Upon a Time Vacations

  Once Upon a Time Vacations by Amy Lignor   Whether you are a lover of history or you simply have the “Beauty & the Beast” obsession – which, according to movie revenue data, millions all over the world are suffering from – just think how amazing it would be to stay in an actual castle. We already know what the beauty would be from the female perspective, but when it comes to the gentlemen out there, just think about how much … [Read More its Good for You...]

Green Living

Creating the Perfect Vegetable Garden

  Creating the Perfect Vegetable Garden by Amy Lignor   Many are still dealing with that wintery mix Mother Nature just loves to toss down from the sky this time of year. Yet, that gardener living inside the soul – the one just dreaming of the sunny skies and lazy rainy days that are must-haves in order to grow the best vegetables possible – is already jotting down the facts, tricks and tips they need to know in order to make that … [Read More its Good for You...]