I went to see the film The Butler last Friday. The movie is about Cecil Gaines and his family. Cecil Gaines worked as a butler at the White House for 30 years, serving every president from Truman to Reagan. Throughout the film we see the country changing, the White House staying the same, and a man trying to figure out where he belongs as black people get more and more rights. Here are my thoughts on the film:
- It is very rare that we see a quintessential American story that is fiercely patriotic with black people at its center, and that is exactly what The Butler is.
- Lee Daniels said that in making the film he intended to honor all of men and women who fought and did in the Civil Rights Movement. He definitely did that successfully.
- Lee Daniels is a superb director
- Oprah and Forest Whittaker had great chemistry
- This movie is an American history lesson about black people’s struggle for rights. It starts with sharecropping and goes to President Barack Obama’s first election. There is a lot of historic footage in the film, which enhances the message of the film, but takes away from the suspension of disbelief required to engage with the story.
- I think it may get some Oscar nods, but I won’t be hurt if it doesn’t. I know that for political reasons, if it doesn’t, people will cry racism. However, there are some movies coming out that look like they will be good. Plus, Fruitvale Station is already out, and I liked it more than I liked The Butler. Fruitvale Station is a more engaging and innovative film. The Butler aimed to evoke emotion from the audience, Fruitvale left the audience to their own devices.
- If any awards are to be had, they will likely go to Lee Daniels, Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whittaker, and whoever did the make-up/hair.