'The Butler' 'serves' history to viewers
Siarre Evans, this week's A-Sun Player of the Week, crosses over in a game last year. The Lady Bucs are tied for first place in the A-Sun with Jacksonville. Travis Brown /East Tennessean
Lee Daniels' "The Butler," while taking liberties from the original source, is a commendable effort as a whole with Forest Whitaker's arresting performance as a subtle, understated White House butler in a more grounded light.
"The Butler" stands as a testament to race- and history-oriented films that do not dwell on fantasy.
The film reflects much of the butler's years working since childhood to an elderly age and it reflects his life in motion with his alcoholic, disenchanted wife (Oprah Winfrey), his rebellious son who joins the Black Panthers and demonstrates at sit-ins (David Oyelowo), and his youngest, questioning son who goes to Vietnam (Elijah Kelley).
It was interesting to watch this fictionalized persona, Cecil Gaines (Whitaker), based on the real-life Eugene Allen, play it so good-to-the-bone that there is an inner sadness and melancholy in his character. Amid the rebellion and negligence, he still remains strong-minded and has a good will, something that is relatively important for audiences to watch and discover.
The film also gets even better with some comic relief provided by Cuba Gooding Jr. and musician Lenny Kravitz who both played White House servers as well as Terrence Howard playing a smarmy, perverted neighbor.
In addition, the cameos shown in the film may be stereotypical, but it is relatively humanizing and interesting to watch Liev Schreiber playing a cantankerous Lyndon B. Johnson and Alan Rickman playing Ronald Reagan.
Much of the set designs, cinematography and editing are well done within the constraints of the budget. Unfortunately, the film suffers a bit with a slightly simplistic narrative.
There is also a missing scene in the trailer involving Black Panthers shooting at the police.
The film's PG-13 rating restrained from showing some of the horrors and carnage of both whites and blacks amid segregation.
The film ended vaguely and controversially. While a political piece, it could've been better.
As a film, it was satisfying and it didn't falter in the cracks like Oliver Stone's "W." or "Dr. Strangelove" - both are largely political satires meshed with oblique and rather dull narratives.
Many young people will be able to understand its themes and ideas without being bored by the history of it all, especially with the rebellious son and his struggle to develop his identity.
Without remorse, the film is tough material, but it is important on several levels.
Unfortunately, the state of affairs today is a result of much chaos, whether it is identity, race, economic status, culture or labor.
For many people of minority who watch the film, a lot of questions will be raised which may lead to either doubt or hope for the future. Although for now, it is an uncertain one.
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
From Around the Web
More easttennessean News Articles
Recent easttennessean News Articles
Discuss This Article
MOST POPULAR EASTTENNESSEAN
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER
LATEST EASTTENNESSEAN NEWS
- ETSU screening travelers to countries with known Ebola outbreaks
- ETSU appoints director of Veterans Affairs
- Organizers finalize Sex Week preparations
- ‘Selma’ mirrors controversies in modern America
- Johnson City Community Theatre will hold auditions for RENT Feb. 15 and 16
- Women’s Studies announces spring Women on Wednesdays lineup
- Lady Bucs conquer Lady Terriers, 69-47
RECENT EASTTENNESSEAN CLASSIFIEDS
FROM AROUND THE WEB
- Workers Say a Good Cup of Coffee Can Make Entire Workday...
- Fresh Fruit Delivers Fun and Nutrition
- Say No to the Knife: Reduce the Likeliness Of Surgery...
- Give Your Kitchen a New Look With a Lighting Update
- Garden Project Spreads Its Roots in Urban Areas
- The Need for Voluntary Insurance Is on the Rise
- How to Be More Productive During Your Business Flights
- It's Never too Late to Start Living Healthy
- Revive tus objetivos de verte saludable en 2015
- Debunking Common Tax-Filing Myths