Title: Lee Daniels’ The Butler Director: Lee Daniels Year: 2013 Run time: 2hrs 12m
“Lee Daniels’ epic drama tells the story of the White House butler Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), who serves during seven presidential administrations between 1957 and 1986. Through the eyes and emotions of the Gaines family, Daniels’ film follows the changing tides of American politics and race relations; from the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, to the Freedom Riders and Black Panther movements, to the war in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal, Cecil experiences the effects of these events as both an insider and a family man.”
2:07 - Is that what cotton looks like on the plant? Just like a cotton ball? 7:26 - Was that actual Mariah Carey? What a weird casting. 10:04 - Broke in, stole the food, asks for a job. Gotta catch a break somehow. 12:03 - Highfaluting is an excellent word. 17:28 - “We have no tolerance for politics at the White House.” 26:28 - President Robin Williams. 29:35 - The door in the White House looks like the wall and disappears when it closes. I would never be able to find my way out again. 36:46 - My god this film is filled with food. Every scene, practically! 40:29 - The multiple fork situation must be really bad at the White House. 44:54 - Was that a glimpse of real footage? Awful. 47:23 - “He crazy like his mama. I meant that in a good way!” 58:50 - It’s not the hardest role for Ms Oprah. Mostly drinking and smoking. 1:09:59 - Dr King. It sounds odd without the other names attached. 1:19:40 - “The whole world was changing and I didn’t know where I fit in.” 1:21:45 - That’s an incredible afro the girl has. 1:26:11 - Totally know the Black Panther’s from Forrest Gump. Which is where all my cultural knowledge comes from. 1:27:22 - “You fight your country. I fight for my country.” 1:35:20 - I knew that kid was being too nice. Always happens. 1:46:48 - Love him telling Lenny Kravitz to shut up. 1:51:34 - I think this is the epitome of a sad realisation.
We only ever got halfway through the trailer for this one, knowing that it looked like a good film with a pretty stellar cast, and not wanting to spoil the rest of the film.
I didn’t realise it was based on a true story until it started, and it was kinda hard to believe it was… because all the way through the film, it was like watching a different version of Forrest Gump. Which I’m reliably informed isn’t a true story.
It’s the length of time Cecil serves that boggles the mind, seeing all those Presidents come and go. It also makes the film itself very long, which isn’t so good, and stacked full of famous faces who are only in it briefly. I mean, Mariah Carey, blink and you’ll miss her!
Overall, I liked it, but it wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped. The sound mixing felt odd to me, and I was straining to hear the dialogue over the music on occasion. A great story, highlighting some of the horrors of the past, with a strong cast. That’s good enough for me.