Tag: David Oyelowo

The Butler

The full title of this movie, for legal reasons, is Lee Daniels’ The Butler, but eh, technicalities.

This film is supposed to be a biographical film of Eugene Allen, a butler who served in The White House for 34 years until he retired in 1984.

I’d say your best possible experience with this movie would be treating it like your average fictional film, set through a back drop of history, almost like Forrest Gump.

I hope you came here to see pictures of butlers.

Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) came from very humble beginnings in the 1920s. He was living with his family on a cotton plantation in horrible conditions. After his father gets shot and his mother goes a bit insane, he is trained to work in the house, to serve and to serve properly. Eventually he leaves the plantation, gets a job at a hotel, gets discovered, and finds himself as a butler at The White House.

Yeah, butlering at The White House is probably the sweetest gig out there. Unless you mess up, you have job security for 30-40 years.

While at The White House, Cecil finds himself interacting with decades of presidents. He is there for Dwight D. Eisenhower (Robin Williams, his second time as President), John F. Kennedy (James Marsden) and his wife Jacqueline (Minka Kelly), Lyndon B. Johnson (Liev Schreiber), Richard Nixon (John Cusack), and Ronald Reagan (Alan Rickman) with his wife Nancy (Jane Fonda). For you patriots out there, yes, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter just get kind of skipped.

During these years, Cecil also has to deal with his family life. His wife (Oprah Winfrey) has bouts of alcoholism, and depression due to her husbands long hours at work. Their youngest child, Charles (Elijah Kelley) eventually decides to join the army for the Vietnam War. Their other son, Louis (David Oyelowo) is able to graduate high school and go down to college in Tennessee. There, he meets other “radicals” who want equal rights. He begins to participate in sit ins, protests, becomes a Freedom Rider, a marcher on Washington DC, and a follower of Martin Luther King Jr. (Nelsan Ellis). Basically, he is there for all of the major civil rights events. Well, the ones that don’t involve sitting in the back of the bus.

Most of the movie involves splicing the civil rights movements through the eyes of the son, with the servitude of Cecil at the White House during these nation changing events.

In case you wanted more star power, fellow butlers are played by Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lenny Kravitz, while Terrence Howard plays his wise crackin’, woman lovin’ neighbor.

I tried to find a picture of each actor as a president. This will do.

Like everything in Hollywood, most of the movie is fictionalized away from the source. Like, Louis, the civil rights activist. He never existed. They only had one son, Charles (who actually did go to the Vietnam War!). So, half the movie right away is fictional. Sure, the events all happened, just the make believe son wasn’t a part of them.

While the butler in question did exist, he also probably didn’t have the small conversations about civil rights with the various Presidents, but they make the film a lot more interesting.

Despite it’s inaccuracies, The Butler is incredible. Over two hours long, it spanned decades of American history and put it in such a powerful context, that it is hard to not feel emotional over it.

All of it is very dramatic and very sad at times, but as you learn by the end of the film, the journey is totally worth it.

The acting is phenomenal on all parts. I am willing to bet Whitaker gets nominated for Best Actor in this film, and Oprah potentially Best Supporting Actress. The line up of presidents was hilarious in its own right. All of these big name actors getting to play a US president, but only for a small part in a movie. Heck, they had a British actor playing Reagan, even better!

I think The Butler is going to be one of the few stand out movies of the year when it comes for Best Picture consideration. Its treatment of racism in the United States is spot on and informative. I am most excited for Forest Whitaker though, who has been in some less than great roles recently. Hopefully this gets him back on the right path again, like when he did The Last King Of Scotland.

4 out of 4.

The Paperboy

Who doesn’t have fond memories playing Paperboy as a kid?

Oh wait, shit, I don’t. Huh. I never had that game. Ever. Or tried to play it. I think it involved throwing newspapers in mailboxes or porches, getting chased by assholes and dogs. Sounds about right. Either way, my intro has failed me.

Oh right, The Paperboy. some movie, based on a fictional book, and maybe creepy.

paper fronn
Zac Efron doing his best to not get type-casted is pretty dang creepy.

In this movie, there was a racist and bad sheriff, who got murdered. No one really liked him, but Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack) was sent to prison regardless.

Years later, a local paper is trying to prove his innocence. We have the brothers, Ward (Matthew McConaughey) and Jack Jansen (Zac Efron) and a black British man, Yardley Acheman (David Oyelowo), all working on the case! I should probably mention this is also during the civil rights movement during the 1960s, which is why his Britishness matters.

But they have an additional ally. Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman), Hillary’s wife. Yes, Hillary is a man. Kidman is white trash, yes, but she can let them get to Hillary, who for some reason doesn’t give a shit that he is in prison. Minus the fact that he misses dat body.

Either way, lots of dramatic shit happens, they might succeed, and other bad things might happen as well. Of course Jack also falls in love with Charlotte. Because that leads to drama. Oh, Macy Gray is also the narrator and a maid.

paper mannn
‘Fierce’ – A new perfume by Kidman

Well, this movie probably gets my “Weird movie of the week” award. It was eerie and strange to watch it, but it was hard to actually point out why.

Definitely a slow going movie, where everything is done for a reason. I found it a bit hard to follow the story, was a bit disjointed in the beginning. John Cusack definitely played a role like I have never seen before. Like a deranged Earl.

The real star of this movie is Nicole Kidman. She acted the fuck out of this movie, and she is the best part. But the eeriness and strange story kind of put me off, not to mention the slow moving plot points. Eventually on youtube will be a compilation of Kidman’s best scenes from the movie, and you should watch that. The actual movie itself? Up for debate, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

1 out of 4.

Jack Reacher

I found myself disappointed again, going to the theaters to see another movie based off of a literary character I had never heard of before. The first teaser trailer for Jack Reacher I actually enjoyed, despite the silly title. But hey, some author gave him that crappy name, so that is what they are stuck with. But once I got the full trailer for Jack Reacher, I really didn’t care if I saw the movie or not. Seemed like your standard action movie, potentially also spoiling the most amusing parts in it.

Damn it trailers, why must you exist at 2-3 minute lengths? You give far too much away!

“I’m hear to kick ass and fuck bitches, and I’m all out of fucks to give.”

The movie begins with a cold open in Pittsburgh, where a man open fires from a sniping position and kills five random citizens before making his get away. However, with the large number of clues left behind, Detective Emerson (David Oyelowo) and District Attorney Rodin (Richard Jenkins) are able to find the culprit and make the arrest within 16 hours after the incident. Despite the facts, the sniper, James Barr (Joseph Sikora) refuses to admit guilt, and asks for one thing. Jack Reacher.

Reacher (Tom Cruise) is a ghost, having been living off the grid in the US for the last two years, without a smudge on his record. Formerly a member of the military police, he has had a past with Barr in Iraq, and makes his way on Pittsburgh on his own to find out just what happened. Helen (Rosamund Pike), Barr’s attorney, daughter of the DA, wants to use Jack as her lead investigator to help her side of the case. She doesn’t want to get him off or anything, but maybe just avoid the death penalty. Oh, and Barr is now in a coma. Hard to help out your own case when you can’t talk!

What will Jack conclude? Did Barr finally snap and take out a few civilians? Or is something else at play here? You know, since he is being followed by random thugs and gang people (Jai Courtney, Werner Herzog). Robert Duvall is also around eventually, as your everyday friendly gun shop owner. Yay small businesses!

Bus stop
Look familiar? This scene literally takes place on a different day as the other picture.

The first words spoken in the movie don’t happen until 8 minutes in. It wasn’t just eight minutes of opening credits either! No, we got to see the shooter set up, take his shots, and leave. We saw all the clues gathered and the shooter arrested and taken to jail, all before anyone said a word. The only way to describe the snipe scene is creepy. You get to see through the cross hairs, hear the breathing, and watch as the sniper figures out his victims and shoots, all in one long scene.

And boy did it really set the tone for the rest of the movie.

Jack Reacher is not a CGI-driven action movie full of explosions with a one man super hero who spits bullets and is amazing at everything. No, there is actually a bit of thought involved and he has weaknesses. The story takes its time to develop, going at the best pace to make sure the plot actually makes sense. The actual reason for the shootings I found to be disappointing, but I appreciated the build up to the reveal, even if it involved talk of conspiracies and corrupt government agents.

This is also a non comedic role for Tom Cruise. I usually find his more serious stuff to be lacking and a bit dull, yet I think he really carried this picture in a calm and confident way. Don’t worry, there are some amusing scenes, but it isn’t the main focus of the film.

I’d recommend this movie if you are looking for an action movie that isn’t completely mindless and what looks like a faithful interpretation of the book.

3 out of 4.

Red Tails

I was actually excited to finally see Red Tails. I was hoping it would get me out of this mediocre film slump I have been on. I mean. WAR FILMS GUYS. Think of war films. How many would you describe as epic? Probably a lot of them.

So I was ready for another epic movie, that was based on true events, and George Lucas has been trying to get this movie made since the early 90s. Good, the last film I know about that took a jillion years to make was Avatar, and although not the best movie, it was at least stupidly visually awesome.

Walk that shit

Oh yeah. Racism. Epic War movie and racism. HOW CAN IT FAIL?

Movie takes place in 1944, where after a long training program, a group of African-American pilots are finally deployed to Europe to begin fighter pilot duties! Italy at that, which is clearly the hot bed of WWII action. Unfortunately they are given pretty old planes and only scouting missions where the enemy hasn’t been seen for months.

We enter with Colonel William Mortamus (Bryan Cranston) trying to shut the program down, calling it failed with their poor numbers. Colonel A.J. Bullard (Terrence Howard) is fighting for his team state side, noting their poor numbers is only because they don’t get any real missions.

Also he has to fight a report that they are not fit for combat at all. But eventually, with the help of Colonel Jack Tomilson (Lee Tergesen) they get a real mission! The news gets back to Major Emanuelle Stance (Cuba Gooding Jr.) who is in command while the Colonel is away, and much celebration occurs! They are to assist Allies landing in some part of Italy, where they have to fend of German air fire.

The crew is lead by Easy (Nate Parker, what the hell kind of nick name is Easy?), but the best pilot is Lightning (David Oyelowo), who also is reckless. Easy unfortunately doubts himself a lot and is prone to the drinking. We also have Junior/Ray-Gun (Tristan Wilds) and Joker (Elijah Kelley) who you can guess their tropes. There are also the less important characters of Neon (Kevin Phillips) and Smoky (Ne-Yo).

But enough about that! They are super successful in their mission, even taking out a German airfield in the process. Sure, Junior gets injured and loses the full ability of one of his eyes, but that probably wont effect him later right? Right? He probably won’t be taken as a POW by the enemy, due to Easy letting him fly so soon.

They eventually get to provide support to Bombers, and end up being the most successful escort crew in the war, killing a lot more Nayzees than Nayzees kill them.

Flawless Vicotry
That my friends is the face of a Flawless Victory.

But it wasn’t even flawless. Turns out this film takes a real event and fictionalizes the shit out of it. Characters, events, survivability, and also makes it seem like they never fucked up once they finally got to fight. They were still good in real life, but not so perfect. Even had people in the movie die, much to my surprise. And a love story with an Italian woman hottie!

A lot of the negative press from this movie comes from the fact that it lacked really any character growth, and everyone felt like their own little stereotype throughout the movie. And yeah, well, that was true. The only change you can note is that Easy drunk less eventually, and stopped being a little bitch. But that was barely a change in the movie either.

There is only really three missions we see them go on, and we are left believing that they cured racism and saved the war at the same time. But it didn’t feel epic at all. Plane fights are hard as hell to do, and have always been hard as hell to do. But it doesn’t help that the technology for them felt like the early 90s, when Lucas first decided to make this movie.

For a 19 year project, it sure felt rushed.

1 out of 4.