Sunday, August 18, 2013




(Huntsville, Alabama)  It is premiere weekend and if you haven't see "THE BUTLER," yet, shame on you!  It is one of the most anticipated movies of the summer and it is "brilliantly and beautifully crafted!" Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey are "first rate" in their roles!  It is bold,  thought provoking, emotional and awe-inspiring!  From the opening frame to the closing credits, you feel the raw, colorful, explosive, emotional journey of our American history through the eyes of an ordinary middle class-family pushed through extraordinary challenges.

This movie has an impressive supporting cast with a slew of cameos, but it is Oprah fans who are in for a real treat. After more than a decade, the former "Daytime Diva," redeems herself on the silver screen as Gloria Gaines.  She nails the "southern, gentile demeanor" of this wife and mother during the turbulent times of the 60's.  Her scene at the dinner table where she literally slaps her militant son back into reality when it comes to "respecting your elders" is memorable.

Side note: I would love to know how much of Oprah's character's torrid, hot affair with Terrance Howard's womanizing character ended up on the editing room floor.  I also found it ironic that this movie which includes a scene from the election of President Barack Obama,  has one of the richest black women in the world portraying the wife of a White House servant.

Forest Whitaker comes full circle with his acting chops in his role as Cecil Gaines. This veteran actor cleverly shows us how even a "butler" in The White House had the potential to influence important legislation through seven Presidential administrations. The famed star is excellent in his portrayal of Cecil Gaines, a humble, "unsung hero" who has his own "spiritual awakening." The Butler truly is a vivid reminder of how one quiet voice can truly ignite a revolution!

I shall never forget the scene and message from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in the movie.  King reminds Gaines's son, who ashamed and often disrespectful to his father of the significance of the butler's role in the White House.  Dr. King reminds the most militant member of this iconic family that a role of a "domestic" is one of honor because it speaks directly to the domestics' "integrity, character and work ethic!"

Never before has a more edgy, candid portrayal of the "Freedom Riders" during the Civil Rights Era been placed on the silver screen. I'm still shivering from the coffee, lunch-room sit-in scene that literally sucks the wind out of every person sitting in the theater as it plays out in living color during a time when blacks and whites were still trying to find their place in this country. It is by far one of the most prolific scenes because it speaks to the sacrifice made during the movement. To see America's youth, many of them as young as 13 years old stand strong and defiant in the face of segregation.  I'm reminded of the "lessons learned" as a general assignment reporter in Birmingham researching this iconic era and learning first hand about the tremendous sacrifice of the "Freedom Riders," black and white!

"The Butler" is a real-life story that serves as "sobering reminder" of the "giant shoulders"we're all standing on in this country today. It is a bold slap across the face to those of us who have forgotten the struggle.  It brilliantly depicts how far we've come and how much more work that's left to be done!

I am proud to say in Huntsville, Alabama where I viewed the movie,  everyone in the theater--black and white,--young and old stood on their feet and applauded with approval at the closing credits.  Perhaps a people who have enjoyed the benefits of Cecil Gaines's sacrifice, leaving with a new found respect for the domestic who influence history in his own way.

Lee Daniels' -"The Butler" is an era-spanning, Oscar hopeful,  historical, Civil Rights drama that is worth your time.  See it two times, it's just that extraordinary!

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