Tuesday, January 21, 2014
The Art Of Story Telling
So I watched Lee Daniels' The Butler last night and I give it a Daily Dandy two thumbs up! While I thought the story was compelling and thought provoking, what's really amazing to me is that segregation of that kind took place during my lifetime. It's so hard for me to fathom. I guess it's a good thing that today I live in Dr. Martin Luther King's Dream....
In any case, let's talk for a moment about the acting in this movie.
What I really loved was the who's who game that was played throughout the story. From Mariah Carey, Robin Williams, James Mardsen, a prosthetic nose-wearing John Cusack as a young and old, battered Nixon, it was almost like a Cracker Jack surprise in every box! Then there was Alan Rickman, (Prof. Snape himself), Jane Fonda and a commode sitting Liev Schreiber, (My Ray Donavan) I kept calling out the names of the actors like a rousting game of "who's who?" Lenny Kravitz??? Brilliant casting. Cuba Gooding Jr once again making me fall in love with his talent. Oprah Winfrey was a joy to behold and for someone who doesn't act for a living, she was fantastic. Then there's Forrest Whitaker, who absolutely takes a role and wraps it in his hands like a modern day Rumpelstiltskin then spins the straw into gold. His compassionate portrayal of Cecil Gaines, based loosely on a true story, is a testament to the significance of the subject matter and the moral fiber of the character he portrays.
Now let's talk for a moment about the civil rights movement.
For me, I couldn't help but be enthralled by the character of Lewis Gaines, Cecil's son, the freedom fighter. The courage and dedication of a man to fight for what he believed in almost cost him his relationship with his father. He was a hero but at what expense? The scene in the Gaines dining room when Lewis comes to dinner with his afro wearin' girlfriend was one of my favorites. The moral struggle between father and son played out between blacks and whites and society serves to highlight the courage it took to become a freedom fighter and to stay one. I couldn't help but think about where we would be today if people like the character Lewis Gaines hadn't found the strength and courage to fight to end segregation.
Now I'd like to talk for a moment about Cecil Gaines himself.
Although Cecil Gaines is a character written for the big screen, Forrest Whitaker's elegant portrayal of a man who served eight presidents during his tenure as a White House butler exemplifies that this character represents so much more about being a black man in a white world. The character represents pride. Cecil took pride in his job and his family and while he may not have agreed with the politics that were taking place around him, he continued on. While he served, his goal was to be "invisible" in every room he entered, and he contributed to his world with the best of himself. But that same pride and invisibility later came around to haunt him and the passion he had been suppressing for years by being "invisible" is what ended up saving him.
Of all the questions that this cinematic treat left me pondering, there is one left to ask here:
Who is Lee Daniels?