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items tagged with Jane Fonda

Serving in Silence: "Lee Daniels' The Butler," "Jobs," and "Kick-Ass 2"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2013-08-19 09:06:55

Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker in Lee Daniels' The ButlerLEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER

While raving to him about Lee Daniels’ The Butler – the glorious, heart-rending, hugely entertaining Civil Rights saga that may showcase the finest performance yet by star Forest Whitaker – a friend asked if it was the sort of movie that needed to be seen at the movies, or if it was something that could wait until home video. I replied that, as much as I think great films should always be seen first in as grandly scaled a format as possible, it was probably a work that wouldn’t lose much in the transition from big to smaller screen. Although director Daniels’ effort covers some 75 years of American history, with Whitaker portraying an eight-term White House servant over more than 50 of them, it’s still a rather intimate epic boasting a mostly understated visual style, and will no doubt play just fine in home-theater settings. (Actually, after the film’s “For Your Consideration” screeners are eventually sent out, I think it’s going to play awfully fine in the home-theater settings of Oscar voters. My first thought on the drive home was that even though it’s only August, this year’s Best Picture, Director, and Actor races were already all sewn up.)


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Mike's Online-Only Movie Reviews - 2007
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2007-10-30 00:41:02

Eduardo Verastegui and Tammy Blanchard in BellaBella (PG-13) - Alejandro Monteverde's drama, which concerns the friendship between a chef and a newly pregnant, newly unemployed waitress, received the People's Choice Award at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. Um... who are these "people," exactly? Space people? Because I can see how Bella might be confused with a great movie if you didn't understand a word of human conversation. Even then, of course, you might still be put off by the film's bizarre editing (with flash-forwards routinely, meaninglessly interrupting scenes-in-progress) and lackluster photography; Montevrede shows more interest in food than in his stars. And then there's that baffling ending, which seems to set the film up for a sequel - one that fills in that massive "Huh?!?" of a climactic plot hole. But it's still the mawkish, maudlin screenplay that does it in; Eduardo Verástegui (looking uncannily like Jim Caviezel as Christ) and Tammy Blanchard (as ever, looking uncannily like Judy Garland) are stuck with unplayable dialogue and baldly written characters, and the movie shamelessly plies on the merely-functional supporting stereotypes. The movie is pro-life and pro-family with a vengeance, which might account for its (limited) popular success. I just wish it were also a little pro-brain, and a lot anti-cliché.


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