The Butler ***1/2

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When I saw “The Butler”, I was pleasantly surprised by how raw and powerful it was. I guess I should of trusted the director, Lee Daniels, to not hold back on the material. The previews started to give me vibes like it was going to be similar to “The Help”, which was a travesty of a movie.

“The Butler” tells the story of a White House butler who served eight American presidents over three decades. The film traces the dramatic changes that swept American society during this time, from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond, and how those changes affected this man’s life and family. Forest Whitaker stars as the butler with Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, James Marsden as John F. Kennedy, Liev Schreiber as Lyndon B. Johnson, and many more.

The writing and direction here are very good. I liked that the filmmakers did not shy away from some of the more controversial events. “The Help” seemed to be more interested in the troubles of two white women and their struggles with racism in America. Here the story focuses on the people who were actually descriminated against.

The best scenes were me were the one on one’s with the different presidents. Who knows just how accurate this film is but it was interesting to see how each president reacted to the civil rights movement.

With this movie and “12 Years A Slave”, filmmakers are really shining a light on some of America’s uglier moments in it’s history. Hopefully these become required viewing in schools so that the bitterness and hatred can be one day completely a thing of the past.

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