Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Philly filmmaker Lee Daniels goes to the White House -- in his new movie

In "The Butler," Forest Whitaker stars as an African-American who served eight presidents in Washington, D.C.

Philly filmmaker Lee Daniels goes to the White House -- in his new movie

Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines in "The Butler."
Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines in "The Butler."

Lee Daniels, the industriously edgy Philadelphia filmmaker who won a best director Oscar nomination for his 2009 drama, Precious, and whose sex-and-violence laden The Paperboy, with Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron, comes out in a few weeks, is in New Orleans right now making The Butler.

Inspired by the true story of Cecil Gaines, an African-American who tended to eight Presidents in the White House over a span of more than 30 years, The Butler stars Forest Whitaker in the title role. He is joined by big and busy cast: Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, John Cusack and David Oyelowo (both in The Paperboy), Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Minka Kelly (as Jackie Kennedy), Lenny Kravitz, Melissa Leo,  Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber (as LBJ) and Robin Williams among 'em. Told from Gaines’ unique personal perspective, Daniels’ film tracks the sweeping changes of decades of American history, including the birth of the civil rights movement and the social upheavals of the Vietnam era.  

"What moves me most about this man is his quiet nature, grace and unmatched perspective that comes from being in one place -- a very powerful one -- during what was arguably the period in American history that saw the most change," Daniels told Variety. The Weinstein Company will release The Butler next year.  

Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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