The Butler

The Worst Films of 2013

If you listen to the wrong kind of people (cultural pessimists, that is), every year is the worst year in cinema, at least since the last one. But as we learned last year, high highs tend to come with low lows. In a year that saw the release of such instant classics as 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, and many more, there were also scads of terrible contributions to the greater world of movie-going. High highs, people, and low lows. Let’s try to make next year a little better, or at least let’s aim to populate it with satires that actually try to be funny, sequels that aren’t a disgrace to their franchise history, and nothing even remotely resembling inAPPropriate Comedy 2. While there were certainly more than a mere thirteen bad movies that hit the big screen this year (and, yes, we’re more than eager to see your contributions in the comments), here are thirteen that stuck out to us in the most unforgettable of ways. We’ve come to bury them, and certainly not to praise them, so here are thirteen films that we’re giddily throwing in the grave.

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blackfishmovie

Welcome to my 6th annual list of halloween costume ideas. These are mostly original, yet also mostly unlikely suggestions. One thing a lot of them have in common is the fact that you’ll need to explain exactly what you are, even if there is some mainstream-recognized foundation. For example, if this was a list of costume ideas based on movies that haven’t come out yet, one might be “Justin Bieber as Robin in Batman vs. Superman.” The basic Robin uniform would probably be easily understood, but the fact that the colors have been changed to purple, white and black, and why you’ve got a mop top will require the clarification that it’s based on a casting rumor the singer made up. I’d like to preface this year’s list by saying that I feel the past 12 months have either been uninspiring compared to other years — and/or I haven’t seen the hip movies of 2013. And I didn’t bother with much from the last quarter (as in post-Halloween) titles from 2012, because they all just feel like they’re from a century ago. Seriously, if you see anyone dressed as Abraham Lincoln and mention Spielberg’s movie, you’re sure to get a reaction of “oh yeah, there was that movie.” Feel free to borrow any of the following ideas for your Halloween festivities, especially if you want something that’s a conversation starter. But you must send us pictures. And if you don’t like my suggesions but you come up with your own very […]

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As a number of box office reports will recognize, this was one of the weirdest weekends ever for new releases. For one thing, a documentary topped the chart for the three-day frame (there’s a chance it won’t win the whole four-day Labor Day weekend, however), and for another thing, a Spanish-language movie in limited release rounded out the top five highest grossing pics. Both of these bettered all other openers, including the action thriller Getaway and the British terrorism thriller Closed Circuit, which debuted Wednesday in a low-end yet still-wide release. It’s certainly the most curious weekend for box office numbers since a Bollywood movie opened in the top ten back in June. The doc at #1 is One Direction: This Is Us, and as far as I’m aware this is only the seventh nonfiction feature to open this high (the others are Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Jackson: This Is It, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour and the three Jackass movies — I would maybe count Borat, too, but many people would not), and the first since 2010. To show how bad a weekend this was overall, though, This Is Us debuted at almost half the amount that Justin Bieber: Never Say Never did, but sadly that one was just barely beat (by only a few hundred-k) by the Adam Sandler vehicle Just Go With It. Still, you can bet we’ll continue getting 3D music doc-busters starring the pop act du jour thanks to this distinction, even […]

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The Butler

Lee Daniels finally goes full historical drama with his Forest Whitaker-starring bid for awards season glory, The Butler (or, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, depending on how sensitive you are to technicalities). Based on the real life story of White House butler Eugene Allen, who worked for eight U.S. presidents between the years 1952 and 1986, Daniels and screenwriter Danny Strong have retrofitted Allen’s compelling story to suit their own aims (changing the name of the Allen character to “Cecil Gaines” is the least egregious modification to the story, and even that one feels strange). Less a story about one man and his experiences in a changing White House (and a changing world), The Butler is mostly a domestic drama told in the vein of Forrest Gump about a man who just happens to work in the White House, with much of history hitting him outside the confines of his unique job. Despite Gaines’ (or Allen’s, again depending on how sensitive you are to technicalities) incredibly interesting career path (from Southern slave to hotel employee to highest ranking butler in the White House), most of The Butler is focused on the family squabbles that play out between the apolitical Cecil and his oldest son Louis (played mostly by the wonderful David Oyelowo), who becomes a civil rights crusader in the most Forrest Gump way possible (you name a major event in the civil rights movement, and Louis is there, usually on television too, just for good measure). The film’s very subject […]

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Badger Breaking Bad

The morning’s most fascinating articles from around the movie website-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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The Butler

Now that Warner Bros. and the Weinstein Company have come to a peaceful understanding over the title of Lee Daniels’ The Butler (which is now titled Lee Daniels’ The Butler, for true ease) let the marketing games begin for the Oscar bait. Entertainment Weekly has eight new stills from the presidential drama, which follows the story of one African-American butler, Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), who served in the White House through decades of administration changes to see firsthand how the country itself changed. The film has an all-star roster playing the presidents and their first ladies, and the stills show a few of those actors doing their best party impressions. Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan is pretty uncanny. And the beautiful irony of Jane Fonda playing Nancy Reagan will hopefully not be lost on any audiences. Her ’80s party dress is spectacular; I’m expecting taffeta and jewels for days.

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The Butler

When Lee Daniels signed on to direct The Butler, it was unclear how Wil Haygood’s “Washington Post” article would be converted into cinematic storytelling. There was a lot of room for maneuvering. Although deft and interesting, there are about a dozen different tones that could emerge from the profile of White House butler Eugene Allen — who served eight presidents from Truman to Reagan and is played here by Forest Whitaker. Judging from the trailer, Daniels and screenwriter Danny Strong swung for the fences. It’ll be fascinating to see how they’ve packed so many trenchant, racially-charged years of American history into an intimately human story. Allen was born in 1919 and would live to see Barack Obama elected president. That’s not merely a lot of time to cover; considering the loaded symbolism, the people who sat behind the Resolute desk while Allen was stacking champagne, and his rich personal struggle with the paperwork behind shuffled on Capitol Hill, Daniels and the production have their work cut out for them here. Of course there’s also John Cusack, whose face looks like its about to explode playing Richard Nixon. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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In the latest addition of Release Date Round-Up, just about every single film that needed a release date gets dated, or at least this giant installment of everyone’s favorite release date feature (sure) makes it seem that way. We’ve got dates for every kind of film under the sun (vampires! true life trauma! comic book movies! historical dramas!), including a hefty number of totally new dates (and a smidgen of some simple change-ups) for many of the films. What we’re saying is, there is a lot of stuff here, so better pull out your day planners and get cracking on configuring your movie-watching for the rest of the year. After the break, find out when you can see David O. Russell‘s untitled reunion with his Silver Linings Playbook stars, Christopher Nolan‘s next, and seemingly everything else in between. Your wallet is about to take a big hit.

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After the critical and commercial success of Precious, director Lee Daniels most likely had offers flooding into his office. Considering the way he describes the post-Precious period, that was indeed the case. There were plenty of movies Daniels could have made and for large sums of money as well. In the end, Daniels decided to followup Precious with The Paperboy, a movie many have called “pulpy.” Pulpy material usually doesn’t equal commercial success, but after making a hit, Daniels decided to stick with his gut even if his gut told him to turn down millions. The Paperboy, as ludicrous as it certainly is at times, remains a personal story for Daniels. Some may not see through the sweat and violence of the picture, but he saw this as another tale filled with people he knows well and who we don’t see on screen often enough: characters with a death wish. The world those characters inhabits is one you’ll either love or hate. Here’s what director Lee Daniels had to say about his artist side superseding commercialism, when the magic happens on set, and why he really shows Zac Efron in his underwear so much:

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Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan in The Butler

Lee Daniels is currently waist-deep in White House history, exploring the most visible citizen’s home office through the eyes of The Butler – a forthcoming adaptation of a Wil Haygood newspaper article chronicling a butler (played by Forest Whitaker) who served under 8 presidents. Daniels is taking advantage of the huge swath of famous political faces by having a huge supporting cast to play them. One of the less-famous faces is being played by Oprah Winfrey (who is surprisingly not one of the 30 some odd producers), and she tweeted out (via Cinema Blend) this first look at Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan and Alan Rickman (!) as Ronald Reagan. Once again we get to marvel at the make-up, hair and costuming of a historical flick. The team has done a great job of making both look as close as possible (to the point where Rickman is virtually unrecognizable as himself). Plus, the actor raised taxes 11 times in preparation for the role, so everyone’s dedication levels are high for this one.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movies that may or may not be skimming the good stuff off the top of tonight’s news sundae because it needs to go get caught up on Breaking Bad. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty happening… We begin this evening with an image of Forest Whitaker as Eugene Allen in The Butler. The Lee Daniels directed film focuses on the long-time White House servant and will also star the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams, John Cusack and Alan Rickman.

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James Marsden in The Butler

Make no mistake, we love us some Matthew McConaughey around these parts, but his unique brand of show-stopping performance is perhaps not so well-suited for historical dramas with large casts of characters, particularly ones that might not have the strongest of directing talent to steer them. Films like Lee Daniels‘ upcoming The Butler, set to chronicle the life story of Eugene Allen, who served as a White House butler under an incredible eight presidents and through the years 1952 to 1986. To that end, Variety reports (via The Playlist) that James Marsden has joined the film as JFK. McConaughey had been attached to the role for only two months, but dropped out of the project just last month due to scheduling conflicts with the long-gestating The Dallas Buyer’s Club. Of course, we must also wonder if those “conflicts” have anything to do with Daniels and McConaughey’s last project, Cannes giggle factory (and home of Nicole Kidman demanding to pee on Zac Efron), The Paperboy.

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“Yes, the same Jane Fonda who has been described as a communist, was part of the “F” the Army too and is an enemy sympathizer.” “Perhaps Fonda will be perfect at mangling history on film, since she’s certainly done that in real life.” “Of all people Hollywood could haven chosen to portray Nancy Reagan in a new film, they come up with Jane Fonda. It’s like they’re trying to offend half of America before the movie is even made. ” “Arch-liberals Fonda and [John] Cusack playing a pair of major figures on the Right? Conservatives should stock up on antacids starting … now.” That’s Townhall.com, News Busters, The Lonely Conservative and Breitbart.com in response to the Variety story that writer/director Lee Daniels (Precious) has hired Jane Fonda to play Nancy Reagan for his new movie The Butler, which follow the story of Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served under eight, count ‘em, eight presidents during his career.

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Last night, my Twitter feed coughed out a story from THR, an exclusive report about casting rumors for Lee Daniels‘ (Precious) potential next project, The Butler. At the time, I was too stunned (and too busy laughing hysterically) by how completely wrongheaded a few of the potential stars seemed to be for their respective roles to pen something on the subject. I’ve yet to fully recover, but my typing hands are itchy. The Butler is the true life story of Eugene Allen, a White House butler who worked under eight presidents, spanning the years of 1952 to 1986. Danny Strong wrote the script (with a re-write from Daniels), based on Wil Haygood‘s 2008 Washington Post story “A Butler Well Served by This Election.” You can read the full story HERE, which is a wonderful tale not just about Allen, but about life (and race) in the White House (and America). The story also paid particular focus to the election of Barack Obama – it was published on November 7, 2008, just days after he was elected – and days after Allen himself cast his vote for the first African-American president. But while the story behind The Butler is phenomenal, and Daniels’ apparent first choice to play Allen (David Oyelowo) is pretty great, the rest of the rumored casting for the film is a big bag of “wait, what?”

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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