Monday, August 26, 2013

Who's On Top: Movies

Lee Daniels' The Butler 

Nobody who has seen “Shadowboxer,” “Precious” or, heaven knows, “The Paperboy” would mistake Lee Daniels for a realist. Nonetheless, his new film — released, as a result of a ridiculous film industry food fight, with the ungainly official title “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” — is a brilliantly truthful film on a subject that is usually shrouded in wishful thinking, mythmongering and outright denial. Taking inspiration from an article by Wil Haygood in The Washington Post about the life of Eugene Allen, who worked as a butler in the White House during eight presidential administrations, Mr. Daniels has told the story of the civil rights movement in the bold colors of costume pageantry and the muted tones of domestic drama. He also throws in a few bright splashes of crazy, over-the-top theatricality, in the form of outrageous period-appropriate outfits and startling celebrity cameos, as well as dabs of raucous comedy. You may hear it said, in praise of “The Butler,” that it shows this director in a more restrained, responsible frame of mind than his earlier films did. This may be true — most movies not directed by John Waters can be described as more restrained than “The Paperboy” — but it misses both the subtlety of Mr. Daniels’s previous movies and the wild exuberance of this one. The history of racism in America, and of efforts to overcome it, is usually addressed by Hollywood with a solemn, anxious, churchly hush and flattened into a tableau of villains and saints. Mr. Daniels and the screenwriter, Danny Strong, understand that both the horror and the heroism are connected with everything else that makes America such a complicated, interesting, appalling and glorious place: our politics, our popular culture, our deepest desires and our simplest habits. Making the topic safe and boring is no good for anyone. — A. O. Scott

Top 10 @ Box Office:
1. Lee Daniels' The Butler
2. We're the Millers
3. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
4. The World's End
5. Disney's Planes
6. Elysium
7. You're Next
8. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
9. Blue Jasmine
10. Kick Ass 2

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