Lee Daniels’ The Butler: The Times They Are A-Changin’

by Ethan Alter August 16, 2013 5:55 am
<i>Lee Daniels’ The Butler:</i> The Times They Are A-Changin’

It was roughly an hour into Lee Daniels' The Butler (as I'm apparently legally obligated to call the movie) when I realized that we had only just met the second of the seven U.S. presidents that the title character was going to serve in his capacity as a White House butler and my heart started to sink just a little bit. There wasn't anything specific happening onscreen in that moment that inspired that reaction -- not a tone-deaf performance, a flat line of dialogue or a questionable directing choice. It was more the dawning realization that we still had two decades and six presidents left to go on this noble, reverent and altogether tedious march through the second half of 20th century American history, with a specific emphasis on the Civil Rights movement. And as vital as that story remains and as important it is for present and future generations to remember the many sacrifices that were made on our behalf by so many brave men and women, watching that piece of history being dramatized in such a plodding, superficial manner left me with the same eyes-glazing-over boredom that I used to experience when reading a particularly dry high school textbook.

Indie Snapshot: <i>The Paperboy</i>, <i>Butter</i>, <i>The Oranges</i>, <I>Wuthering Heights</i>

Nicole Kidman gets an extreme makeover in the ridiculous potboiler The Paperboy. Also, our takes on Butter, The Oranges and Wuthering Heights.

Previewing the 50th New York Film Festival

by Ethan Alter September 28, 2012 5:58 am
Previewing the 50th New York Film Festival

The New York Film Festival turns 50 this year and is appropriately throwing itself one heck of a birthday bash. The golden anniversary celebration kicks off tonight with the world premiere of Ang Lee's Life of Pi, an adaptation of the best-selling novel that ranks among the fall season's big Oscar hopefuls. Over the next two weeks (the festival runs from September 28 to October 14) a plethora of big-ticket films and events will be unspooling at the festival's headquarters at Lincoln Center on New York's Upper West Side. You can visit the official NYFF website for the full schedule and ticket information. In the meantime, we've gone through the festival line-up (and have even seen a few of the movies) to highlight some of this year's key titles.

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