Combining a compelling story with an ethereal resemblance to the historical presentation in Forrest Gump, Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels has come up with a superior film that has his name in front of it on the marquee. Lee Daniels’ The Butler wasn’t given that title due to his tremendous achievement, or from any egotistical notions. The name change from “The Butler” was mandated by rules involving movie titles.
[rating=3]Starring: Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, Elizabeth Olsen, Nat Wolff, Chace Crawford, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyle MacLachlan Director(s): Bruce Beresford Writer(s): Joseph Muszynski and Christina Mengert
Diane (Catherine Keener) has two kids, one in college and one soon to be there as well, a successful law practice and a husband. As she is preparing for a dinner party, her husband (Kyle MacLachlan) informs her that he wants a divorce, now that the kids are older. He is packing to depart after the dinner is over when she informs him that she’s taking their kids up to her mother’s house and he informs her that they will be doing what he wants when she returns.
Mother’s house is an old place near that famous town of Woodstock, where Grace (Jane Fonda) lives and has done so without contact from Diane for 20 years. Chickens wander in and out of the house, and according to Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen), the older of the two kids, the place “reeks of pot”. Turns out that Grace sold pot and that was one way she made ends meet, but hopefully she isn’t doing that now.
Fred Zinneman is never the first name that comes up when naming the great directors of our time, but it certainly could be. With masterpieces like From Here to Eternity, High Noon, and A Man for All Seasons, he demonstrated an amazingly versatile range in telling complex narratives about the human struggle to pursue and, in some cases, fight for, what is good among many different backdrops.