By Jamee Kennedy
TAFF Executive Director
I have been on vacation so I have been remiss with keeping current on recently released films. Sorry bout that. But we do need rest around here. I finally was able to see Lee Daniels, The Butler last night at the Arbor. This seems to be the place to go to watch intelligent, thoughtful films that tell interesting stories. And this is exactly what The Butler does. This film is an engaging portrayal one of man’s gentle, sweet life, throughout racial oppression and suffering. When the film is over, you just want to hug him.
The audience follows the real life story of Cecil Gaines from the son of a slave on a cotton farm to beloved white house staff member. As young Cecil navigates through the brutal repression of the South, he learns how to be an invisible servant. And as he suffers through family turmoil and civil unrest, he becomes a gentle, calm voice of reason. As he nears retirement Cecil stands alone as the symbol of a generation of hard working black servants who ultimately change the hearts, minds, and souls of their white employers and the nation.
There are so many good things to say about this film. But the best thing, in my humble opinion, is Forrest Whitaker’s, Cecil and Oprah Winfrey’s performance of Cecil’s wife Gloria. But there are also are so many intriguing cameos. Liev Schreiber’s LBJ, and James Marsdan’s Kennedy in particular are spot on and, in Marsden’s case, heartbreaking. In fact, the entire cast is stellar. But I don’t want to spoil the film’s impact. You will have to experience it for yourself. And do yourself and your family a favor. Take your children to this film. Glean from it’s history and wisdom. This film has many worthy lessons to teach about having a servant’s heart, loving others first to the point of injury and death so that others may benefit and redemption for all.