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With his debut feature, writer-director Ryan Coogler recreates a real-life event with remarkable artistry. Even though the factual story is overwhelmed with emotion and political opinion, he never lets either swamp this film, remaining earthy and realistic in ways that allow the audience to experience what happens in a startlingly intimate, complex way.
Set over one day, New Year's Eve 2008, the film follows Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 23-year-old on the cusp of some pivotal life choices. He loves his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and their young daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal), so knows he has to stop dealing drugs and chasing women. This morning he lost his job just before throwing a birthday party for his mother (Octavia Spencer). And now he's heading across the bay to San Francisco with Sophina and his pals to celebrate 2009. But on the way home, a fight breaks out as their train pulls into Fruitvale Station, and two transport cops (Kevin Durand and Chad Michael Murray) take heavy-handed action to calm the situation.
The film opens with actual video footage of the fateful moment, as captured on a witness' mobile phone, so there's no surprise about where this is heading. Even so, the climactic sequence is so shocking that the emotionally devastation is almost unbearable. As is the outrage that police are allowed to profile racially, which in this case turned an easily resolved situation into something fatal. Amazingly, Coogler never loses his cool, fluidly writing and directing with a grounded honesty that makes everything that much more urgent.
Continue reading: Fruitvale Station Review
Forest Whitaker is reportedly in negotitations to direct the big screen adaptation of bestselling novel The Shack.
Oscar winner Forest Whitaker could be the man to direct the big screen version of The Shack, Deadline is reporting. Written by William Paul Young, The Shack tells the story of Mackenzie Allen Philips who in the aftermath of a devastating personal tragedy, receives a mysterious note in his mailbox inviting him to 'the shack'. The letter is signed Papa which is his wife’s nickname for God which sends him on a journey of truth, forgiveness, and ultimately acceptance.
Forest Whitaker May Direct 'The Shack'.
The Shack was self published by author William Paul Young in 2007 and went on to become a New York Times best seller. It has since sold over 10million copies worldwide. Its success was largely due to word of mouth recommendations within the Christian community.
Continue reading: Is Forest Whitaker Set To Direct 'The Shack' Adaptation?
Coarse and not exactly subtle, this dark drama might disappoint viewers expecting a more traditional revenge thriller, but there's something more interesting going on here. And even though it starts at full volume and only gets more intense, the film is actually remarkably thoughtful and measured in its approach.
It's set in the Rust Belt, industrial Pennsylvania, where Russell (Bale) works in a steel mill and worries about his little brother Rodney (Affleck), who's deep in debt to a local bookie (Dafoe). Then a late-night car crash lands Russell in prison, and when he's released everything has changed. He has no job, his girlfriend (Saldana) is now dating the local sheriff (Whitaker), and Rodney is paying off his debts by fighting in bare-knuckle boxing matches. Even more perilous is the fact that all of this puts the brothers on a collision course with vicious local redneck Harlan (Harrelson), who has no intention of making their lives easier.
The film opens with a particularly brutal display of Harlan's menace, so we know what's coming. And as everything goes from bad to worse for our two heroes, the film feels almost aggressively harsh. Of course, Bale and Affleck are terrific as these damaged men whose fierce bond both helps and puts them into danger. And both actors let us see beneath the surface as their lives fall apart. In what could be the thankless ex-girlfriend role, Saldana has some surprisingly powerful moments. And Harrelson is a deeply terrifying force to reckon with.
Continue reading: Out Of The Furnace Review
Thomas Carter is a life coach who receives widespread literary fame after releasing his book 'Don't Look Back' following a nearly fatal car accident. At a book signing, he meets a troubled man named Angel Sanchez who has taken on Carter's advice so heavily that he is determined to have private therapy sessions with him. Carter discovers that Sanchez is finding it impossible to find peace in his mind as he frequently has frightening hallucinations of his dead mother who was killed and found in the river near his home. Meanwhile, Carter has his own problems which come to rise at the arrival of his brother who knows that he's not the perfect life-coach he comes across as to his readers. Sanchez is also seeing cracks in his life and, in a bid to 'heal' him, brutally holds him hostage - along with his wife and brother - and places them under threat of torture after becoming obsessed with Carter's karma-centric teachings.
Continue: Repentance Trailer
The SAG nominations were fairly predictable, though there was no room for Robert Redford.
This morning we were treated to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) nominations. It's one of the biggest award ceremonies on the movie calendar and, well, it's kind of a big deal. Forget the Globes - this is the ceremony that best predicts what's going to happen at the Oscars, with Shakespeare in Love, Chicago, Crash, Return of the King, Slumdog Millionaire, No Country For Old Men, Slumdog Millionaire, The King's Speech and Argo all winning the best ensemble cast award before going on to win best picture at the Academy Awards.
Forest Whitaker [L] in Lee Daniels' 'The Butler'
Obviously, we're not really interested in who got nominated today - we want to know who got snubbed, right? Well, this article probably isn't going to be too lengthy given that most of the nominations announcement was fairly predictable.
Continue reading: Forget The Screen Actors Guild Nominees, WHO GOT SNUBBED?!
Fans finally get to see The Hunger Games sequel, as the casts of Black Nativity, Dallas Buyers Club and Her walk red carpets. Also, new trailers bow for Bieber's Believe, Frost's Cuban Fury and Crowe's Noah...
This week is pretty much all about The Hunger Games as Catching Fire arrives in cinemas around the world. After last week's world premiere in London, the cast headed back to America for back-to-back premieres in Los Angeles and New York. Meanwhile, a range of clips and short online features have whipped up fan frenzy to potentially record-breaking box office potential. Take a look over all the best bits of the American premiere's here or our The Hunger Games: Catching Fire critics round up here or just read our own review here.
Slightly less flashy was the New York premiere of the Christmas drama Black Nativity, attended by stars Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker, all caught by paparazzi on the red carpet looking very glamorous. The film opens in time for the holidays. Check out our videos from the event Jacob Latimore and Angela Bassett arrive, Jennifer Hudson shows off her stunning pixie crop and Forest Whitaker takes his family to 'Black Nativity' NY Premiere.
'Black Nativity' Forest Whitaker arrived with his wife Keisha Nash Whitaker and daughter Sonnet Whitaker at the movie's New York premiere held at the Apollo Theater. 'Working Girl' actress Melanie Griffith and husband 'Desperado' star Antonio Banderas were also spotted at the event.
This is an strangely slushy movie from Lee Daniels, whose last two films (Precious and The Paperboy) bristled with unexpected life. By contrast, this star-packed drama uses a true story to trace the Civil Rights struggle from the 1950s to the present day. But it's been so fictionalised that it feels kind of like a variation on Forrest Gump.
Cecil Gaines (Whitaker) grew up on a Georgia cotton plantation, where the cruel master's kindly mother (Redgrave) taught him to be a house servant. Years later, he marries Gloria (Winfrey) and moves to Washington DC, where he gets a job in the White House as a butler to presidents from Eisenhower (Williams) to Reagan (Rickman). His job description is simple: "You hear nothing, you see nothing, you only serve." And yet as the nation grapples with its racist culture, he has a quiet influence on each leader who moves through the house.
Whitaker narrates the film in drawling flashbacks, while the story flickers between Cecil and his eldest son Louis (Oyelowo), an activist who is involved in every key moment in the Civil Rights movement. And their younger son (Kelley) is sent to Vietnam. So it's like a condensed version of late 20th century American history, made notable by the lively cast of cameo players including Marsden (as JFK), Schreiber (LBJ), Ellis (MLK) and Cusack (Nixon), plus Fonda as a lively Nancy Reagan.
Continue reading: The Butler Review
Christmas time is coming but for young Langston, happy holidays aren't going to come easy. He is forced to take a trip to Harlem, New York to stay with his churchgoing grandparents Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs who he has never yet met after his mother is handed an eviction notice from their Baltimore home. Langston struggles to abide by the Reverend's strict household rules and the frequent religious worship he has to undertake while living there, and so the street smart teen winds up getting into trouble in his desperation to return home and help his mother. Despite this, he picks up a few new friends and manages to save his Christmas from becoming a complete disaster with a little help from his guardian angel.
Continue: Black Nativity Trailer
'Lee Daniels' The Butler' has remained at the top of the US Box Office for the second consecutive week. 'We're the Millers' has also retained its position at no.2 for the third week.
Lee Daniels' The Butler has retained its position at No.1 in the US Weekend Box Office for the second week. The movie is an historical epic which follows the true story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a black butler who served at the White House through the offices of eight presidents. Whitaker is supported by a cast of award winning actors including Oprah Winfrey, Alan Rickman, Josh Cusack and Robin Williams.
Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey at the L.A. premiere of Lee Daniels' The Butler.
This weekend Lee Daniels' The Butler may not have been, financially, as successful as last weekend. It made over $17 million this week as opposed to the $25 million it earned in its opening weekend. Meanwhile We're the Millers, starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, made $13 million down from $17 million last weekend. The comedy made a similar amount to The Butler in its opening weekend ($26 million) yet has continued, by comparison, to be more financially profitable.
Continue reading: 'The Butler' & 'We're The Millers' Retain Top US Box Office Positions
Lee Daniels' The Butler could rule the box office again this weekend.
Remember when we first heard about The Butler? Lee Daniels' big-budget drama - starring Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, an African-American who served 34 years at the White House - was tipped for Oscars before a single scene was shot.
Forest Whitaker As 'The Butler'
And then the reviews started coming in. They weren't great. They weren't particularly scathing, but we weren't looking at 90% scores on Rotten Tomatoes, ala Argo.
Continue reading: Lee Daniels' 'The Butler' Is The Quiet Success Story Of The Year
The civil rights drama beat out Jeff Wadlow's ultra-violent comic-book movie.
Kick-Ass 2 – the follow up to 2010’s smash hit Kick-Ass – was expected to build up on its predecessor’s success by dominating the box office. But a slew of negative reviews have led to a fourth place finish, lagging behind Lee Daniel’s The Butler - starring Forest Whitaker.
Whitaker is The Butler - Cecil Gaines - in Lee Daniel's The Butler
The Civil Rights drama grabbed an impressive $25m on its opening weekend, possibly due to an all-star cast featuring Oprah Winfrey and Cuba Gooding Jr. and possibly due to a strong set of reviews. Either way, Lee Daniels will be delighted with the early response to his film.
Continue reading: Unexpected Triumph For 'The Butler' Over 'Kick-Ass 2' At The Box Office
The box office brings one surprise and several disappointments.
In a surprising turn of events, it was Lee Daniels’ The Butler and not Kick-Ass 2 that took the Friday box office. The historicald drama, which tracks the life of White House butler Cecil gaines through eight presidents’ terms, is also poised to take this weekend’s box office. Reports of the movie’s Friday earnings vary slightly, with The Hollywood Reporter placing them at $8.3 million, while according to the L.A. Times the movie took in around $9 million on the first night of the weekend.
This weekend sees a whole host of new releases.
We won’t know the final figures of the weekend box office until, quite obviously, the end of the weekend, but right now, the fight between Kick-Ass 2 and Lee Daniels’ The Butler is looking pretty tight.
Will The Butler come out as a surprise weekend hit?
The Butler, a based-on-a-true-story historical drama has been promoted to and fro over the past couple of weeks. While the critics have deemed the direction somewhat patchy and undecided, everyone has been impressed with the performances of Forest Whitaker and co., even earning this film some early Oscar buzz.
Daniels went down the 'known' route, and it seems to have paid off.
The Butler – officially known as Lee Daniel’s The Butler – has been well-received by the critics of late. Particularly lauded has been the all-star cast, but the decision to cast such a famous bunch wasn’t an easy one for Daniels.
Terrence Howard and Oprah Winfrey in The Butler.
“I had a choice of going with unknown or known actors. I decided to roll the dice and go with knowns. Partially because I liked the idea of the audience getting to unknow the actors, people think they know, but we could change those perceptions of who they are,” Daniels told Fastcocreate.com.
The first batch of reviews for 'Lee Daniel's The Butler' are in, and the overall verdict is that the film is an emotional roller-coaster; a factor that sometimes leads to it's failings
Lee Daniel's The Butler is the semi-fact-based tale of Eugene Allen; the long-standing manservant of the White House who, for over thirty years, from 1952 to 1986, served under eight different presidents.
Forest Whitaker as 'The Butler'
Forest Whitaker stars as Cecil Gaines - the character based on Allen - in the ensemble film, which already has critics singing its praises. Based on The Washington Post article 'A Butler Well Served by This Election' and adapted for the screen by Danny Strong, the film features no end of big names, with Oprah Winfrey starring as Cecil's wife, Gloria, and with appearances from Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Mariah Carey, Vanessa Redgrave and a number of famous faces brought in to portray some of the historical figures present in the film, The Butler could already be one of the top contenders for Oscar glory next year.
Keisha Whitaker, Autumn Whitaker and Forest Whitaker - Premiere Of The Weinstein Company's "Lee Daniels' The Butler" Held at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live - Los Angeles, California, United States - Tuesday 13th August 2013
The part fact-based story of the live-in manservant of the White House will be released next week and already it has critics singing it's praise
The Butler movie could very well be the first real contender for next year's Academy Awards when it is released next Friday (16 August) as critics have already singled the film out as a wonderfully acted, well told story worthy of award recognition. Covering the course of thirty years and eight presidents, some of the most important moments in the history of the 20th century are retold from the unique point of view from within the presidential chambers.
Forest Whitaker stars as the fictional butler Cecil Gains in the film
Starring Forest Whitaker, The Butler covers the extensive career of Cecil Gains, a devoted butler for the White House who was born on a southern cotton farm and rose from humble origins as a kitchen worker to eventually become the top butler to eight different presidents over the course of more than 30 years; including John F Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower. Despite serving a series of conflicting presidents, Cecil never forgot his duties and always presents himself as the upmost professional, no matter what is happening in the world.
The main stars from the New York premiere of 'The Butler' arrive on the red carpet including title star Forest Whitaker with his wife Keisha Nash, Jane Fonda who plays former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Terrence Howard who plays Howard and James Marsden who stars as a very young President John F. Kennedy.
Check out our extended clips and pictures below
Hollywood and the film industry seem more confident in taking on the issue of slavery in a cinematic context. Last year saw Django Unchained and Lincoln prove popular, and this year will see more films of that ilk, including Lee Daniels' The Butler, which enjoyed its premiere last night (Monday, Aug 5) in New York.
Whitaker is The Butler
The film follows Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) – an African-American White House butler who, due to his close proximity, was privy to many of the political events that helped shaped contemporary America. The film is based on the real-life account of Eugene Allen.
Continue reading: Lee Daniel's 'The Butler' Is A Clear Oscar Contender [Stills + Clips]
Mariah Carey appeared alongside Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker on the red carpet sporting an adorned arm injury.
'The Butler' looks set to be one of the most memorable movies of the year with an all-star cast that glittered on the red carpet at the New York premiere last night (August 5th 2013).
Sparkling the brightest was Oprah Winfrey in a pretty pink sequined gown with her hair in full afro form, alongside her onscreen husband Forest Whitaker who plays the title role, and her real partner Stedman Graham. Nursing a dislocated shoulder in a funky studded sling was Mariah Carey, who has not been letting her injury get in the way of anything she does at the moment as this wasn't the first time she has stepped out in a quirky bling sling. Some of the presidents from the movie also showed up, including Liev Schreiber who played Lyndon B. Johnson and James Marsden who was John F. Kennedy, as well as First Ladies Minka Kelly as Jackie Kennedy and Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan.
Forest Whitaker plays the title character in 'The Butler'
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