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Santa Barbara Fetes Forest Whitaker

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It was a cold night in Santa Barbara, one of the more beautiful places on the planet. The ocean stretches out longways on your left. On your right, giant homes dot the hillside, twinkling lights within. The Kirk Douglas award was being held at the Bacara resort, an opulent palace hooked over the sea. Oscars 2013 was coming to a close. I was on my way to see Forest Whitaker,…

Lenny Kravitz and Lee Daniels’ The Butler

Lenny Kravitz and Lee Daniels’ The Butler

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My eleventh birthday was at the beginning of 1998. I remember a series of very formative years growing up, where Lenny Kravitz was a dominating force on what we didn’t know at the time was the dying breath of commercial radio and televised music videos, both of which still felt like art forms. Kravitz had already spent a decade reaching increasing cultural significance with a sound and style that combined,…

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Forest Whitaker to Receive Santa Barbara Film Fest’s Kirk Douglas Award

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The first big get of the season is Forest Whitaker being honored for the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence for the upcoming Santa Barbara Film Fest.  The fest is always in the best position — just before the Oscar race starts in full.  Whitaker’s work in Lee Daniels’ The Butler is among the year’s best in a very competitive year for Best Actor. They haven’t announced presenters yet but Oprah…

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The State of the Race: The Ghosts of Our American Past Told Through Three Movies

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2013 will end up being about a lot of things when the dust settles. It will be yet another year where most of the films in the Best Picture race are driven by the male narrative — give or take a Gravity. It will be the year that directing vets like Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, George Clooney, David O. Russell take on the new guard, like Steve McQueen,…

Lee Daniels’ The Butler Takes Number One for Third Consecutive Weekend

Lee Daniels’ The Butler Takes Number One for Third Consecutive Weekend

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Only three Best Picture nominees have ever been number one for 3 consecutive weeks, and no black writer/director is among them. This film should hit $100 million without blinking.  Here is how dominance at the box office has helped a film get a Best Picture nod, at the very least. Three weeks at number one: Unforgiven (winner) Erin Brockovich The Help A Few Good Men Inception Fellowship of the Ring…

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Why The Butler, Why Now

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Now that The Butler has taken the box office for the second week in a row, on fewer screens than its competition, the speculative conversation is upon us. In a private email chat with Kris Tapley and Anne Thompson, they said they were certain that Oprah single-handedly opened the film. And that its box-office strength is being driven by her popularity. No doubt Oprah’s name is helping sell tickets, but…

The Butler, a Critics Pick by the NY Times, High Praise from Key Critics

The Butler, a Critics Pick by the NY Times, High Praise from Key Critics

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These days, with film criticism, there aren’t many of the good ones left. Too many film reviews now seem like they are product reviews for shampoo or an airplane seat. Very few of them really deliver the kind of in-depth insight film criticism has always been at its best. Perhaps that’s because of the time frame necessary to bolt out reviews now; there just isn’t much time to really construct…

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Fine early notices for The Butler, Oprah is “Electrifying”

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The jury is still out on whether audiences will take to Lee Daniels’ The Butler. I suspect they might find in this film one of the more satisfying two hours at the movies in a good, long time.   The critics seem somewhat divided, with many offering up conditional raves.  But it’s charmed two notoriously tough to please outlets so far.  Slant magazine, not known for their effusive praise, has…

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New Clip from Lee Daniels’ The Butler

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Oprah dances with Forest Whitaker in this new clip from Lee Daniels’ The Butler: Another clip is over at People.com

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New Poster for The Butler

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I think this poster is a better teaser for the film – the embargo lifts on it fairly soon so I’ll be able to give you my thoughts.