August 16, 2013, - 5:57 pm
Nothing too great debuting at movie theaters, today, but the choices are vastly better than last week’s selection.
* “Jobs“: I had mixed feelings about this movie. It was very long–much longer than its two-hours-two-minutes run time and seemed to go on forever, hitting apparently every turn and project in Steve Jobs’ career. Ashton Kutcher does a pretty good–if slightly stilted–job portraying Jobs, based on the articles and features I’ve seen on the Apple co-founder. But, then, he is naturally a semi-doppelganger for Jobs, and that helps tremendously.
If you’ve read a few articles about Steve Jobs, there’s probably nothing new in this for you. The movie shows Jobs to be at once a genius and a creep, which is supposed to be fairly accurate. The movie also shows the value of hard work (to go with G-d-given talent), which probably inspired Kutcher’s recent acclaimed speech at the “Kids’ Choice Awards” about the importance of hard work. The movie shows several of the kids who helped Jobs found Apple, along with Steve Wozniak (loathsome liberal and Mormon-hater Josh Gad), and how Jobs ripped them off and cut them out of any chance at Apple stock. At the end of the movie, stay through the credits, and it shows you how much the actors, who played the various cast of Apple innovators, looked like the real thing.
There’s nothing objectionable or wrong with this movie and it’s somewhat entertaining. I just thought it was a little dull, especially given the magic that Steve Jobs’ genius inspired.
Also, the movie does not go into Jobs’ later life, with the introduction of the iPod, transforming the music biz forever and the iPhone smart phone revolution. There’s nothing on Jobs’ last days, first turning to alternative healing instead of medicine to fight off pancreatic cancer and then succumbing to it. There is little about his adoption, except a mention at the very beginning, even though, in real life, Jobs used a private detective to find out who his birth parents–an academic and a Syrian Arab Muslim immigrant (who abandoned him)–were and choosing deliberately never to meet the birth father or identify with him whatsoever. Those things might have made the movie a little more interesting and less one-dimensional (with the dimension being the focus on his innovations in computers).
One annoying thing about the movie: it shows Kutcher as Jobs walking several times and walking with a very strange gait. I’m told that this was deliberate and that Jobs did walk that way. But it was distracting and unnecessary.
If anything, the movie garners more respect for Ashton Kutcher than Jobs (whose story has already been chronicled plenty of times). Until now, Kutcher played dopes in silly movies and was known for dumb hijinks on “Punked” and as the guy who cheated on, then was dumped by, and is now in an endless divorce with cougar Demi Moore. Now, he’s played someone more serious and accomplished, and with it, he will be seen as such himself.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Lee Daniels’ The Butler“: Two-and-a-half extremely tedious hours of race merchant grievance theater, prefaced by a gazillion previews filled with race merchant grievance theater movie trailers (a Mandela movie, some Brad Pitt movie about a free Black man kidnapped and forced to be a slave, and so on–I thought I was gonna be beaten by the others in the entirely Black audience when a trailer popped up for the Tom Hanks movie in which he plays the captain of the ship hijacked by Somalian Islamic terrorists).
Yes, slavery and horrible treatment of Blacks happened. It’s a fact of American history, and there’s no denying it. But I felt I was being lectured to. I felt like this movie was a continuing campaign commercial for Barack Obama (and it is–he’s the only President treated with absolute respect and gushing in this movie, even though he’s not portrayed in any speaking roles or by any actors here). And I felt like here is yet another movie in which the N-word is used to bait modern-day Black Americans who see it to justify the anti-White racism that dominates that community and endless affirmative action, minority set-asides and other race-based government unfairness as “payback.”
If your mind isn’t filled with enough “visions” of Oprah scowling and pretending to talk Ebonics, then this is your movie. For everyone else, it’s waaaaaay toooooo loooooong and self-indulgent, and it tries to be at once a catalog of the civil rights movement AND the Black Forest Gump (in the sense that every important event in the civil rights movement and every President’s reaction to it either touches the butler who is the lead in this movie or his son).
Oh, and the narrative is that Blacks who work hard and try to make it in America–like the Black butler in the White House–are taking the wrong tack, and that Black militance and supremacy is better. And while the movies is supposed to be based on the true story of former White House butler, Eugene Allen, it’s mostly fiction. Among the few things the real life butler Allen and the one in this movie had in common: they both were White House butlers, both grew up on a plantation, and they were both Black. The rest is made up to rile emotions, not all of them positive.
The story: Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) is treated like a slave, as are his parents (his mom is Mariah Carey). His father is shot dead by the White plantation owner’s son after the son rapes Gaines’ mother and Gaines asks his father to say something. Gaines is raised to be a “housen—er” by the plantation owner (the loathsome fan of Islamic terrorists, Vanessa Redgrave), and ultimately leaves the plantation, getting a job at a local hotel, where the Black head butler teachers him how to serve people. Then, he works at a Washington, DC hotel, where he is recommended and chosen for a job as a White House butler. He is married to Oprah Winfrey, an alcoholic whiner who is hit on by their neighbor. They have two sons. One serves in Vietnam and is killed there.
The other son is a Black militant and joins the Black Panthers. All his life, the militant son is involved in civil rights protests and marches and gets arrested and beaten. While the butler is distant from his son–because he disapproves of his son’s radicalism and believes in hard work and going along with the White men in the White House–he ultimately regrets that choice, quits working at the White House, and joins his son at a protest against apartheid at the South African Embassy.
Several actors play the various Presidents (Robin Williams is a convincing Harry Truman, Liev Schreiber is Lyndon Johnson, and so on), but the President most unfairly maligned is Ronald Reagan (played by Palestinian terrorist fan Alan Rickman, who looks and sounds NOTHING like Reagan). Although the movie shows that Reagan is the only President who finally got involved and made sure the Black White House servants were paid the same as their White counterparts and considered for promotions, it is an invitation by the Reagans to the butler and his wife that spurs the butler to hate the Reagans and his life at the White House, to do a 180 and quit his job, and to support his son’s militance. He says that he and his wife were only invited to the dinner so that they could be shown off as “Black Reagan friends” at a time that Reagan opposed sanctions against South Africa’s apartheid regime. But there is no evidence of that.
In real life, Eugene Allen’s son served in Vietnam, but came home alive. In reality, his wife was not an annoying drunk like Oprah (thankfully for him!). He did NOT have a militant Black Panther son, and was not spurred into protesting at the South African Embassy or quitting in disgust at the Reagans. That was all baloney. Just made up to bolster race merchant grievance theater a la Oprah. Slate has a great summary of what is and isn’t true in the life story of Allen versus what’s in this movie.
A few other things on Reagan. The movie shows Reagan telling the butler that he secretly sends money to people who write the White House telling of their financial troubles, and he asks the butler to help him continue the practice in secret after Reagan’s staff and Nancy (Hanoi Hilton Jane Fonda) want it stopped. That was nice. The movie also shows Nancy telling the staff that there are too many conservatives on foreign policy surrounding her husband and she wants more moderates surrounding him so that they can thaw the Cold War with the Soviets. But the real life Nancy Reagan was a staunch anti-Communist when she met Ronald Reagan and got him interested in her politics and politics in general. Yes, she was a liberal on social issues, but not the Cold War, so this simply isn’t accurate.
Also, when it comes to civil rights, I had a personal experience with President Reagan on this. I met the President several times, and when I first met him in 1986 (or ’87), I asked him a question about affirmative action, how unfair it was, and when he’d get rid of it in government and public universities. He responded with a non-answer, telling me how he deplored racism and anti-Semitism, and how he was fired (or quit) as a lifeguard after standing up for Blacks and Jews where he was lifeguarding.
In any event, aside from being complete fiction (which unfortunately people will believe is a true story of an actual Black White House butler), “The Butler” is just long, boring, tiresome, and way too damned didactic.
The best I can say about this movie is that the costuming/wardrobe is fabulous. For everything else, no thank you.
THREE JESSE JACKSONS PLUS THREE AL SHARPTONS PLUS TWO OBAMAS
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Kick-Ass 2“: I enjoyed the first Kick Ass (read my review). This one, not so much. In fact, not at all. This could have and would have been a great movie, had it not been so graphically violent and bloody and so lewd in terms of language and so on. The first installment wasn’t that tame, but it was a choir boy’s movie compared to this sequel, which I cannot recommend. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t entertaining–it’s entertaining–but the explicit violence and language overpower that.
The story: Dave a/k/a “Kick-Ass” (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), the high school kid who wears a superhero outfit and goes on the streets to fight crime, is back. But Mindy a/k/a “Hit Girl” (Chloe Grace Moretz), while training him and going on the streets with him, is caught by her adopted father, who tells her she is forbidden from living that life. So Kick-Ass finds others with superhero costumes and joins them to fight crime. Their leader is a former mob hitman turned vigilante (Jim Carrey). Meanwhile, Chris D’amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) wants to avenge his father’s death at the hands of Kick-Ass, Hit Girl, and Hit Girl’s deceased father. So he declares war on them and amasses a band of villains and criminals to kill them and everyone in their superhero group.
Yes, the good guys win in the end, but that doesn’t make this worth sitting through. Not even close. Extremely violent and graphic. NOT for kids, despite the superhero theme.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Paranoia“: What originally seems like an interesting thriller turns out to be just another far-fetched anti-business liberal fantasy. The presence of bloated anti-Israel far lefty Richard Dreyfuss as the dumpy, liberal, working-class father who “knows best” should have been a hint for me. The ending of the movie and the plot end up being ridiculous.
The story: Chris Hemsworth gets caught cheating the CEO (Gary Oldman) of a large tech company out of thousands of dollars, so the CEO fires him and then blackmails him into getting a job with the competition, a company headed by Harrison Ford, so that Hemsworth can commit corporate espionage, while romancing a co-executive of his.
What could have been a good thriller turned out to be a little dull, slow-moving, and only very mildly entertaining. I am a big fan of Gary Oldman, but it’s obvious this movie was a paycheck for him. Not up to his usual standards.
Watch the trailer . . .
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