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Caryn James

Oprah and Forest Whitaker in 'Lee Daniels' The Butler'

  • By Caryn James
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  • August 26, 2013 10:27 PM
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Lee Daniels' The Butler is some serious, probably effective Oscar bait. It is also -- these things so often go together -- audience-pandering History Lite. Forest Whitaker, as a butler who serves at the White House through eight Presidents, from Eisenhower to Reagan, gives a dazzling performance; he is by far the film's greatest strength. But even he can't make up for a movie calculated to spoon feed viewers a civil rights lesson that lets us feel good about the country's progress, without adding much substance or nuance to the conversation.

'The Paperboy': Nicole, Zac and Alligators

  • By Caryn James
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  • October 4, 2012 9:11 AM
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  • 1 Comment
On screen in The Paperboy and on stage at the New York Film Festival press conference afterwards, Nicole Kidman seemed – and this is compliment though it may not sound like one—less plastic than she has in the recent past. She is fearless and pretty convincing in the film. If she looks too well-scrubbed and well-dressed for the character – Charlotte, a woman you can only call trashy, who writes sexy letters to prisoners and falls in love with a convicted killer – you can almost justify it because her Barbie look fits the conventions of Lee Daniels’s pulpy psycho-sexual drama. As Daniels explained in his part of the press conference, he wanted the film, set in 1969, to reflect the colors and style of a 70’s thriller.

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