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Forest Whitaker, David Oyelowo Fight Over Sidney Poitier's Relevance In New Clip From 'The Butler'

by Tambay A. Obenson
July 9, 2013 6:01 PM
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"The Butler."
"The Butler."

Welp... Here's a first clip from Lee Daniels' The Butler - a film currently in the middle of a legal battle between its distributor, The Weinstein Company, and their opponent, Warner Bros.

The film which covers several decades in the life of Eugene Allen, the White House butler who served many presidents, and is loaded with a cast that includes: Forest WhitakerOprah WinfreyDavid OyelowoColman DomingoJohn CusackAlan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Melissa LeoLiev SchreiberJesse WilliamsAml AmeenLenny Kravitz, Cuba Gooding Jr and many more.

Music for the film is composed by the legendary Quincy Jones.

Laura Ziskin Production, The Butler is produced by Pamela Oas Williams, the late Laura Ziskin, Lee Daniels, and Cassian Elwes. It's executive produced by Hilary Shor and Adam Merims; and co-produced by David Jacobson.

My opinion may not be the most popular, but absolutely nothing that I've seen of this film thus far makes me want to see it. Nada! And this clip (while the debate being had was indeed a very real one during the time the film takes place) only discourages me even more. 

I'll certainly see the film when I get the opportunity to do so, and will share my thoughts afterward.

Check out the clip below, which sees father (Whitaker) and son (Oyelowo) fight over ideas and mother (Winfrey) try to mediate.

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  • CopiousHill | July 18, 2013 8:14 PMReply

    What all this overacting stuff, we often overact ourselves, job interviews, social functions, first dates, etc.. The difference is we are not apart of a multimillion dollar movie project. These are professionals trying to tell a story about someone most of us didn't even know about. Like most projects centered around blacks it tends to get a more critical eye, and that's unfortunate, but we live with it and move on, and in this case hoping to be inspired at the same time. Even if we deem the movie not to be Oscar caliber, at least we would have engaged with a piece of history untold in our American History books (if it is correct me).

    I understand we are giving our opinion because we enjoy watching movies, honest debate is always good. The good news is it got us talking. The cast of characters that are in this movie, honestly how often is it that you see these caliber of actors and actresses in one film, and these are not just cameos, to convince them to be apart of telling this story is commendable, and for them to accept it says they believe the story should be told. One of the challenges of seeing these films is that once again we get to see how Blacks/Negroes were treated, we are always reminded of how they lived as lower class citizens. I don't think they are overacting, I think that the era did call for a lot of emotion, perhaps our seeing them in other films has given us a more critical eye. IJS..

  • Peggy | July 15, 2013 4:26 AMReply

    It looks fine to me. We finally get another movie that is about black people (like Precious). It's not setting off any warning bells outside of the "veering towards Lifetime MOW territory".

  • Donella | July 11, 2013 1:20 PMReply

    I liked all the players in the scene. I'm going to watch the movie.

  • reece | July 10, 2013 5:39 PMReply

    Not a fan of the comments at all. Don't like Lee Daniels, don't like Tyler Perry, don't like...... BORING.

  • Jameka Wills | July 10, 2013 5:38 PMReply

    ...Wait aren't you the same guy who wrote, directed and starred in Beautiful Things? Bwhaaa haaa haa! Boy Bye!!

  • Man-Over-Bored | July 10, 2013 1:34 PMReply

    All you Black Film apologists, come on now! You know the acting in this clip is over the top, and that, as always, Oprah's over-emoting, and ostensibly still hasn't taken time out of running her justifiably-successful billion-dollar media empire to take an acting class. I ain't hating, but damn. I will give it a chance, catch it on Netflix, and inevitably enjoy some aspects of it--as I do with all Lee Daniel's films. Hell, I even found a moment or two of bright life in the godawful "Paperboy"--now how's that for persistence and commitment. (But please, let's not throw quality and high standards under the bus for that proverbial "mess of pottage" that we call the chance to see our cultural images and stories onscreen!)

  • Mark | July 14, 2013 8:10 PM

    Ehhh, the problem is that, at least in this clip, Oyelewo and Oprah's characters seem to be mouthing some really unnatural dialogue that it would be nearly impossible to make sound like they are coming from a real person and not a mouthpiece for a certain POV. And really haven't we seen this confrontation before in about 30 TV movies with Cicely Tyson?

    Biopics are generally comfort food, with flat supporting characters existing only to provide either support or antagonism for the biopic's subject. It's Oscar-bait for Whittaker and Winfrey, that's about it. I generally avoid these kinds of movies, but especially if I know there's going to be a scene where someone gets slapped for sassin.'

  • CC | July 10, 2013 5:41 PM

    Man-Over-Bored, great comments, I'm stealing some. In particular...

    "mess of pottage"

    "Black Film apologists"

    "Oprah's over-emoting"

    "I even found a moment or two of bright life in the godawful "Paperboy"

    Damn M-O-B, if I had your hand I wouldn't need mine.

  • Helluva | July 10, 2013 9:59 AMReply

    I want to see this but the ACTING is BAD in this scene COLLECTIVELY, which leads me to believe that it's a director's issue. Oprah especially seems to hit the wrong notes, all around. Even her makeup looks off. Maybe Daniels is out of his element when not doing risque, sex-fueled scenes I don't know. The concept of the film is not an issue for me but poor direction of (generally) good actors is a huge deterrent.

  • Anonymous | July 10, 2013 12:45 AMReply

    The acting seems bad? Really, Ladybug? And CC, David overacts in every one of his movies? Really? Have you seen Ava Duvernay's "Middle of Nowhere" or "Jack Reacher" or "96 Minutes"? And Forest? Have you seen "Powder Blue" or "Vantage Point" or "Fragments"?

    Anyway, we're seeing this "Butler" clip way out of context as the film has yet to be released. And also how do we dismiss the remote possibility of this movie actually having some substance in favor of bashing actors and their performances in a 1 minute clip? And yet we continue to kiss the ground of some of these other films made by "us" if you catch my drift that are questionable from a content and execution standpoint.

    Cedric said it best how we view works of color vs. other. But I'll add with all due respect to this blog it seems that just about every artist, feature, short or web series that is featured here on this blog is torn to shreds by either its readership or staff.

    Yes we should demand the best in art. Yes art is subjective. Yes it's a free country. But we got to do better than this, ya'll. We still support the same old crap mainstream wise and that's why we continue to complain about what the industry is producing. If we boycott the truly wretched flicks it will reflect at the box office and the industry will have no choice but to respond.

    It seems like every time there's a movie that deals with people of color and period drama nobody wants to see it. Not saying these movies in question are necessarily perfect. But many of us actually boycotted "Red Tails", "The Help", "The Great Debaters", "Blood Done Sign My Name", and now "The Butler".

    Things that make you go "Hmm!"

  • CC | July 10, 2013 2:54 AM

    No Mr. Whatsyourname, I have not seen Middle of Nowhere nor Jack Reacher, but I stand by my opinion of Oyelowo's acting. And yes, I've seen all of Forest's movies that you mentioned and a few you didn't (Freelancers with 50 cents, Catch .44 and The Experience). Where should we start? One note sad and confused looking Forest in Fragments and Powder Blue or the over acting Forest in Freelancers and The Experience?

    But listen, I believe you have the wrong guy. I will give credit where credit is due. I didn't boycott "Red Tails" but I have no problem saying it was a lousy campy flick and most of the acting was waaaaaaaay over the top. On the other hand, The Help was an enjoyable movie with exceptional acting. And, I've used The Great Debaters as an educational tool for groups of adults who found themselves in various "storms".

    In reference to "us" kissing the ground of some of these other films made by "us" that are questionable from a content and execution standpoint, if you've been reading this blog you'd certainly know I am not in that crowd. In fact, in my opinion there are but a small few films made by "us" over the past 10 years that I would champion as a cut above the rest -- to say the least. In other words, the color of the actor, director and producer's skin has absolutely no bearing on how I perceive their skills.

    In short, granted, this is only a 1 minute clip, but from what we've seen, if you can believe Oyelowo as the black American militant, I think you'd be open to the suggestion that Sergio is Terrence Howard's daddy. I am serious, the only thing Sergio and Terrence have in common is their skin color and the same can be said about David. He is black but he just does not capture nor project the image of any black American militant that I've been around or seen over the years. He simply looks like he's acting.

    Btw, what's this about-->"And also how do we dismiss the remote possibility of this movie actually having some substance"

    Substance? Please explain. And, it should be noted that I said I will pay to see this film. I've enjoyed every Lee Daniels' film so I know I'll be entertained. But again, this clip was nothing to write home about.

  • CC | July 9, 2013 11:37 PMReply

    Psssssssssst... Darkan and Ladybug, let me put this bug in y'all ear. Now listen, you're not crazy nor alone and don't tell nobody but Forest and David have been overacting for the last 10 years.

    I saw David Oyelowo in Lincoln, The Paper Boy, Red Tails and Rise of The Planet Of The Apes. In each film he OVERACTED. To me he always looks like a little boy in a grown-ups job.

    And poor Forest, he had his moments but as of late he's a one note over-actor. Check that, after The Last King Of Scotland, I can't think of any one of his movies that I'd recommend. So, over the last 7 years, not 10, his acting has been questionable.

    And, although I love me some Oprah (no woman can match her greatness) I have to say this may not be her finest hour. Maybe she should stick with playing Sophia and that women from Brewster Place, but from what I've seen in this flick, overacting is running rampant.

    However, they're still going to get my money. Yep, I mean, that's what I do... I watch movies. And, who knows, Lee Daniels might pull a rabbit out of...

  • CC | July 15, 2013 12:58 AM

    "I simply wanted to understand where you were coming from."

    And I simply answered you. So I don't what you're inferring. Picking a fight? Butthurt?

    Okay, we're done.

  • Mark | July 14, 2013 10:40 PM

    Oh please, no one's trying to pick a fight, butthurt because you said bad things about an actor. I simply wanted to understand where you were coming from.

  • CC | July 14, 2013 9:16 PM

    No Mark, I'm not going down that road. I mean, excuse me if I am wrong, but based on your question "what's over-acting" it's obvious you're a fan of David Oyelowo (everyone knows what constitutes "overacting"). So it does not behoove me to point out (to you) David's inappropriate voice tones, eye movements, cadence, body language, etc .

    Btw, a person can overact in less than one minute. The above clip lasted how long?

  • mark | July 14, 2013 8:01 PM

    Might help me understand what you mean if you could be a little more specific. "overacting" doesn't tell me much.

    Oyelewo was in LINCOLN for about two minutes. How do you get him overacting out of that bit part?

  • CC | July 10, 2013 3:13 AM

    *LOL*.... stop it Miles. But since you opened the door, I know Lee is out of the closet, but do they pull rabbits out of their a$$ or... ;-(

  • Miles Ellison | July 9, 2013 11:50 PM

    His ass?

  • Darkan | July 9, 2013 11:01 PMReply

    Is it me or does it seem like the clip was edited funny and there is a lot of over acting in that scene. Sorry, I'm Tambay on this one. That clip just leads me to not wanting to see it any more than I already didn't want to.

  • Blackman | July 9, 2013 10:36 PMReply

    Who are you again? In the scheme of are NADA. No - Thing compared to the names you typed above. Stay in your place - immigrant.

    Besides, this AINT yo his-story. BTW, wtf is your history? I doubt you know it. Africans only know about their mothercountry - Britian. LOL

  • Carl | July 9, 2013 10:39 PM

    Please sit your ignorant ass down and shut the fuck up. As usual, you are making a fool of yourself. If an asshole like you can type your thoughts, so can he bitch.

  • raoul | July 9, 2013 9:45 PMReply

    oohhhh! .....I can't wait

  • Cedric | July 9, 2013 8:04 PMReply

    I love how we lament on and on about other folks' tales being told on a consistent basis, but when our stories are told, we say 'I don't wanna see it'. Thanks, T!

  • LeonRaymond | July 9, 2013 8:49 PM

    @CEDRIC Mean while I know so many Black folks that ran and I mean ran to see THE LONE RANGER but line up to comment how they will not give this film a chance!!!

  • Ladybug | July 9, 2013 8:34 PM

    I don't think the story so much as the trailer and the clip . . . well the acting just seems bad . . . It's not sitting well with me either

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