Loosely based on the life of White House butler Eugene Allen, The Butler features an all-star cast, including Forest Whitaker, Robin Williams, Jane Fonda and Oprah Winfrey, to name a few.
The plot revolves around Cecil Gaines (Whitaker), who was raised on a cotton plantation in the 1920s and serves under several notable American presidents in his 34 years of tenure at the White House. During this time, he witnesses key events in the US and the world’s history, such as the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King’s assassination.
The film has received positive reviews from most critics, and holds a 74% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Though some have called it “stodgy” and “high-minded and didactic”, critics say the film’s restraint, emotional depth and all-star performances make it a must-watch. Critics have also singled out both Whitaker and Winfrey’s performances, with one saying she demonstrates that “she’s an actress and not just a celebrity playing an actress.”
The film’s slightly formulaic Hollywood plot should not deter you from seeing a film that is already generating Oscar buzz.
Showing at: Plaza Cinema, Golden Stars Cinema (City Stars).
Johnny Knoxville is Irving Zisman in another one of the Jackass films. The story follows 86 year-old Zisman as he takes his grandson, eight-year-old Billy, across America to his father. After Zisman’s wife passes away, his short-lived freedom is interrupted when Billy shows up at his door step.
The film is characterised by a loose plot, unlike the previous Jackass films, and is a hidden camera comedy. The two main characters get themselves in unlikely situations, allegedly with people who are not privy to their stunts, and meet everyone from male strippers to pageant mums and their children. We say “allegedly” because one critic pointed out that the onlookers “occasionally look into the camera”.
It’s not very difficult to guess what you can expect from Bad Grandpa. Dave McGin from Globe and Mail said: “It’s been 11 years since Jackass: The Movie, and three since Jackass 3D, although it feels a lot longer than that.” Still others have maintained that the film can offer a few laughs and we think that sounds reasonable.
Showing at: Golf City Cinema, Renaissance City Centre, Renaissance Nile City, Renaissance Wonderland, Renaissance 6 October, Bandar and Dandy Mall.
Phantom is a cold war suspense thriller revolving around a Soviet submarine captain with a dark past, who is forced to lead a covert mission that could risk the world going to nuclear war. The film is inspired by true events and follows the tired theme of a group of men facing the impossible, although this time, they do it underwater.
The film has received generally negative reviews, owing to its substandard script and melodrama, despite employing capable actors like Ed Harris, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in A Beautiful Mind.
Laremy Legel from film.com said: “Ed Harris and company can’t lift this one off the seafloor, and ‘Phantom’ fades away into the murky mist.” Another critic said: “The film remains mediocre, with flat cinematography and crudely anachronistic dialogue.”
Not all reviews were negative, however. Salon said: “‘Phantom’ has a pulpy B-movie intensity and economy to match its cast of quality character actors.”
We don’t know who agreed to fund a cold war era film starring Ed Harris, but clearly, it wasn’t a good idea. Maybe you can wait for the MBC Action reruns.
Showing at: Renaissance City Centre, Renaissance Nile City and Renaissance 6 October. Alexandria: Renaissance Semouha.