QUEEN OF KATWE

“Sometimes the place you are used to is not the place you belong,” the master tells the student, perfectly encapsulating the hero’s journey in one sentence. Sure it’s on the nose, but so are many lines from Queen of Katwe including this gem: “In chess, the small one can become the big one.” Queen of Katwe, the latest live-action movie from Walt Disney Pictures, is an unabashed, unashamed, inspirational underdog story about Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga), a poor teenager from Katwe — a slum outside of Uganda’s capital, Kampala — who’s life does not extend beyond her daily job of … Continue reading QUEEN OF KATWE

LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER

Lee Daniels' The Butler - Poster

It opens with an image of two dead black men, lynched, with an American flag flapping in the breeze. A quote from Martin Luther King appears. It’s clear from the start, Lee Daniels’ The Butler is a political movie, but Jean-Luc Godard reminded us, “All art is political”. It has a very clear opinion and point of view, and I give it a lot of credit for embracing it. Far too often a movie tries to hedge its bets and not offend this side of the aisle or that. They attempt to cloak the story in a suicidal mission of historical accuracy, making people believe that what they see on the screen was true to how it happened in real life. Who can be offended by history? Nothing seen on the screen is how it happened in real life. All movies based on true events, inspired by real accounts, and from a true story are in essence historical fictions because they reconstruct history. That is fine, that is what they need to be, but as long as we are reconstructing history, can’t we go ahead and comment? Can’t we view these events through a prism of one’s own point of view? Isn’t that why we go to the movies in the first place? To see someone else’s story unfold for us, to see and understand his or her viewpoint? Atticus Fitch taught Scout that, “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them”. We may not be able to walk around in Cecil Gain’s well-worn dress shoes, but thanks to director Lee Daniels and screenwriter Danny Strong, we can see the world through the eyes of Cecil Gains. From the cotton fields of the Jim Crow south to a White House butler for eight Presidents. The great American myth is that of Horatio Alger, a country where anyone can become more than the place of their birth, from rags to riches. Cecil is that myth incarnate. He shows that hard work opens the door, luck takes you through, but humility is what keeps you there.

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