Scripting News: The Butler — feh.

It’s been a really awful summer for movies, at least the ones I’ve gotten to see — they’ve all been terrible or just boring. So I decided to change my strategy and avoid the blockbusters and science fiction movies that I had been going to, and go to movies that the critics liked. So I went to see Blue Jasmine over the weekend and The Butler yesterday.

About Blue Jasmine, I keep hoping someday Woody Allen will make another of his classics like Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters. Or even one of the total comedic farces like Bananas or Take The Money And Run. Zelig!

Blue Jasmine didn’t do it for me. I didn’t care about the characters. Never got into the plot (not much happened). There wasn’t much for the mind. A few nice visuals, but they were both cities I knew well (NY and SF). Eh.

The Butler sounded like just my kind of movie. Politics! Great ideas. History. The White House. Race. Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding, and cameos from Robin Williams, Vanessa Redgrave and more. And the NYT loved it. But it was awful. A stitched-together set of scenes. None of the characters got us to care. The laughs when they came were forced. I don’t want to spoil what little plot there is, but this one didn’t hold my attention either. I was sitting in the theater working out programming problems like the guy in the funny graphic.

It was a little like Forrest Gump (hey another Forest) but that was good entertainment. Maybe it’s time finally to stop treating that period of history as magical. Maybe if there had never been a flashback to the sixties before, then perhaps this might have been an interesting movie. But this idea has been done so many times, and done better. The Butler is proof that it’s enough already, at least until someone has a fresh approach.

There was one nice thing, they cast Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan. Anyone who loved Reagan is very likely to hate that idea. But they did make Reagan look pretty good, compared to Nixon who was a drunken asshole in the movie, so there’s that.

I’m still waiting for the Great Movie of 2013. Even a good one would be nice.

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About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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