Lee Daniels Movies

lee-daniels-movies


Lee Daniels movies…yeesh, where do you begin discussing Lee Daniels movies? A lot of people don’t have many good things to say about Lee Daniels movies; even Lee Daniels’ best movie—Precious—has some pretty passionate detractors. I think Lee Daniels movies (including Precious) have a lot of problems, but there’s plenty of good among the bad, ugly, and painful.

Lee Daniels movies are unapologetically in-your-face. The Paperboy, Daniels’ oft-maligned (and fairly so) 2012 Florida noir, features alligator guts and a lot of Zac Efron in tighty whities (which isn’t even to mention Nicole Kidman). Even Precious‘ biggest fans typically think the odd fantasy sequences are overdone. And one only needs to read a plot description for Shadowboxer to realize it’s a Lee Daniels movie through and through.

Race is also an important theme in Lee Daniels movies. I won’t speak for Shadowboxer anymore (I haven’t seen it), but Precious isn’t much without its setting, and The Paperboy‘s racial subtext (as well as its handling of homosexuality) drives quite a bit of the action. Lee Daniels, part fascinatingly and part infuriatingly, is one of only two African-American directors to earn a Best Director Oscar nomination (the other is John Singleton for Boyz n the Hood). It might not be a nomination a lot of people love, but it’s undeniably given Daniels a lot of freedom to work on the projects he wants (how else do you explain something like The Paperboy getting made?). What does that mean? If you don’t like Lee Daniels movies, you better get used to them.

Lee Daniels Movies

Shadowboxer

An assassin is diagnosed with a terminal illness. With the help of her stepson/lover, she carries out one final hit.

(0 viewings)

Um, yeah, so this movie happened. The assassin is Helen Mirren. Her stepson/lover is Cuba Gooding, Jr. I mean I don’t want to see it, but at the same time, I kind of do?

Precious

Claireece “Precious” Jones is an illiterate teen in late 1980s Harlem who’s pregnant with her second child (her dad is the father of the two children). She enrolls in a progressive school for young women in similar situations in the hopes that she can rise up against her abusive mother and take back her life.

RATING:
(1 viewing)

I think I owe this film another watch. I found myself swept up in the Precious fever of late 2009, but it’s only diminished in my mind. Images of a makeup-less Mo’Nique crying to Mariah Carey are burned in my brain, but what else was there besides the performances? Maybe I’ll answer that question soon. Until I do, it remains a quality film and Lee Daniels’ best movie by a mile (well, I’ve only seen two…)

The Paperboy

A reporter moves back home to the Florida swamps after he’s asked by a woman to intervene in a case involving her fiance—a death row inmate. (Click here for my full The Paperboy review.)

RATING:
(1 viewing)

Talk about a mess of a movie. I actually really like Matthew McConaughey’s performance, but Nicole Kidman is off the rails, and John Cusack and Zac Efron are simply abysmal. The setting is fun, and the story is deliciously pulpy, but it’s all so overcooked that the carcass of what’s left is barely watchable.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler

The story of Cecil Gaines, the head White House butler for eight presidencies during the 20th century.

(0 viewings)

I really excited for this film. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment (it does appear awfully…what’s the word…emotionally on-the-nose?), but Forest Whitaker is terrific, and some of the supporting roles, I think, are going to be a hoot. Robin Williams is Dwight Eisenhower. John Cusack is Richard Nixon. Alan Rickman is Ronald Reagan. JANE FONDA IS NANCY REAGAN!!!!! Throw in Oprah, Terrence Howard, and the always excellent Forest Whitaker, and I this is a cast that could compete for a SAG Ensemble award. I’m not sure about the film’s Oscar chances, but it could be a sleeper box office hit. I’m hoping for the best. Daniels’ directorial voice is sometimes wacky, but it’s one I’m happy we have.

 

More Director Spotlight posts:
Sofia Coppola Movies
Noah Baumbach Movies
Guillermo del Toro Movies
Nicolas Winding Refn Movies
Woody Allen Movies
Christopher Nolan Movies
Jeff Nichols Movies
Lee Daniels Movies

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4 Responses to Lee Daniels Movies

  1. Steven Flores August 12, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    So far, Precious is his best work though I really didn’t like Shadowboxer which I found to be too strange and also very over-the-top at times while I also had issues with some of its framing. The Paperboy has its moments but it’s also a mess. I’m not sure I want to see The Butler because it looks like an Oscar-bait film at its worst.

    Reply
    • John Gilpatrick August 15, 2013 at 8:23 am

      Yeah, like I said about The Butler, it looks a little on-the-nose. But as a kind of gimmicky, late-summer drama, I’m onboard and excited to check it out.

      Reply
  2. Brittani August 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I enjoy Lee Daniels’ work. Like you said, he’s unapologetically in-your-face, but his movies feel very real to me, and you can tell he’s got a lot of passion for what he does. I didn’t hate The Paperboy as much as most people did, and I look forward to seeing The Butler.

    Shadowboxer is pretty amusing. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Mo’Nique are a couple, that was enough to get me to see it.

    Reply
    • John Gilpatrick August 15, 2013 at 8:23 am

      That’s a good point: There’s a passion in Daniels’ films that other directors could and should take note of.

      Reply

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