Wednesday 21 March 2018

Reel Life: Declan Cashin ponders what's in a name

Forest Whitaker in The Butler
Forest Whitaker in The Butler

Declan Cashin

By now you might have caught the trailer for the upcoming movie The Butler, a star-studded historical biopic starring Forest Whitaker as Cecil Gaines, who worked as a servant for eight US presidents from 1952 to 1986.

If you haven't watched it yet, you should, if for no other reason that it's often unintentionally hilarious.

The film – directed by Lee Daniels, whose previous work, Precious and The Paperboy proves that subtlety isn't really is his thing – comes across as being almost satirically cheesy, while its stunt casting is often astounding: Oprah Winfrey, making a blatant play for an Oscar, stars as Gaines' wife, while Robin Williams plays Dwight Eisenhower, Alan Rickman and Jane Fonda are Ronald and Nancy Reagan and John Cusack, rather bizarrely, plays Richard Nixon.

Anyway, the movie has been the subject of a strange controversy for the past few weeks, caused when Warner Brothers requested a title change to avoid confusion with a short comedy film of the same made by that studio – back in 1916.

Now it seems The Butler will have to be released under a different title later this year.

Q But the hubbub over the rights to the title of The Butler does bring to mind other movie titles that ended up being changed late into production – and more often than not for the better.

For instance, Spaceman From Pluto doesn't quite have the same effect as Back to The Future, now does it?

Ditto for Not Tonight Josephine (Some Like It Hot), Black Mask (eventually Pulp Fiction), Everybody Comes to Rick's (Casablanca), Star Beast (Alien), Affairs Of The Heart (Fatal Attraction), When I Grow Up (Big), the charming The Cut Whore Killings (Unforgiven) and the downright insensitive Take It Like A Man (Boys Don't Cry).

That being said, Reel Life would have liked to have seen the marketing folk trying to sell The Tribal Nights of the New Saturday Night, as opposed to the far catchier Saturday Night Fever.

Q 'The Pictures' screenings for over-55s are back at axis: Ballymun this summer. July's pick is Jaws on July 29, while next month's is Rear Window (August 26). Tickets cost €2 for members/€4 for non-members. See

Q The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival is seeking feature length and documentary submissions for next year's line-up. The standard deadline is August 31, and the late deadline is September 30. Submissions must be over 60 mins and Irish premieres. See

Q Last year, a YouTube supercut of "Sorkinisms" – recurring words, phrases of dialogue and even storylines in the movie and TV work of The Social Network and The West Wing scribe Aaron Sorkin – went viral, and this week a follow-up hit the net. You can find it by searching for "Sorkinisms II – The Sequel".

Q Finally, Reel Life spent most of last week on a beach in the Middle East, and the holiday read of choice this year was Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson, a cracking little thriller that's like Gillian Flynn's bestseller Gone Girl meets Christopher Nolan's Memento.

Watson's book is currently being made into a movie (filming now in London) starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Anne Marie Duff. It's a tale with whiplash-inducing twists so get reading it now before the movie hype (and spoilers) sets in.

Irish Independent

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