8.30PM, 7FLIX ★★★
A simple, effective drama inspired by the life of Eugene Allen, who served as head butler at the White House for 34 years. He is represented by the character of Cecil Gaines (played by Forest Whitaker), who becomes a silent witness to the best and worst decisions made by eight consecutive US presidents. In other hands, Gaines might have wound up as Forrest Gump in a dinner suit. However, Whitaker’s graceful restraint keeps proceedings on an even keel throughout. The cast of The Butler is diverse, to say the very least. Some of the presidents work (Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, Liev Schreiber as Lyndon B. Johnson). Some do not (John Cusack as Richard Nixon, James Marsden as JFK). Not the most subtle of movies overall, but it does have some valid insights into the evolution of modern race relations in America.