Alan Dee’s film preview: Whitaker in the White House stands in the shadows of history

Forest Whitaker is centre stage in another slice of slightly sugary social history looking back at changing attitudes to race and class in the United States.

If you liked The Help and Driving Miss Daisy, you’ll warm to Whitaker’s noble White House servant, standing in the shadows of history but earning the respect of the world’s most powerful men, in The Butler.

Robin Williams and Forest Whitaker in The Butler

Robin Williams and Forest Whitaker in The Butler

It’s based on the true story of Cecil Westfall, who served eight US presidents over more than 30 years.

Whitaker is in commanding form, Precious director Lee Daniels tells the story straight and there’s a star-studded supporting cast of presidents and other characters.

If you’d prefer something flashier, then how does a Ridley Scott thriller grab you?

The Counsellor is an 18-rated thrill ride with Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt taking the lead roles in a tale about a lawyer who becomes a drugs trafficker.

Fassbender is the tarnished legal eagle, Pitt is the fixer and scary Javier Bardem is the drugs kingpin.

There are also roles for Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz and the words come courtesy of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy, who also scripted No Country for Old Men.

That nice young Joseph Gordon-Levitt has come along way since he first cropped up in US sitcom Third Rock From The Sun, hasn’t he?

In fact, even when he landed that role the baby-faced actor who has now graduated to bona fide leading man was already a TV veteran.

Now, even though he’s only just in his 30s, he’s taken one step further into A-list territory by turning his hand to writing and directing, and he also stars in Don Jon.

He has the great good sense to cast Scarlett Johansson as his leading lady in this smart modern comedy about a porn addict seeking a real relationship.

It’s a raunchy and adult comedy which provides further confirmation of the rising star’s talent.

Watch our video report for interviews with the stars at the movie’s red carpet premiere.