In the testosterone-driven world of director Antoine Fuqua, light heavyweight boxing champion Billy Hope finds the brutality of the ring doesn't compare to the emotional trauma of losing his wife Maureen and fighting to regain custody of his alienated six-year-old daughter Leila. An amateur boxer himself, Fuqua energizes the melodramatic boxing genre by including a wealth of details.
He is large and rather furry. She is small, tiny even. He is brown and she is grey. Ernest is a bear and Celestine, a mouse. Each has heard how the other is unbearable. The enemy. But they don't see it that way, this mousie who draws and this bear who makes music.
"Out of the Furnace" wants to be a blue collar, gritty film, and it succeeds. Set in Braddock, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh) in 2008, the future for the steel mill workers looks about as bleak as the sky and the town. Two brothers pursue different paths: Russell still employed at the mill, younger Rodney floundering, heading off to Iraq.
Through the history of American racism and the civil rights movement, "Lee Daniels' The Butler" follows Cecil Gaines as a boy in 1926 Macon, Georgian cotton fields to life as a butler in the White House. From Eisenhower to Kennedy, LBJ to Nixon and Reagan, Cecil works in the background, his dignity and work ethic his own argument for, and proof of, equality.