Playing for Keeps Review… (a.k.a. my Open Letter to Gerry Butler)

[sigh] I didn’t really want to write this letter. Not only because I had done it once before when The Bounty Hunter came out, but I was quite anticipating Playing For Keeps for a while. I was thrilled when I got and advanced screening invite on the same day as The Hobbit (yay!) right before I left for vacation.

I saw The Hobbit first which I loved, and a few hours later, I went to another cinema to see Playing For Keeps with my girlfriend Becky (aka PrairieGirl). I really wanted to LOVE this movie and I thought the premise had potential. I mean Butler was [seemingly] perfect as a former soccer star (with his Scottish brogue intact), starring as a former player of his beloved Celtics no less. I’ve seen him in a soccer movie before (the based-on-a-true-story Games of Our Lives and also those Soccer Aid Charity Match), so he’s very believable in that role.

Alas, I’d have to agree with the Rotten Tomatoes summary:

Witless, unfocused, and arguably misogynistic, Playing for Keeps is a dispiriting, lowest-common-denominator Hollywood rom-com.

PFK_RTscore

Actually, the weekend I checked the RT score, it was at a woeful 0% and you know what, I really can’t disagree with that. It’s truly one of the WORST movies I’ve ever come across and to add to the sting, GB didn’t just star in this movie, he also produced this stinker (yikes!!). In the trailer post, I had hoped that it would at least be a feel-good dramedy this Winter, alas, it barely even give us that! It’s even more discombobulating that actors like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, Dennis Quaid, and the affable Judy Greer agreed to do such an embarrassingly-thankless roles. Forget one-dimensional, yes there’s that, but mostly, their characters are just bizarre, disturbing and cringe-worthy!

I’d like to recall my letter to him I wrote in March of 2010, clearly he did NOT read it…

Please don’t waste your talent on sub-par scripts, especially those that require you to be a neanderthal/ chauvinistic/ boorish/ obnoxious (and in the case of The Ugly Truth and The Bounty Hunter, all of the above). I’m inclined to say ‘get off the rom-com’ trail, but to be fair, I quite enjoyed P.S. I Love You and your ‘Gerry’ character is both charming and sexy, a perfect combination of being manly and hopelessly-romantic at the same time. What I do want to say is, stay away from bad scripts! It doesn’t matter what genre, a bad script is a bad script, and it’s just not going to help your career.

Well, suffice to say I just can’t be a GB fan anymore. Consider this my goodbye letter Mr. Butler…

Dear Gerry,

I can’t believe it’s been nearly an entire decade since I saw you in The Phantom of the Opera. It still remains one of my favorite musicals and my favorite roles you’ve done to this day. It’s a testament of the quality of your role choices lately that when I was about to update my list of Favorite GB roles for your birthday, I was quite stumped. So I kept my original list which includes one of your finest performance to date, that is in Dear Frankie, as I didn’t really think your recent performances in the past two years wowed me enough to replace any of them on that list.

PFKposter

It’s quite astounding that the movie itself could actually be worse than this poster!

Now, let me just speak for a moment of my monumental disappointment with your recent dramedy Playing For Keeps. Well, I was expecting some drama and comedy but got neither! Let me start with your performance. I don’t know if you’re trying to be understated and cool, but it came across as lethargic to me. Yes I get it, your character is down-on-his-luck as George had squandered his good fortune as a soccer star and now he could barely able to pay rent as he dreamed on being a sportscaster. George had good intentions, wanting to reconnect with his  young son, and preferably rekindle his romance with his ex-wife. It’s all [potentially] heartwarming stuff, except that the relationship with his oh-so-adorable kid was hugely overshadowed by all that creepy soccer moms lusting over him. There’s nothing fun or amusing in any of George’s encounters with any of these women, and it didn’t help that George (nor you playing the role) seemed to have much fun doing the scenes either. Don’t even get me started with the predictable ending, which you could’ve surmised from the trailer. Now, there have been some movies that I still appreciate despite the predictability factor because the journey was worthwhile, but in this case of PFK, the journey was so excruciating that it was like being kicked whilst you’re down!

I must’ve gained an extra wrinkle on my face from cringing so much during the entire movie! There’s not even a moment of sincerity I could find, or even to relate to, the whole time I kept wondering just what the heck was Gabriel Muccino trying to do with this movie, what Robbie Fox was trying to say with this script, and most of all, how did this kind of movie ever got greenlit?? There’s no depth whatsoever in any of the characters, not even George himself on whom the whole story hinges on. Poorly-conceived plot is just putting it mildly, I think the only word that came to mind about PFK is ill-advised. It’s everything that’s wrong about Hollywood’s rom-coms… and sadly Gerry, you’ve been in more than your fair share in them. I mean heck, even Matthew McConaughey had been off the rom-com trails and has since garnered some kudos for his recent performances.

Going back to those favorite roles once again, three of the movies I listed (Dear Frankie, BBC’s The Jury and PS I Love You), and I should also mention your excellent performance Coriolanus, you had a supporting role in them. You didn’t carry the movie but yet your presence was a highlight. It made me think that perhaps you should take a well-deserved break and take a good long look at your career so far. It might be a good idea to seek out supporting roles (no I’m not talking about a stint in something so far-off like Movie 43), I’m talking about a small but important supporting roles in a quality project. It’d be nice if it’s with an acclaimed director, but so long as it’s got a strong script, that’s all that matters. Forget the pay check, I’m guessing you’ve made enough to last a couple of centuries. If you truly care about acting, don’t you want to be remembered for the craft of your work? Perhaps your entourage/groupies tell you that you’re a star and you must always play the lead. Well, as your [former] fan, let me tell you that it’s far more gratifying to see an actor in a good performance in a brief screen time than seeing him/her in an awful one scene after scene.

As I said in your Birthday post, I still think you’re a talented and capable actor. I just can’t fathom your role choices, especially now that you actually have the opportunity to seek out good ones with your own production company. Please don’t let the disappointment of the marketing of Machine Gun Preacher give you an excuse to forgo strong characters. Granted not everybody loved the film, but you did your best with the role and the story of Sam Childers was inspiring, so I’m glad you did that film and I was happy to recommend it. I could even enjoy a so-so movie like Chasing Mavericks because at least I could see the value of the story and I appreciate the dedication you did for the role, even to the point of almost dying in a surfing accident. Roles like George on the other hand, just left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Pardon my harsh letter but I feel that things need to be said for my own sake, as I don’t think you’d care to read it and your still-ardent fans probably would just brush me off. I do hope that your recent flops would be an eye-opener for you and hopefully you have the humility to take a look at what you have become. Everyone needs a ‘wake up call’ once in a while and perhaps you’ve been hitting the snooze button for far too long.

Best Wishes,

ruth m.


Well, it feels good to get it off my chest. Don’t cry for Gerry Butler, folks, I’m sure he’s still got a legion of fans ready to defend him :D

So that’s one crush I’m saying good bye to after all these years. Whilst we’re on the topic, which of your movie crush disappointed you this past year?

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Weekend Viewings + Everybody’s Chattin’

Happy Friday everyone!

Well, Winter has definitely arrived here in Minnesota. We’ve got a sprinkle of the dreaded ‘s’ word yesterday… yep, snow! But fortunately it was just a snow mix so it didn’t stick much at all, in fact, on my way home there’s barely a trace of it. Different story if you live in Northern MN though, I think they’ve got some measurable amount up there. Folks going to Halloween parties this weekend should definitely bundle up though, brrrrr!

Anyway, I’ve actually seen two of the movies opening today, Cloud Atlas, and Chasing Mavericks on advanced screening last week, but I’m taking a bit of a break from writing reviews as I’ve been working on them non-stop for TCFF.

I definitely will review both of them next week though. Seems like neither one is getting favorable critical reviews on rottentomatoes, but with a much higher audience reviews (surprise, surprise). Cloud Atlas actually got pretty decent reviews a couple of weeks ago, but it kept dwindling down closer to the movie opening. As for Chasing Mavericks, I enjoyed it for two main reasons: Gerry Butler surfing (‘nuf said) and the beautifully-shot 40-foot waves. Man, I wish I knew how to surf!! The movie isn’t as as bad as the critics made it out to be (heck if I had a nickle for every time I said this!) Needless to say, I’m definitely on the audience side on this one, so if you’re on the fence about either movies, I’d say give ‘em a shot.

Well, it’s time for links! 

Novia‘s shifting her gaze from her beloved Cillian Murphy to shine a spotlight on her second crush, Benedict Cumberbatch. Most of you know him from the excellent BBC’s Sherlock, but check out ‘Benny’ Special, consisting of reviews of three movies he’s appeared in.

Speaking of crushes, my Glaswegian friend Mark is in the midst of doing a review trilogy of Scottish films and his first two happen to star my all time favorite Scot! Check out his review of the Scottish drama One More Kiss, featuring a very young and six-pack-free Gerry Butler and one of my all time GB roles as The Stranger in Dear Frankie.

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As part of her 7 Days of Halloween special, the creative genius Lady Sati highlighted French actress Isabella Adjani in Possession as one of her favorite performances. There are sooo many movies of similar title, but this one was released in 1981 which also stars Sam Neill.

There are many reasons why I love my friend Michael’s blog, even the name It Rains… You Get Wet is just so clever! One of my fave series of his is TMT, which stands for a Theater… a Movie… and a Time. Check out those posts if you haven’t already, even if you don’t like or know the movie, his stories are fun to read… and you’ll wish you have as good a memory as he does!

Nice to see I’m not the only one having Bond fever this month! :)

People are doing all kinds of posts and lists to commemorate Bond month. Dan from Top 10 UK definitely lives up to his blog name as he has a plethora of top 10 007-themed lists, such as this Top 10 Bond Gadgets courtesy of Rodney of Fernby Films.

Fellow Bond fan Dan Fogarty, aka Fogs is doing all kinds of Bond lists, and a couple of days ago he listed his top 10 Bond theme songs. I agree with all but one from his list.

A couple more Bond lists I like, PG Cooper ranks 22 Bond girls, most of which I agree, especially his pick of number 1 who happens to be one of my all time favorites because she’s sexy and intelligent, definitely not a bimbo. Last but not least, growing up with two brothers, I’ve always been into cars and what’s a Bond movie without the Bond car right? John Kenneth Muir listed his top 5 Bond Cars, and I love his unconventional choice of a yellow French automobile that is far from the glamorous Aston Martin DBS!


So what are you going to see this weekend? Whatever you do, hope you have a good one!

Five for the Fifth: September 2012 Edition

Hello folks, it’s time for the September 2012 edition of Five of the Fifth!

As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here. So let’s get started, shall we?
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1. With election just a couple months away, the political ads are getting more and more vicious. I’m not generally fond of political movies or documentaries, though at times I’m curious enough to check it out, like I did with 2016: Obama’s America.

I guess I don’t mind them if they have the right cast and that it’s not too much bashing going on from either parties, they just leave a bad taste in my mouth when the filmmakers get too nasty/vindictive about a certain politician. There are only a handful of political-themed movies I’ve enjoyed, among them are the light-hearted ones like The American President, Dave,  as well as well-made thrillers like Enemy of the State and State of Play.

Do you like political movies? If so, which one is your favorite?

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2. There are at least a dozen movies I’m anticipating until the end of the year, not sure I could get to all of them on the big screen but I certainly hope so! Now, just looking at September and October, here are five on my must-see list:

ARGO – October 12

As the Iranian revolution reaches a boiling point, a CIA ‘exfiltration’ specialist concocts a risky plan to free six Americans who have found shelter at the home of the Canadian ambassador.

I like the last two of Ben Affleck-directed films, and he seems to be much better in front of the camera when he’s also behind the camera. This trailer looks GRIPPING! Can’t wait to see this one!


The Master – Sept 14

A Naval veteran arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future – until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader.

Can’t wait to see Joaquin Phoenix’s return to the big screen, and the Scientology-like organization seems timely given what’s been happening with Tom Cruise! Eric from The Warning Sign puts this as his #1 movie of the year so far, and with Phoenix + Philip Seymour Hoffman, no doubt the performances are ace!


Looper – Sept 28

In the year 2042, a man working for a group of killers called “Loopers” (they work for the mob and kill people who are sent blindfolded back in time from the year 2072 by their bosses) recognizes a victim as himself.

Despite the weird makeup on Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I do like this cast and this promises to be a time-travel thriller with a twist. So yeah, I’m game!


Chasing Mavericks – October 26

When young Jay Moriarty discovers that the mythic Mavericks surf break, one of the biggest waves on Earth, exists just miles from his Santa Cruz home, he enlists the help of local legend Frosty Hesson to train him to survive it.

I’ve posted the first trailer here, but I like the second trailer better. Those waves look spectacular… and Gerry Butler in a wet suit? Yes please :D I still wish the kid playing Jay is more interesting, but hey, King Leonidas as surfing instructor? Sign me up!


Cloud Atlas – October 26

An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

Ok, this could be a spectacular movie or a complete mess. But the trailer makes me curious enough to see it and there are a lot of my fave British/Aussie actors involved: Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Jim Sturgess, Jim Broadbent, etc., though Tom Hanks and Halle Berry might be the big draw for mainstream audiences. We’ll see if the Wachowskis deliver on this one.

Honorable Mention: The Cold Light of Day – I LOVE Henry Cavill so I’ll definitely try to see this on the big screen, but not sure if this movie is actually getting a wide release.

Now your turn. What’s your five most anticipated movies in the next two months?

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3. After having seen Brandon Lee in The Crow and the Bruce Lee’s biopic Dragon: The Bruce Lee story, my hubby and I have become quite fascinated by the martial art icon.

My brother was very fond of martial arts stuff and so I probably have seen a few of his movies, it’s just not my cup of tea. But it’s no denying that Bruce Lee is not only the greatest and most influential martial artist of all time, but he’s quite a charismatic guy. He’s also quite articulate and philosophical in interviews, too bad there aren’t too many of them out there. Btw, did you know that Bruce Lee is part German? Apparently his mother is of Chinese/German descent and his father was a Chinese Opera singer.

It’s so tragic what happened to him and his equally-gifted son Brandon. Bruce died at a young age of 32, reportedly from an allergic reaction to a headache tablet, and Brandon was only 28 when he was fatally shot in a bizarre filming accident of his last movie, The Crow. Cursed or not, there’s definitely something peculiar about their cause of death. I highly recommend both films if you haven’t seen it, I’ll be reviewing them both at some point.

Thoughts on Bruce Lee and/or martial arts movies? Are you a big fan of that genre?
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4. Happy Birthday Michael Keaton! Last week I read on Castor’s blog that the 61 year-old actor has been cast in the Robocop reboot, replacing Hugh Laurie. I think that’s great news, though I wish Keaton had gotten more leading roles. I’ve always liked Keaton, he’s got screen charisma and he suits both dramatic and comedic roles pretty well.

Though people are split whether he makes a good Batman or not, I do think he’s a great, versatile actor. Whether playing a crazy ghost (Beetlejuice), an overwhelmed dad (Multiplicity, Mr. Mom) or a genius psychopath (Desperate Measures), Keaton is always a joy to watch. I do hope this underrated actor gets more roles, I think he still looks a lot younger than his age!

So, what’s YOUR favorite Michael Keaton role?
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5. One of the classic masterpieces that have eluded me for so long is Lawrence of Arabia. Not sure why that is as it sounds like the kind of epic story I’d enjoy and I know my mom used to have a big crush on Omar Sharif, ahah.

Well, it’s been announced that it’ll be re-released on the big screen on October 4th as part of its 50th anniversary celebration. My hubby and I are definitely going to catch that. Check out the restoration trailer below:

According to this article, Grover Crisp, the EVP at SONY Pictures who’s in charge of the restoration said they wanted to ‘return this film to as pristine a condition as possible’ for the anniversary celebration.

“The original negative was seriously damaged in a number of ways, some problems dating from the original release and some accumulated over the years… But, until now, we did not have the tools available to address these issues. We think fans of the film will be as amazed as we are at the detail and resolution in the imagery captured by cinematographer Freddie Young to compliment David Lean’s immaculate direction.”

Man, I can’t wait to see this in its 70mm glory on the big screen!

Are you a fan of this film? Who else are going to see the big screen release of this one?


Well, that’s it for the September edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! :D