Immortality, Baby!

“Marky Mark” Wahlberg has been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor-Drama. I can’t even believe I just typed that sentence. (Actually, I was going to wait to do this post until next month when the Academy Award nominations are announced. At this point, I predict he’ll be nominated for one of those, too. Recent developments, however, have led me to believe the time is right.)

While I am very happy for this former Calvin Klein Underwear model and erstwhile rapper, and I actually believe that his role as Micky Ward is the role of a life-time and he did a fantastic job, my first thought was not about him at all. My first thought was:

Gerard Butler, you’d better get your shit together.

There is absolutely no reason that an actor of Gerard Butler’s caliber, name recognition and popularity, should not be offered the same types of roles that I see other actors, with less of those things, getting all the time.

I don’t mean to take anything away from Mr. Walhberg, that’s not my point. I say again that I loved The Fighter and he was fantastic in it. My point is that he fought for that role. He knew what it could do for him and what he could bring to it. He believed in his abilities as an actor and as a producer he worked for many years to get the movie made. He watched the lead yo-yo away from and back to him several times, but he wanted it and in the end he made sure he got it. And with that performance, Mark Wahlberg has finally gotten what he’s said he really wanted, respect as an actor.

This is what I expect from Gerard Butler. This is what I want for Gerard Butler.

He’s on the right track. He’s acquired a production company with his longtime manager, Alan Siegel, and he’s acted as producer on two films so far, 2009’s Law Abiding Citizen, and 2011’s Machine Gun Preacher.

I’m on the record as having enjoyed LAC and any reader of this blog knows just how biased I am about Mr. Butler, but I have to say that however the film was received by critics, it was an important step in his education. I’m sure the learning experience G had while making that movie was both immeasurable and priceless. (Although, it must be said that the movie did make some money.)

I am of the opinion that his next foray into production, Machine Gun Preacher, would not have gotten made if he hadn’t been attached as an actor, and also if his production company hadn’t gotten involved as well. Now, I have not seen this film yet, but by all accounts it has a great deal more gravitas than most of his other post-300 projects combined. And frankly, that’s what he needs: Gravitas. Or at least he needs to be perceived as someone who possesses this quality.

The film that could give him this in spades, if it is successful, looks to be the next one out of the gate. There had been reports that Ralph Fiennes directorial debut, Coriolanus, will open in some European cities as early as February of 2011. There have already been screenings in London and the word that is leaking out about G is very positive. (In a bit of theatrical serendipity, both Fiennes and Butler have appeared on stage in the play. In fact, it was G’s first professional gig as an actor.) Indeed, just this morning it was announced that Coriolanus will screen at the prestigious Berlinale in early February. (There is some discrepancy as to whether it will show in or out of competition. I’ve seen conflicting reports on this point.) Regardless, this is a very good thing. The Berlin fest is among the world’s top four, in my opinion, (along with Cannes, Toronto and Venice) and it means the world is eagerly awaiting Fiennes’ first directorial effort.

Fiennes is an actor who has gravitas coming out of his ears. Even his years playing a Harry Potter villain have somehow only managed to increase it and one would never associate Ralph Fiennes with a bad rom-com with a high powered co-star desperate for a hit…errr…okay, make that SHOULD never. At least he learned his lesson and stopped at one. Besides, The End of the Affair excuses a multitude of sins. As usual, I digress. The point is that Ralph Fiennes hand-picked Gerard Butler (whose name incidentally helped get the film financed) to play Coriolanus’ antagonist Tullus Aufidius, opposite him.

It will not matter what the general public thinks about this film, especially since most will probably have a hard time finding a movie like this and will have to make the concerted effort to seek it out via “On Demand” and dvd. If critics and industry insiders like and admire this movie, it will go a long way to reshaping Butler’s career path.

The point of this post is that I still see great potential in this man. He doesn’t need to coast on being, for example, ‘the poor man’s Russell Crowe.’ Russell Crowe is a great actor and no matter what else anyone thinks of him with reference to matters not film related, he has achieved a certain status for it. He gets the good scripts and works with the best directors and has projects lined up for at least the next five years. Physically, he may not be in Gladiator form and probably won’t be again, but it doesn’t seem to be important to him (or his career.) He’s still acting and turning in fantastic performances. He’s certainly not resting on the laurels that he earned in that film.

While the gossip rags may taunt him forever about not maintaining his Leonidas physique, it’s time for G to stop resting on the kudos he got for “300.” More importantly, he needs to stop coasting on Dear Frankie, the movie that most of Hollywood thinks of as the one that proved he could actually act, even though very little of the ticket buying public has seen it.

He needs to decide whether he wants to be an actor or a movie star. (I’m sure the latter is much more fun.) I may have gotten this totally wrong, but when I first discovered this guy, I was under the impression that the work mattered to him. Listen to him talk about a role he’s passionate about and you’ll probably feel the same way. Watch “Wrath of Gods,” a documentary about the making of 2005’s Beowulf & Grendel (bit of trivia: WOG is actually the 1st film on which he’s listed as producer, but not with his shingle, Evil Twins) and listen to him talk about that film, including characterization and the movie-making process. Has that artistic fire burned out completely in the intervening five years? (We won’t discuss where the accent has gone.)

Personally, I don’t think so. I don’t believe he likes being more well known for the parties he attends and the models he’s allegedly keeping company with. He’s just living his life, grabbing all the gusto he can. Hell, if I woke up every morning and looked at that face in the mirror and had the readies he has access to, I’d be doing the same thing. (He’s also, in my humble opinion, trying to stave off the march of time, probably for a lot of reasons.)

As an avowed fan of Gerard Butler, I realize my credibility when discussing this subject is already in question. All I can do is assure you, gentle reader, that I do not view this man through any variation of rose-tinted glasses, (although I’d like to view him through those Marc Jacobs shades he frequently sports. For some reason I really like those.) He is not on a pedestal of my making and I am not of the opinion he can do no wrong.

It drives me absolutely batshit when I read the delusional ramblings of women who see him as perfect, simply because he is beautiful, and verbally spew their virtual wailing and keening and rending of clothes across the internet because of the bad rap his acting and his antics have gotten lately. He’s a grown man, he can and will do what he wants regardless of what I think and I’m pretty sure his ‘soul’ will survive if the self-appointed guardians stopped guarding it. (He is not now, nor has he ever really been “Erik.”) That sort of behavior diminishes all of us who consider ourselves fans (with an ‘F’ not a ‘PH.’)

I say all that by way of disclaimer. The hopes I have for G are inspired by the potential I have seen and still see in him. The movie business is capricious at best. It can all change in an instant. I have touted the talents in previous posts of two of Butler’s recent co-stars, Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender. While I grant you they are younger than G, like him they have both been toiling away at their craft for many years, and yet suddenly they are two of Hollywood’s hottest “It Boys.” Despite amazing performances in several critically acclaimed indies like “Hunger” and “Fish Tank,” it took a small role in a film like Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” to catapult Fassbender into the mainstream. For Hardy, it was Christopher Nolan’s “Inception.” Wahlberg had quietly been accumulating an impressive list of credits over the course of the last fifteen years, but I believe his big moment started with “The Departed,” directed by one Martin Scorsese and continues with the words “…Award nominee.”

I’d just really like it if one of these days someone sat down and wrote the line: Gerard Butler has been nominated for a Golden Globe…or an Academy Award.

Now, that’s immortality baby!

thanks for reading…

*Click Click*


Fassy Rules!

Another film I am really looking forward to is Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank” (official website:, with the incredibly talented Michael Fassbender.

He’s getting a lot of attention these days in the deluge of press surrounding the release of “Inglourious Basterds.” He’s being touted as the next big thing, but as is usually the case, he’s been around for years.

What I find odd, however, is that more is made of his first big break in “Band of Brothers”, (he’s supposedly in 8 of the 10 episodes but I’ve only been able to spot him in the first one. The camera pans across him in the opening scene while the company is watching a movie.) than the role in which I first discovered him, 2007’s “300”. His turn as young Stelios is usually mentioned in passing, and then the most is made of his physique. And while said physique is VERY impressive, (there could not have been an ounce of fat on that man. He was all lean and tightly coiled sinew…shudder…)

you miss the point if you don’t listen for his demented laugh as he tells Daxos that he may have found the enemy to give him the glorious death he was born for.

In any case, I have been smitten with Mr. FITS (‘Fights in the Shade’-yes I know, terribly clever) ever since.

As with Tom Hardy, (Okay, as with most things. I can be like a dog with a bone when I find something new.) I’ve sought out anything else I could get my hands on with Fassbender’s name attached. A lot of his earlier credits are UK television (most of which I’ll probably never get to see.)

Speaking of British television, “Hex”, is a drama about a boarding school for randy, but deeply troubled, teens (that has apparently been Satan’s bordello for centuries) that the nice people at BBC America see fit to run often. The Devil wants me to be the mother of the anti-Christ? I have no problem with that as long as the Devil comes in the form of the smoothly charming and disarmingly sexy Azazeal. And I KNOW that’s not just me.

I’ve been petitioning (more like begging) BBC America to pick up a sumptuous historical mini-series called “The Devil’s Whore” in which Fassbender played a key figure in the English Civil War, Colonel Thomas Rainsborough. Amazing cast including Dominic West as Cromwell, John Simm (love him), Peter Capaldi and relative newcomer Andrea Riseborough. All of the episodes are available on Youtube and I have viewed them all, but that’s not how this colorful, earthy costume drama was meant to be seen. I want it all! I can hope that it will eventually be released on region-free dvd. Until then…there’s always episode 2, pt 4.

Francoise Ozon’s “Angel” from 2007 is not available anywhere that I can find. (Which ticks me off. I wish imdb would stop putting links to Blockbuster Online & Amazon on a film’s title page if the damn title is not available at Blockbuster Online or Amazon.) Again there are pieces available on Youtube (As of this writing; no telling when the Youtube police will strike it down.)

“Eden Lake” deserves a post of its own. On the surface this is your typical “unprepared couple goes camping and bad things happen” slasher film, but it’s really much more. You may still find yourself yelling at the screen, “Don’t do that you idiot!” but when you think you’ve got it figured out it takes one surprising and disturbing turn after another. Having said all that, it is still a horror film. A smart, well written and well acted horror film but nonetheless it is still brutal and bloody. I hate to do spoilers but if the genre doesn’t appeal (well then don’t watch it but if you must, stop the dvd after the romp in the lake. Fassy looks good wet.)

I really want to see “Hunger,” in which MF plays IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. It’s already been celebrated from Cannes to Berlin to Toronto, and is being distributed by IFC Films. I’ve heard that it’s a difficult performance to watch but one that deserves to be seen. The trailer link:

Which brings me to Inglourious Basterds, (another really fine article: a film I’ve wanted to talk about but wanted to find a way to do it that I haven’t already read a hundred times and yet without spoilers. So for now I’ll settle for talking about MF’s Lt. Archie Hickox. First, let me just say that I hope the dvd release gives us more of everything but specifically of this character. I refuse to believe, knowing the research he did and the work he put into getting the accent right, that what we see in the film is all there ever was.
He’s said his inspiration was George Sanders and since the release I’ve heard all sorts of comparisons, like “Oh, he’s doing Olivier!” He’s not doing Olivier. He’s doing a “type”. A clipped, effete accent used to signify the British upper class in films of the 30’s -early 40’s. It sounds more like Ronald Coleman meets David Niven, okay with maybe a little Olivier (circa 1940-Rebecca) but he’s not “doing” Olivier. In any case, it’s flawless and and he steals every scene he’s in.

In addition to the above mentioned “Fish Tank”, he’s got another film completed and awaiting release, “Town Creek”, director Joel Schumacher’s return to the horror/slash thriller genre. (If nothing else, I’m sure it will look good.) There are two films in post-production. “Centurion” (his third film with Dominic West for those keeping score) directed by Neil Marshall, whose 2002 “Dog Soldiers” is an outstanding new take on the werewolf mythology (with another one of my favorites, Kevin McKidd.) Then there’s the darling of this year’s Comic Con, “Jonah Hex” with Josh Brolin, in which he plays henchman to John Malkavitch’s baddie and gets to keep his Kilarney accent.

Currently in production is “Birdsong”, a WWI romance that is being compared to “The English Patient” and co-starring Brian Cox. In pre-production is “The Sweeney”, based on a UK cop show, and co-starring the great Ray Winstone.

What is it with the Irish and the Scots and the Brits? Not only can every single one of them ACT, they all work really hard at it. Sheesh.