In the month of March, a third month into full lockdown in the UK and our third lockdown, I really needed cheering up and I was hopeful that Keanu Reeves could save the day! If you aren’t familiar with the Hidden Gems Challenge, it was started by Mettel Ray and you can find her original post here. Her pick for March is Audrey Hepburn and I can’t wait to see what she watched! Speaking of Mettel Ray, this month she wrote an amazing piece called Ted Lasso: The Unexpected Appeal of the Good Guy. If you haven’t read it yet then please spare 5 minutes, it’s beautifully written! But let’s talk about Keanu, shall we?
Why Keanu Reeves?
I was really late to the party when it comes to Keanu. I was fairly certain I’d seen the first Bill & Ted movie when I was a kid but I’d never watched any of the Matrix movies (until recently!). It wasn’t really until the release of John Wick: Chapter 3 that I became a real fan, and boy what a year that was for him anyway! I went on a bit of a Keanu binge in 2019 but I knew there was so much more of his work I had yet to see, so he was an easy choice for the challenge.
Letterboxd has a whopping 124 movies listed under Keanu Reeves’ name. Some of these will obviously be not-yet-released movies and shorts but I don’t know where to even start filtering those out! I’d seen 19 of them, which is a decent number but a less than impressive percentage! Out of the ones I’d already seen some of my favourites include John Wick: Chapter 3, Speed, Toy Story 4 and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
I’ve also seen John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 2, The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Neon Demon, Point Break, Always Be My Maybe, Bill & Ted Face the Music, Knock Knock, Keanu, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, The Lake House, Destination Wedding, Replicas and Siberia.
As before, I tried to pick 3 movies where Keanu Reeves played a main role, and so my choices ended up being My Own Private Idaho, The Devil’s Advocate and Hardball.
My Own Private Idaho (1991)
This was easily the movie I was looking forward to the most, it sounded so interesting. Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix play gay hustlers travelling from Portland to Idaho in a quest to find a family member. Whilst on their travels they play tricks for money and drugs and wind up attracting the attention of a wealthy benefactor. Mixed into all of that plot is the fact that My Own Private Idaho is also a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Sounds crazy, right?
I’m uncultured and not well versed at all in Shakespeare so maybe that’s what to blame but I didn’t understand this movie AT ALL. For the first half I was just happy to be tagging along on the wild ride but I was just so lost. It’s got great reviews though so worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yourself!
The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
Moving swiftly on to The Devil’s Advocate, a movie that I was sure I wanted to see but was hesitant about it’s runtime (a few minutes shy of 2.5 hours!). Keanu Reeves plays a hot shot lawyer from Florida given the opportunity of a lifetime to work for a big time lawyer (Al Pacino) in New York, who just so happens to be the devil himself.
What an opening scene to a movie! Loveable Keanu Reeves, a defence lawyer for a teacher accused of sexual abuse stands up and, knowing damn well the guyis guilty, somehow manages to sway the jury and the teacher walks free. It was shocking – and I started to wonder what kind of online reaction that scene would cause if it were in a movie released today. Regardless – it’s all part of the plot and the movie itself was highly enjoyable. Not enough for me to call it a gem, but still good.
Oh. My. Goodness. I’ve had to actually step away from blogging after watching Hardball because all I wanted to do was talk about it and I knew I had to wait until this post! I don’t care about the lukewarm reviews, Hardball is easily a hidden gem in my eyes and easily oneof my favourite movies of all time. Keanu Reeves plays an aimless young guy addicted to gambling and thousands of dollars in debt. In a way to try and claw his way out, he agrees to coach a baseball team made up of young black kids from a deprived estate in Chicago.
It’s such a feelgood movie. I was rooting for Keanu to turn his life around but it was those kids who made it for me. One of whom just so happened to be Michael B. Jordan! If that wasn’t crazy enough, he just so happens to be another one of my picks for the Hidden Gems Challenge! Anyway – I won’t spoil it but there’s a pretty heartbreaking twist towards the end of the movie that I didn’t see coming and I don’t think I’ll ever recover. It was only not getting a conclusion to one particular kid’s story that stopped this being a full 5/5 for me, to be honest.
A mixed bag for sure but despite My Own Private Idaho being a personal dud for me I’m sure it’s something most others would enjoy. Hardball is going to be a really tough movie to beat for the rest of this challenge! I had to look back at my own announcement post to check who is next and in another twist of coincidence April is dedicated to none other than Michael B. Jordan himself! So be sure to check back this time next month!