Movie Reviews

Hidden Gems: Keanu Reeves

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.

Statistics

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)

keanu-reeves-my-own-private-idaho

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)

keanu-reeves-the-devils-advocate

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.

Hardball (2001)

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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.

Final Thoughts

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!

Lists · Movie Reviews

Hidden Gems: Kristen Stewart

I may be losing the will to live in what feels like the longest lockdown ever but if I have anything going for me, I’m ahead of schedule again for Mettel Ray’s Hidden Gems challenge! I think I accidentally binged all 3 of my picks for this month in one week because there was a bit of a dry spell for new releases, whoops. Anyway, to find out more about the challenge, check out Mettel Ray’s original post.

Why Kristen Stewart?

I’ve felt the need to defend Kristen Stewart ever since she rose to fame with the Twilight movies. I can understand her getting stick when the book fans didn’t feel like she was the Bella they envisaged, but she got so much hate for not being able to act and that’s simply not true. Anyone who thinks that she’s wooden and doesn’t show emotion simply hasn’t watched enough of her movies.

Statistics

Letterboxd has 54 movies listed under Kristen Stewart’s filmography (although some are shorts and others are unreleased) and before the challenge I had seen 15. That’s nowhere near as good as I thought I’d do, she’s clearly been in more movies than I originally thought. Out of the ones I’d already seen some of my favourites include the Twilight Saga (obviously), Adventureland, Happiest Season and Charlie’s Angels.

I’ve also seen Panic Room, Personal Shopper, Underwater, Cafe Society, Snow White and the Huntsman, Jumper and American Ultra.

As before, I tried to pick 3 movies where Kristen Stewart played a big role, and so my choices ended up being Clouds of Sils Maria, Equals and Still Alice.

Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)clouds-of-sils-maria-kristen-stewart

This was an interesting movie to start with for me, because I’d never even heard of it until I started looking into Kristen Stewart’s filmography. Kristen gets a lot of screen time here but the lead actress is Juliette Binoche, playing a famous film star dealing with her past when someone very close to her passes away. Kristen plays her personal assistant and is such a good fit for the role. Sadly, the movie itself really wasn’t for me, it’s gotten many positive reviews but I couldn’t get into it at all.

Equals (2015)
equals-kristen-stewart

When I read the synopsis of Equals, I new it had to be one of my picks for the challenge. I’ve been defending Kristen Stewart since Twilight and her biggest criticism is that she doesn’t know how to show emotion. How ironic then that she stars in a strange, futuristic movie where emotions have been eradicated? On paper it’s a really interesting movie. Kristen Stewart stars alongside Nicholas Hoult in this movie that feels like a Black Mirror episode where developing emotions is actually seen as a disease.

I don’t know what went wrong – maybe it’s because Charlie Brooker has perfected that Black Mirror vibe and everything similar feels like a rip off but this didn’t work at all. I was interested enough in the beginning when the scene was being set but not even Kristen Stewart could save this for me.

Still Alice (2014)
still-alice-kristen-stewart

I was feeling pretty deflated at this point. I don’t mind not finding a gem each month but I really disliked the last two movies and I wasn’t feeling hopeful. Still Alice has been on my radar ever since it was released, but back in 2014 I hadn’t fully embraced the drama genre and watching a ‘sad’ movie wasn’t something I actively pursued. In Still Alice, Julianne Moore plays a mother going through the stages of dementia. The movie is brutal in how it shows the effect her illness has not just on Alice herself, but her entire family. Kristen Stewart plays one of Alice’s daughters, and more specifically the daughter that is closest to Alice.

There’s no denying it, the movie broke my damn heart. But it is, without a shadow of a doubt, an absolute gem of a movie. I could sing Julianne Moore’s praises all day but this is Kristen Stewart’s time to shine, and shine she did. Alice’s other daughters of course cared but it was Kristen’s character who was there for the toughest times. There’s a scene that happens backstage after Kristen’s character’s play and when Alice goes to greet her, it’s clear Alice doesn’t even recognise her own daughter and that was so tough to watch.

Final Thoughts

Wow, I thought for a while this month was going to suck and by the end of it I went and found a hidden gem! I’m chuffed to say the least. I’ve really enjoyed seeing more of Kristen Stewart’s work and I’m patiently waiting to see her portray Princess Diana in her upcoming movie Spencer. It’s time to move on though now, in March it’s time to focus on Keanu Reeves!

Movie Reviews

Hidden Gems: Dan Stevens

We survived January, folks! At least I hope we did, because I’m starting Mettel Ray’s Hidden Gems Challenge with such enthusiasm that I’m actually writing this in mid-January, having already watched my 3 chosen Dan Stevens movies. If you want to find out more about the challenge, check out Mettel Ray’s original post.

Why Dan Stevens?

My Dan Stevens phase happened very quickly and out of nowhere, as many of my obsessions do. I’d just started watching Legion with my husband, without realising the lead star also happened to play Beast in the new Disney remake I’d only watched days before. Suddenly, Dan Stevens was cropping up in more things I just happened to be watching and well, who doesn’t fall for those shockingly blue eyes?

Statistics

Letterboxd has 36 movies listed under Dan Stevens’ filmography (although some are shorts and others are unreleased) and before the challenge I had seen 10. Not bad! Out of the ones I’d already seen some of my favourites include The Guest, Eurovision Song Contest, Colossal, and, of course, Beauty and the Beast.

I’ve also seen Her Smell, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, The Rental, The Call of the Wild, A Walk Among the Tombstones and The Fifth Estate.

I tried to pick 3 movies where Dan was in a lead role, and so my choices ended up being Kill Switch (2017), Apostle (2018) and Permission (2017).

Kill Switch
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Well I started on a right blunder here. Does anyone remember the 2015 movie, Hardcore Henry? It was an action movie shown entirely in a first-person view. To this day I haven’t watched it, because for whatever reason just the trailer gives me motion sickness. Not great when a huge chunk of Kill Switch is also shown in the same view. Hurk!

What I will say though is this. Kill Switch isn’t a very good Sci-Fi movie at all, but it’s ambitious. It also has some absolutely stellar CGI work which is almost baffling considering how small of a movie it is. Seriously, the CGI here is better than in some very recent WB movies I’ve seen…not naming names, of course.

Apostle
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This movie has been on my radar for a while but it took the Hidden Gems challenge to finally push me to see it. It’s quite long and it has a Wicker Man feel to it which just isn’t my kind of movie at all. The genre has just never appealed to me, and I couldn’t tell you why. For most, this would have definitely counted as a gem of a movie, and I can appreciate it for what it is, especially the horror elements.

I like to think I can handle gore in movies quite well, but there were several scenes in here which were really hard to watch – but I say that with praise because it’s clearly a testament to how well those scenes were shot!

Permission
hidden-gems-dan-stevens-permission

Here’s the setup. Dan Stevens and Rebecca Hall are, on paper, the perfect couple. They’ve been together ever since school and Dan Stevens is waiting for the perfect moment to propose. But they’ve only ever had sex with each other, and after a suggestion from their friends they decide to sleep with other people to “get it out of their systems”. It’s an AWFUL idea. Frustratingly awful. Some reviewers praised the movie for its unexpected ending but I would have been mad as hell if it ended any other way. There were still some great moments in the movie though that so very almost made me class it as a Hidden Gem.

Their friends are a gay couple with problems of their own, made worse by one’s desire for children. On his walks to the park he meets a struggling Dad (Jason Sudeikis) and I so desperately wanted his character to be gay also so they could be happy together. The prize moment goes to Dan Stevens whilst drunk with the customer who bought a table from him just to sleep with him though. She tells him to do whatever he wants with her, absolutely everything is allowed. What does he do? Spits in her mouth and then bursts into tears. It was so shocking I burst out laughing and terrified my cats.

Final Thoughts

No gems this month then but it’s confirmed one thing to me – this challenge is definitely what I needed to do this year! I probably never would have seen these 3 movies otherwise and although I can’t say I loved them, they were still entertaining and I always enjoy finding new movies out there. Next month it’s Kristen Stewart’s turn!

Blogathons

Hidden Gems Movie Challenge 2021

For at least 3 years now I have tried and failed to complete a full year of the Blind Spot Movie Challenge. I don’t know what happens but something just stops me. It was great, then, when last year one of my favourite movie bloggers Mettel Ray announced that she struggles with the same challenge, and so created her own – the Hidden Gems Movie Challenge. Check out her original post here to find out more, but I’ll explain briefly too.

Mettel Ray was kind enough to let me take part in the challenge myself for 2021 and I couldn’t be more excited. The idea is that each month you pick an actor or actress of whom you’re a big fan of, and watch 3 of their movies you haven’t yet seen, with the hope of finding a hidden gem. If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll know I tend to obsess over a star and then consume as much of their filmography as I can so this should absolutely be a challenge I can keep to and enjoy!

The hardest part is picking who to focus on for each month! Like Mettel Ray, I’m going to pick 6 actors and 6 actresses. There are 3 names who, as much as I love them, aren’t going to be included, and that’s simply because I’ve already watched so many of their movies there either aren’t even 3 left or there are only 3 or 4 that I haven’t seen. Those names are Adam Driver, Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds.

So, without further ado, here are my picks…

hidden-gems-dan-stevensJANUARY – Dan StevensĀ 

hidden-gems-kristen-stewartFEBRUARY – Kristen Stewart

hidden-gems-keanu-reevesMARCH – Keanu Reeves

hidden-gems-michael-b-jordanAPRIL – Michael B. Jordan

hidden-gems-margot-robbieMAY – Margot Robbie

hidden-gems-paul-ruddJUNE – Paul Rudd

hidden-gems-nicole-kidmanJULY – Nicole Kidman

hidden-gems-jake-gyllenhaalAUGUST – Jake Gyllenhaal

hidden-gems-octavia-spencerSEPTEMBER – Octavia Spencer

hidden-gems-emily-bluntOCTOBER – Emily Blunt

hidden-gems-emma-thompsonNOVEMBER – Emma Thompson

hidden-gems-oscar-isaacDECEMBER – Oscar Isaac