This post is a few days late as I had planned on posting this on the last day of July, but oh well, work and life tends to get in the way.
This Hidden Gems series was spearheaded by Mettel Ray, and you can read more info about it here. I’m not sure I’ll be able to participate again this month, so this is actually July’s edition as I watched the movies all last month. It’s definitely a great series to explore an actor’s filmography and try to find the hidden gems from the list.
WHY ADAM DRIVER?
I’ve been a longtime admirer of Driver as I’ve always enjoyed everything he’s in, even in small parts. Yet there are still a bunch of movies I haven’t seen that I should catch up on. He’s worked with a ton of interesting directors and has a diverse and eclectic mix of films in his resume that only continue to get more interesting as he’s become more and more sought after by various filmmakers. Well, given I’ll be seeing ANNETTE tomorrow night, he’s been on my mind even more!
Instead of using Letterboxd, I’m using IMDb for stats. There are 48 credits listed under his profile, but I excluded TV series, shorts, video games, etc. as well as films that have not been released yet and that left roughly 27 films. That is quite a feat for this Juilliard grad who just got his big break in feature films only 10 years ago in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar in a small supporting role.
The first time I saw him was Inside Llewyn Davis in 2013, since then I’ve seen Driver in these films: Midnight Special, While We’re Young, Logan Lucky, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, BlacKkKlansman, Marriage Story, and The Report.
For the Hidden Gems challenge, I chose four off-the-beaten-path movies:
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)
What If (2013)
Here are my picks of hidden gems:
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)
I knew this is going to be a strange movie given it’s by Terry Gilliam and the project has been stuck in development hell for ages! There’s even a documentary about Gilliam’s first attempt to bring this movie to life called Lost in La Mancha. The story is loosely based on the 1605/1615 novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Adam Driver plays a cynical but supposedly genius film director who’s shooting a commercial in Spain and stumbles upon a DVD of a student film he made there a decade ago about Don Quixote.
Unbeknownst to him, that little film changed this small Spanish village forever, especially one shoemaker with delusions of grandeur thinking he is actually Don Quixote (Jonathan Pryce).
Like most Gilliam’s movies, it’s definitely not for everyone but I quite enjoyed all the surreal, bizarre and plain weird-ness of it all. Driver is definitely the main reason to see this for me, he’s got such a magnetic presence throughout this mad adventure, being practically put through the wringer in a pretty physical role. He’s able to balance the drama and comedy the role requires and pulls it off with aplomb.
I particularly enjoy the scenes at the cruel oligarch Alexei Miiskin’s mansion where the craziest stuff happens. At times it’s hard to discern which part is in real and which are just in the characters’ heads, which can be amusing as well as frustrating. The visuals are wonderful though, so I highly recommend this for fans of Driver or those who can appreciate Gilliams’ imaginative and peculiar vision.
I’ve actually been wanting to see this even long before I was crushing hard on Driver. The idea of a low-key bus driver who secretly writes poetry immediately appeals to me. Described as a quiet observation of the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details, the film delivers exactly that… and it’s mesmerizing.
Paterson wakes up every morning next to his wife in their small, modest home in Paterson, New Jersey, has his cereal breakfast and goes to work as a bus driver. It’s a regimented life but the routine is charming and captivating, not at all tedious.
I love how director Jim Jarmusch incorporates his own poetry in the film, as well as those by William Carlos Williams and Ron Padgett, and makes the words come alive. There’s something so poetic in the simplicity of the lives depicted here. Paterson thinks of poetry all the time, mainly while he’s driving the bus and observing his passengers day in and day out.
I was also fascinated by his artistic wife Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) and his adorable English bulldog Marvin. There’s such beauty in contemplation, quietness and serenity, a sweet celebration of life’s small joys and even its oddity. Apparently Jarmusch intended Paterson to be an antidote to the modern action film and it’s truly a welcome respite.
I love adventure road movies like this one, and it’s especially fascinating as it’s based on a true story. An adaptation of Robyn Davidson‘s memoir of the same name, its film development began even before lead actress Mia Wasikowska was even born, with Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman considering the project. I’m glad Mia ends up doing this film as she perfectly embodies the role in such an authentic way.
The movie chronicles Robyn’s nine-month journey on camels across the Australian desert in 1977. She sets out from Alice Springs, trekking across 1,700 miles of Western Australia desert to reach the Indian ocean. Driver portrays National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan who documents her journey. He isn’t in the movie very much but his character is integral in the story and he’s totally believable in the role.
The relationship between Robyn and Rick isn’t exactly romantic and at times she’s standoffish towards him, which is understandable considering her fiercely independent nature. At times Rick can be rather off-putting and perhaps even intrusive in the way he tries to cover Robyn’s story.
I highly recommend this movie for those looking for a quietly mesmerizing, soulful movie to take a break from the usual Hollywood offerings. Directed by John Curran, the visuals of the Australian dessert is absolutely breathtaking but it also shows the harsh and brutal climate. It’s inspiring to see anyone, let alone a young woman, accomplish what Robyn did, which made me curious to check out her book.
I’m really glad I was able to found 3 gems out of just the 4 films I saw. I really wanted to see Hungry Hearts but that one is a bit harder to find, but hopefully I can see that soon. What If is actually ok but despite its intriguing premise and charming performances, I find the ending rather clichéd and predictable. Driver isn’t in it very much anyway, so I wish I had picked a different movie.
As for this Hidden Gem challenge, I’m glad I’m able to participate at least once this year, now I’m trying to think who else would make a good topic/subject for future series.
24 thoughts on “Hidden Gems: Adam Driver”
Paterson is an awesome film as it’s for me one of Jim Jarmusch’s great films. I really want to see The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and Tracks as I like what Adam Driver is doing. Plus, I love his appearance on SNL some years ago as he just killed it. I hope he becomes a member of the 5 timers club as I see him, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Timothee Chalamet being future members of the 5-timers club.
Hey Steven! Glad you enjoyed Paterson, it’s such a lovely, quiet film that’s SO rare these days.
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote & Tracks are on Amazon Prime and so well worth a watch. I need to rewatch his SNL appearance, I do remember the Undercover Boss skit was hilarious! Wow, I didn’t realize Anya and Timothee have hosted SNL 5 times??! I should look those up promptly!
They haven’t hosted 5 times yet so far… they’ve only hosted once yet they’re so natural at what they do as I see them as future members of the 5-timers club along with Justin Timberlake, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, Drew Barrymore, Scar-Jo 3:16, Candice Bergen, Paul Simon, John Goodman, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, and I think Ben Affleck hosted 5 times or more.
I’ve only seen Paterson from this list despite doing Adam Driver’s month last year and I think it was my favourite of the bunch. I can’t for the life of me remember what else I watched…. too lazy to check too. 😀
I think Marriage Story is my favourite of his.
Hey Getter, I’m thrilled I’ve been able to do Hidden Gems this month, I’m hoping to do it again in Sept if time allows. I have to look at your Adam Driver post, I’m trying to find off-the-beaten path ones that aren’t huge blockbusters like Star Wars. I LOVE Marriage Story when I saw it last year, I think it even made my top 10 of 2020!
I saw ‘Tracks’ for the first time the other week, and I was surprised at how good it was – one of those subdued, quietly moving films. Driver’s role doesn’t ask much of him, but his performance is strong nonetheless.
Hello Tom, welcome to FC! Glad you enjoyed Tracks, I was just in awe of anyone being able to accomplish what Robyn did. I think Driver is such a strong actor that he always manages to shine even if his role is pretty small.
Guess what, Flixy? I have Hungry Hearts in my Netflix DVD queue, let me know if you want me to get it to you 😉
Yaaaassss!! I’d love to watch it. Let’s meet up for HH soon, thanks Becky! 🥰
Will keep you posted on an ETA for HH. DVDs by mail have been taking an eternity lately!
I’ve seen all of your picks and Tracks is probably the one I enjoyed the most. Enjoyed is a big word though as I wasn’t a huge fan of it. But Don Quixote was just terrible (I watched it twice and just couldn’t get into it, and was utterly bored both times) and Patterson was too slow and tedious for my taste. I don’t remember much about What If so it probably means I didn’t like that one either. I haven’t seen Hungry Hearts and I’m not sure I ever will because I’ve heard it’s really difficult to watch.
Ahah, I could see some people thinking Don Quixote as terrible, Gillams’ movies definitely aren’t for everyone. If I didn’t love Adam so much I might have been less enthused about it but his performance was so fun to watch! As for Paterson, I don’t see it as being tedious, the quiet-ness is actually soothing and a good respite from all the busy action movies I’ve been seeing lately.
I haven’t seen any of those films you mentioned, Driver is an interesting actor but he hasn’t done anything that interests me lately. The last film I saw that he starred in was the last Star Wars film. I’m trying to remember which movie I first saw him and then I saw on his IMDB resume that he appeared in two Law & Order series. Then I remember those episodes he appeared in.
Hey Ted, didn’t you see Silence? Driver is in that one, which I really want to watch soon but that thing is over 3 hours long! Yeah I think he was a guest star in a few TV series before he got the role in GIRLS.
Yeah, his role in Silence was very small. I think I mentioned it on my review, which was 4 years ago! https://flixchatter.net/2017/01/19/flixchatter-review-martin-scorsese-silence-2016/
Yes Ruth! You know I love this post. I almost picked Adam Driver for the challenge myself but there are literally only 3 of his movies I haven’t seen yet. Tracks is one of them so I’m looking forward to seeing that eventually!
Hey Allie, you definitely are more well-versed w/ Adam’s movies then. Somehow I was sort of impervious to his charm, if you will, so there were still a bunch of movies of his I needed to catch up on. Tracks is a captivating film despite Adam’s brief appearance, the real star is Mia Wasikowsa’s performance and the Australian desert scenery!
Nice post, Ruth. Adam Driver is very talented and has shown great range. Out of your selection I’ve only seen Tracks, and that was back in 2015 so I’d forgotten who else was in it alongside Wasikowska. Time for a rewatch!
Hey Claire! The more movies I saw him in the more in awe I am of his acting range and dedication to the role. Have you seen Marriage Story? That is one I highly recommend as well that I’ve seen last year, definitely one of his best.
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