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.