Birthday Tribute: Top 5 Favorite Keanu Reeves’ Roles & Trailer Spotlight: 47 Ronin

Today is Keanu Reeves’ Birthday and I almost missed it! Can you believe it he’s 49 years old?? He’s nearing 50 but he doesn’t look a day over 35!

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Keanu in Point Break (1991) and this year at Cannes

Keanu Charles Reeves was born in Beirut on September 2, 1864 in Beirut, Lebanon. His father is Hawaiian Chinese and his mother English, his first name means “cool breeze over the mountains” in Hawaiian. My pal and fellow Keanu fan Mark and I sometimes call him Chuck 🙂 Keanu strikes me as the type of actors who aren’t in it for the fame or money. He seems like a nice guy in real life too. Perhaps you’ve seen this video of him giving his seat to a woman on the subway that went viral. Dan at Top 10 Films recently posted Top 10 Random Acts Of Kindness From Actors and Keanu came in at number 1 as he donated his lucrative back-end deal for The Matrix franchise to the crew of the films, saying they were the unsung heroes, the ones who made the films so good. He has been quoted as saying, “Money is the last thing I think about. I could live for a few hundred centuries with what I have made already.” WHOA! Now, THAT’s real charity folks, nice to see celebs who actually walk the talk and that is a rarity in ANY industry.

I’ve been a fan of his ever since I saw him in Speed, and though he’s not the most expressive actors out there, he more than makes up for it in screen presence and that inherent movie star quality that an actor can’t really train for. There’s also a certain earnest demeanor about him that makes me root for him instantly, and he’s got that cool factor without appearing smug. Plus, Keanu not only looks good but sounds good as well with his deep, manly voice.

Keanu’s quite a prolific actor, with 70 films/TV projects under his belt since his start in the early 80s. His big break came with Point Break in 1991, but Speed and of course The Matrix made him a household name. I’ve seen just a little over a dozen of his films, both small and big-budgeted films, and though he certainly isn’t going to nab any acting awards, I’ve always enjoyed watching him. I actually own some of his films that I don’t mind seeing over and over again. If I were to rate my top 5 favorite roles, it’d look like this:

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5. Kevin Lomax – The Devil’s Advocate

4. Johnny Utah – Point Break

3. Paul Sutton – A Walk in the Clouds

2. Jack Traven – Speed

1. Neo – The Matrix

Honorable Mentions: John Constantine in Constantine + Shane Falco in The Replacements

I think he’s more versatile than people give him credit for. He’s obviously great as an action hero, but he’s got the sensitivity and vulnerability to play a romantic lead or a down-on-his-luck kind of guy like he did in Henry’s Crime. I haven’t seen the comedy Something’s Gotta Give and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee where he had supporting roles, but it proves that he does seek out a variety of roles in his career. He’s also ventured into directing, in the fascinating documentary Side By Side.

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Now, the one film I’ve been anticipating for quite some time is 47 Ronin. I actually mentioned this back in 2010 when I featured its director Carl Rinsch‘s short sci-fi film The Gift which was at one point optioned to be made into a feature film. Besides Keanu, who looks like he’s in his element, I quite like the Japanese cast: Hiroyuki Sanada (who was sadly wasted in The Wolverine) and Pacific Rim‘s Rinko Kikuchi. Check out the trailer:

Here’s the synopsis per EMPIRE:

After a treacherous warlord kills their master and banishes their kind, the leaderless samurai vow to seek vengeance and restore honor to their people. Driven from their homes and dispersed across the land, this band of Ronin must seek the help of Kai (Reeves), a half-breed they once rejected, as they fight their way across a savage world of mythic beasts, shape-shifting witches and wondrous terrors.

Ok, despite the rather blah trailer, I’m still intrigued by this. Visually, it looks pretty cool but let’s hope this won’t be another case of style over substance as we could use a truly epic Samurai movie. Per IMDb, this is the seventh cinematic adaptation of the Japanese folktale of the 47 Ronin, after The 47 Ronin, ChĂ»shingura, Chushingura, The Fall of Ako Castle, 47 Ronin (Japanese film) and The Last Chushingura. But this is the first out of Hollywood. Even though Keanu is a Western actor, his Asian heritage makes him look like he belongs in this film. I haven’t been following it closely but it seems that it’s been in development hell for years with budget and creative differences issues. There were even rumors last year that Universal fired Rinsch as the budget ballooned to $225 mil (from the already massive $175 mil). That’s just ludicrous even for a 3D film, and such a huge risk for the studios to give it to a first-time director!

But hey, you never know, it may still make money. I mean, look at World War Z. We’ll see if this turns out to be a good one. The film comes out on Christmas day, 2013.


So, what’s your favorite Keanu role and what do you think of 47 Ronin?

Happy Birthday Sandra Bullock!

Yesterday Sandra Bullock turned 46, so happy belated birthday, Sandy!

This has been quite a year for the affable actress, winning an Oscar and losing a marriage in the same year, which is tough enough in and of itself even without a heinous scandal associated with it. Yet, the gorgeous actress continues to carry herself with grace and class through it all. I’ve always liked Sandra, even if I don’t always like her movies, and that’s because in a town where narcissism run amok, she still comes across as a genuinely nice and humble human being

The night before she won her Best Actress Oscar on March 7th, she actually showed up at the Razzie to accept not one, but two Raspberry trophies she ‘earned’ for both Worst Actress and Worst On-Screen Couple for All About Steve. You’ve probably seen the video at the Razzie award where she hauled a wheeled wagon full of the chastised All About Steve dvds and delivered a speech equally gracious as the one she delivered for the real honor! You’ve got to hand it to her for that self-deprecating sense of humor and her ability to laugh at herself.

As my tribute to the lovely actress, here five of my favorite Sandra Bullock movies (in order of release):

  • Speed (1994)
    This is one of the movies Bullock and Keanu Reeves will be remembered for. I love this action flick when it first came out, it was so much fun to watch and both of the leads have a nice chemistry together as they flirt their way through the terrorist scheme of the late Dennis Hopper. I did swoon over Reeves in his hunkiest role, but Sandra is so darn likable as the ordinary hero Annie, it’s no surprise this movie made her a star.
  • The Net (1995)
    This movie is so dated now, and it’s asking a bit much to have us believe that someone as pretty as Bullock is a reclusive geek who has no friends or boyfriend. But if you can just get past that absurd notion, the movie itself is quite enjoyable. Of course having a baddie in the form of the tall, dark & handsome Brit Jeremy Northam can’t hurt 🙂 Sure this movie doesn’t hold up well now, but Bullock’s sincere performance and non-stop action sequences kept me in suspense.
  • While You Are Sleeping
    I’m not a huge rom-com fan, but this one still gets me every time it came on TV. The movie truly hinges on Sandra’s likability factor, but it was so easy to root for her character, even if we don’t agree with everything she does. A train fare collector who’s a hopeless romantic, she has a massive crush on a dashing commuter, and pretends to be his fiance when he was knocked unconscious. With a premise like this, you need a leading actress who can sell it. Sandra definitely passes with flying colors. Heck, she’s able to make even Bill Pullman seems so irresistible! 🙂
  • The Proposal (2009)
    Another rom-com, I know. But this one actually comes pretty highly recommended that I was curious enough to check it out. One thing I notice is Sandra definitely ages well, this is over a decade after Speed and she still maintain that youthful radiance and lithe figure. The movie also benefits from Ryan Reynolds’ casting, an actor equally affable and funny, and though I don’t quite buy the chemistry between the two, it’s still fun to watch the two banter with each other, not to mention the hilarious scenes between her and Betty White!
  • The Blind Side (2009)
    This is one that I’d get flak for even including in my list. Yeah, I know a lot of people are still enraged over her winning Best Actress Oscar, but it’s a given that moviegoers disagree with what the Academy picks. I for one thinks it’s well-deserved, it might not be the best performance of the year, but it was Bullock’s strongest and most nuanced role yet. As I said in my review, the movie works thanks largely to Sandra Bullock’s assertive but guarded performance, and again she comes across very genial and relatable.

Well folks, what are your favorite Sandra Bullock movie(s)?