Last week I flopped on the couch looking for something to “decent to watch” on Netflix. I settled on Juliet, Naked, a rather clever 2018 comedy starring Ethan Hawke and Rose Byrne. It was light and funny with an interesting premise and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Ethan plays an old(ish), craggy, has-been rock star. His clothes are as messy as his life and his character has real depth.
I would NEVER describe myself as a movie buff and I can get halfway through a movie before exclaiming “oh yeah, I’ve seen this before”. My memories of Ethan Hawke movies are patchy and I couldn’t remember seeing Ethan in anything else. A quick Wikipedia search showed he has an impressive and extensive back-catalogue dating way back to 1985 reminding me of Hugh Grant’s long list of achievements. It turns out I have in fact seen at least two of his movies.
How to avoid endless scrolling
Last year, during the early stages of the Pandemic, when we were ALL locked in, I announced the (Un)official Hugh Grant Film Festival. Rather than randomly scrolling through Netflix looking for something “decent to watch”, I set myself the challenge of watching as many of Hugh’s movies as I could. The good, the bad and the ugly. The procurement of titles was in itself a challenge. I searched op shops to find DVDs, borrowed a few from the local library, borrowed some log-ins to subscription services I don’t have, in addition to the ones I had on Netflix or could rent on Apple TV. Over two months, I watched thirty of the more than fifty titles in his anthology. Pretty good I think! I have now exhausted all the movies I could find in Australia at least.
Impressive back catalogue
Ethan’s back catalogue represented a similar opportunity for a challenge and I am officially launching the (Un)official Ethan Hawke Film Festival!
After Juliet, Naked I re-watched Dead Poet’s Society which, after 32 years remains a classic and relevant story. Next, I devoured the critically acclaimed Before Series; (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight) a trilogy spanning 18 years both in real-time and in the plot. It traces the life of Jesse and Celine (Julie Delpy) who meet on a train in their early 20’s and follows them up nine years later and then again in another nine years in their early 40’s. There is very little action other than long, rambling and intimate conversations between the two leads. Sounds boring, but it is fascinating and so well played. If you are going to watch the series, do it in order and resist watching the trailers. Too many spoilers!
A mixed bag of goodies
Unlike Hugh, Ethan has escaped being suffocatingly typecast and he has played a wide variety of roles. In addition to acting, both on stage and for the big and little screens, Hawke has written screenplays and several novels. Looking at his Goodreads profile he appears to have a very handy side hustle narrating audio books too. He has also made a number of documentaries.
Although nominated for plenty of awards he has won only two. A Critics’ Choice Award for the Before Series and an Independent Spirit Award for First Reformed.
So tonight it will be Gattaca, I’ve seen it a couple of times before having used it as a teaching aid when trying to get Year 10 interested in genetics and DNA codes. There is only one tiny sex scene you need to skip!
That will be five down and only eighty (80!!!!!!!) more to go! I’ve got three months off work so it might be just the thing for my upcoming Great Southern Road Trip. It can be the (Un)official Travelling Ethan Hawke Film Festival.
If I have any energy left after that I might branch out and read his novels!
Wish me luck!
PS: Since writing this post and before publication, I have now watched Training Day, Taking Lives and Boyhood, all good! Training Day with Denzel Washington is suspenseful and violent, I watched much of it though my fingers! Denzel won the Oscar for Best Actor for this one and Ethan, while nominated for Best Supporting Actor, didn’t take home the trophy. Boyhood is another long term project and follows the same actors over 12 years. It’s almost a documentary.
PSS: Add to the list: Adopt-A-Highway! OMG such a lovely, sad, poignant story with a happy ending! Once again not much action and Ethan is in every scene. That must be hard work! Why has this guy not won an Oscar???