Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ethan Hawke

The following is an account of my visual relationship with Ethan Hawke.

The first movie that I remember watching with Ethan Hawke in it was Gattaca. I studied it in year eleven English. Gattaca is a sci-fi drama set in the future where people are classified as either 'valids' or 'invalids'. This classification refers to their genetic code. I seem to remember there being something clever to do with DNA and the letters G, T, C and A, which is why it is called Gattaca. In this society, couples have the ability to predetermine the characteristics of their children. These genetically produced people are valids, and they get everywhere in life. They are pretty much superhuman, get no diseases, are healthy and strong, good looking, talented in everything that they do.  Conversely, invalids are ostracised from society and are looked down on poorly. They have to work in the service industries like cleaning or other undesirable jobs. The society runs off the classification of somebody being valid or invalid. It's like on your ID. So Ethan Hawke plays this dreamer invalid who wants to be an astronaut. He is an invalid because he has a weak heart. But he gets a job cleaning at this astronaut training facility, somehow hears about an underground valid who's lost use of his legs (Jude Law) and takes on his identity so he can get to space. I am only doing a big synopsis because Stacey has not seen it. I think that I found Jude Law more attractive when I watched this film, but I basically always love the underdog and the fact that there is a sex scene between Ethan and Uma Thurman appealed to my 16 year old self. 
I feel like there are some existential questions raised in this film, though it may just be the whole space travel/genetic modification thing that consistently makes me feel uncomfortable about humans and general mortality. Anyway Ethan Hawke does a great anxious, underdog - yet ultimately the strongest character in a variety of ways - dreamer here. 

Next time me and Ethan crossed paths was Dead Poet's Society. It just occurred to me that his character is pretty much the same as the one in Gattaca. Except for he's not an 'invalid'. Although the pressure he feels within himself probably makes him so. I'll be brief about DPS - it's a conservative private boys school in the late 1950s, new kid Todd rocks up, following in his brother's footsteps. Robin Williams (O captain, my captain) is their new English teacher. He schools them in the ways of the old poet masters, teaches them to 'suck the marrow out of life' and changes their lives. Todd is the quiet weird guy who nobody can get out of his shell. He seems really intimidated by everything, but the Captain knows that he's got more inside him! Ethan Hawke isn't really the greatest thing about DPS. I'll admit I really bought the whole marrow deal.

Then there was Before Sunset. I had a phase between the age of 15-18 where, when hiring DVDs, I would take two of the two overnight and two weeklies that my family would hire, to invest in 'indie' or 'interesting' films or simply films I didn't want my family to watch with me, and watch them late at night (1-3am) while my family was in bed. Before Sunset was one of them. Others in this series were Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Science of Sleep, Elizabethtown, The Virgin Suicides, I Heart Huckabees etc. Again I recall nothing remarkable from this other than knowing that I wished Ethan Hawke was my boyfriend and that I was in Paris and smoking inside was not only okay but the done thing. I loved their reckless ignorance of lung cancer fear. I think there was also the appeal of not only having a romantic tryst in Paris one time round, but having another random meetup in the same city. Also there was a sense of nostalgia that I got from watching it. I also enjoyed the unfinished nature of it. Did he leave? What did he do???

At some point I probably watched Taking Lives, which is a film where Ethan Hawke and Angelina Jolie run around trying to kill each other. At the end of the movie Ange is pregnant. I don't remember much of it. Might download and rewatch just out of curiosity.


I first watched Reality Bites at the encouragement of my workmates. I was 19. After going through what we will just dub my Girl, Interrupted phase, Winona was kinda one of my heroes (expect a more detailed Winona post in the future). So Ethan and Winona (Noni, as she was known[i] in my house) was the perfect combo. Troy and Leilana in this film are basically in the situation that I feel that I am in now, except for there's no fear of aids here. And there's no Ben Stiller in my life, though frankly given his post-Greenberg silver fox thing I would totally be up for that (also my general desperation/thing for the pseudo-jewish). Anyway Reality Bites is probably the reason that I see Ethan Hawke as being someone desirable. 'All we need is you, me, some coffee and cigarettes'. Aww.

At the moment I am reading this book called 'Ash Wednesday', written by Ethan Hawke. I found it in a bookshop in a little town north of Melbourne called Kyneton. In the same bookshop (also sells tapes, records & cds) I found, on tape, the soundtrack to Reality Bites. I was destined to purchase both of these items. Ash Wednesday is about a couple who are floundering in their lives, in their relationship. The girl is pregnant. The guy has dad issues. It's what you'd expect Troy or Ethan's character in the Before series to write. Every now and then there's something vaguely philosophical that I agree with. Guess they're on the brink of the rest of their lives or something. Feels really American though, all military boots and Greyhound buses, but is a decent read.

Recently I watched New York, I Love You for two reasons: Orlando Bloom and Ethan Hawke. I was excited because when I looked the movie up on IMDB Ethan's character was listed simply as 'writer'. Unfortunately the American version of Paris Je T'aime pales in comparison. While the French one actually made me FEEL something more than once, the American one just made me slightly confused and laugh. Although the old couple were cute. Orlando was sexy as hell if you're wondering, but I feel like there's something wrong with lil Christina Ricci these days. She looks like a real life Bratz doll, amirite? Though he was barely in it for 10 minutes, Ethan's character found time to 'have a moment' with someone ('you gotta hold onto those moments, they're special, they mean something') and sit in a cafe chain smoking.

Right now I am watching Training Day. This is an action movie starring Denzel Washington as a streetwise cop who pretty much runs with the crims so he can get to the gangsters/real bad guys. It is Ethan's first day on the job. He's learning a lot, and FAST! Essentially it is an odd couple action movie. Denzel is so badass.

Think you can probably discern things about what I think Ethan Hawke's typical roles are. In Training Day he looks really wide-eyed but eager to prove himself. Think that is probably what appeals to me most. He also has a crease in the middle of his brow, he just looks so calculating! Lately I have been thinking that I am going to get one of those, probably by my mid-thirties. Ultimately I reckon that Ethan's track record of playing wayward romantics in films makes him desirous. The fact that he has written books makes me like him a lot more. Also the fact that he seems to be buddies with Richard Linklater is real cool. I have had Waking Life in my possession for about a year now but just haven't felt like watching it. Will report back afterwards.