Allen Ginsberg

Kill Your Darlings

Perhaps the most misleading aspect of the new crop of Beat movies that have surfaced during the past few years is that they obscure the fact that there was once an older crop of Beat movies. If your only exposure is Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl, Walter Salles’ On the Road, John Krokidas’ Kill Your Darlings, and Michael Polish’s Big Sur, you might assume that the Beats participated in an artistic movement reserved exclusively for the written word. Yet Allen Ginsberg was front-and-center of experimental film projects like 1959’s Pull My Daisy (narrated by Kerouac) and 1966’s Chappaqua, while William S. Burroughs spent most of his career after the 1970s in independent films (alongside producing spoken word albums). Even Jack Kerouac, the most novelistic of the best-known Beats, showed his media literacy by recording improvisatory experiments in audio technology before he published “On the Road.” The literary Beats not only inspired later independent filmmakers, musicians, and artists, but they participated in multimedia productions themselves, seeking to realize a revolutionary new aesthetic across a variety of platforms of expression, often concurrently with their most famous published work. There is nothing inherently wrong with focusing only on these authors’ best-known works in adapting them to screen, but the resulting films do reinforce a rather common image of the Beats as forever-young literary outsiders, when they were in fact heavily involved in the social and artistic movements their work cultivated and helped inspire throughout their lives. But this raises a question: Do […]


Daniel Radcliffe as Ginsberg

It’s a brief glimpse, but here is your first look at Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg in John Krokidas’ Kill Your Darlings. The film depicts the story of a murder at Columbia University in the 1940s that brings the poet together with William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac to form the Beatnik Justice League for the first time. I’m actually being told that the incident inspired the trio to write, and not to fight crime, but I kind of liked my version better. As is the nature with teasers, we’re not given much to work with in these thirty seconds. We’ve got Radcliffe in some punchy horn-rimmed glasses taking in his surroundings as a wide-eyed student at Columbia University as someone inspires chaos in the library, Dead Poets Society style. His American accent isn’t too shabby either, but in the main piece of dialogue where it gets put to use, he gets cut off mid-sentence by the end of the teaser. Booo! I suppose we’ll just have to wait for the full-length trailer to find out why Allen Ginsberg is a troublemaking young student-slash-gifted-poet who appears to be breaking all the rules at his straight-laced school.


The upcoming movie Kill Your Darlings will look at the relationship between beat authors Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, and the man who introduced them, Lucien Carr. It was a relationship that reportedly began with murder, as soon after the three became friends Carr was implicated in the killing of another man named David Kammerer, and the famous authors found themselves caught in the middle of all the drama. Sounds like a saucy little story, especially with the “based on true events” factor that it has working for it. But perhaps even more exciting than the murder aspects of this story is the cast that it is now being assembled to bring it to life. The first casting announcement was that Daniel Radcliffe would be shrugging off his wizarding robe and branching out in another direction to portray Ginsberg. The idea of watching Radcliffe do something so different could have been enough to sell people on this movie alone, but some new casting details have surfaced that add to the anticipation. According to a report from Variety, not only has the Kerouac role been filled by Boardwalk Empire’s Jack Huston, and the Carr role filled by In Treatment’s Dane DeHaan, but Martha Marcy May Marlene’s breakout star Elizabeth Olsen has signed on as well. She’ll be playing Edie Parker, who was an art student and a girlfriend of Kerouac’s.


Daniel Radcliffe

James Franco isn’t just known as the greatest Oscars host of all-time, he’s also an actor. An actor who up until now was the most recent man to portray legendary beat poet Allen Ginsberg on screen. Franco played Ginsberg in the movie Howl, which didn’t shy away from the perceived obscenity of Ginsberg’s works, the fact that there was a lot of drug use going on in the man’s life, or the fact that he was pretty openly homosexual. You have to be comfortable dealing with some pretty risqué stuff if you’re going to accurately portray Ginsberg on film, so it makes sense that an actor as concerned with being artsy and progressive as James Franco would take the poet on. But what’s a little more shocking is the newest actor who is going to be stepping into Ginsberg’s shoes. In the upcoming film Kill Your Darlings the poet is going to be played by none other than… Harry Potter?!


James Franco in Howl

Today Oscilloscope Laboraties announced that you will be able to see Howl this year, as per my recommendation after seeing it at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.


The interpretation of art is tricky. In fact, most great works of art are the trickiest because what makes them great is that they can mean different things to different people. Such is the overwhelming theme of Rob Epstein’s excellent film, Howl.


Mary-Louise Parker

It looks as if Nancy Botwin will be dealing her “MILF Weed” to the beatnik brigade in the upcoming Allen Ginsberg biopic.

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published: 12.19.2014
published: 12.18.2014
published: 12.17.2014

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