Big Sur

discs header short term 12

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Short Term 12 Grace (Brie Larson) works at a home for troubled teens, but while she’s fantastic at her job, her empathy for the kids sees her bringing home their pains far too often. Her boyfriend (John Gallagher Jr.) works there too and hopes the two of them can grow as a couple, but he knows her past has led to too much of her heart being cordoned off for the kids. Their situation grows even more untenable when a new girl arrives at the facility. Writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton‘s film is a small wonder. It’s essentially a character piece, a glimpse into the life and love of one woman and the people around her, but it’s crafted and performed so effortlessly that it feels like emotionally rich time spent laughing and crying with friends. There’s a slight misstep in the third act where the film loses sight of its characters in deference to a more conventional narrative, but it’s a minor trespass. Check out Allison’s full review here. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, behind the scenes, featurettes, original short film]

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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 […]

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Ender

The first weekend of November is hallmarked by a continuing wave of prestigious Oscar contenders and pockmarked by the chaff that studios are still dumping into a handful of contractually obligated theaters. How else do you explain Last Vegas and Dallas Buyers Club landing on the same week? Beyond those we’ve got a boy vying to be the last starfighter, a pair of biopics that look difficult to swallow and a ton of limited releases that show promise. Get up off your knees, reach for the stars, and check out the trailer-ized list of movies coming out this weekend.

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Sundance: Big Sur

Hot on the heels of the trailer for Kill Your Darlings comes another film about the beat generation – but it’s no tale of fresh faces in a new movement, nor does it take place anywhere near ivy-covered halls. Michael Polish‘s Big Sur is the adaptation of the Jack Kerouac novel that chronicles his life long after the young and wreckless On the Road days have settled in the past. But that doesn’t mean that Kerouac (Jean-Marc Barr) has any less of an interesting life now that he’s older, wiser, more accomplished – he’s just restless  and looking for escape. So he heads out to Big Sur in search of both peace and company, and certainly finds it in friend Neal Cassady’s (Josh Lucas) mistress (Kate Bosworth). With a location like Big Sur, it’s hard for your trailer not to be a stunner. However, our own Allison Loring felt that the prettiness wasn’t enough to save it when she reviewed the film for Sundance earlier this year. Still, holding judgement based on the trailer alone, the film looks intriguing based on the premise that it’s based on a novel from the later part of the beat movement — meaning it’s not going to be as carefree or lively as something written in his younger years. We’re now observing a beatnik with responsibilities, is what I’m saying. Also, I’m just a sucker for when dialogue is written in the same fashion as an author’s writing style. Take a look at the […]

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Sundance: Big Sur

Jack Kerouac is best known for his novel “On The Road,” which helped inspire the Beat generation and brought the author fast fame, but his next novel, “Big Sur,” told the story of how success only made Kerouac feel more lost and trapped. Director Michael Polish attempts to bring the novel to life with Big Sur as we watch Kerouac (Jean-Marc Barr) travel to the beautiful area to secretly stay in his friend Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s (Anthony Edwards) cabin and try and find some peace.

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