On The Road

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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del mar theatre mhow

“Movie Houses of Worship” is a regular feature spotlighting our favorite movie theaters around the world, those that are like temples of cinema catering to the most religious-like film geeks. This week, FSR’s own Samantha Wilson chose one of her favorite theaters. If you’d like to suggest or submit a place you regularly worship at the altar of cinema, please email our weekend editor. The Del Mar Theatre Location: 1124 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA Opened: August 14, 1936 No. of Screens: 3 Current First Run Titles: Rush and Thanks For Sharing 

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discs strike back2

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Strike Back: The Complete Second Season Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) weren’t always best of friends, and while they still argue on occasion they’ve also learned that they can trust each other when the bullets start flying. Their latest adventure finds the duo along with their new commander (Rhona Mitra) running and gunning their way across Africa in search of stolen nuclear triggers. Technically the series’ third season, this is Cinemax’s second as the producing entity, and they continue to show why no one even talks about that initial UK season any more. They also continue to show that a TV show can actually best many a lesser action movie in nearly every aspect. The acting and cast here are solid, the cinematography is theater-worthy, and the action sequences are impossibly great for a television series. They also impress with their awareness of both weaponry and tactics that add to the feeling of legitimacy. Hell, Cinemax even ensures the show maintains their high (or low?) standards when it comes to T&A. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries]

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New on VOD: Lincoln

The Video On Demand Power Ranker returns this week with a batch of new movies to watch. Sure, there are some holdovers on the list, such as (the still excellent) Life of Pi, but our brain-implanted super computer appears to be feeling that which is fresh this week. Will you go along for the journey? Don’t say no. It doesn’t like being told no.

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On the Road Movie

Editor’s note: On the Road cruises into limited release this Friday, so put your brains into gear and enjoy this re-run of our Cannes review, originally published on May 23, 2012. Some books demand adaptation, offering immediate and easily translatable promise as film projects, whether that is thanks to the power of the plot, or characters or certain ideas that would lead to a looser adaptation. Jack Kerouac‘s seminal “On The Road” is not one of those books – like the work of James Joyce, the book is explicitly literary, its content inherently bound by its form and its author so fundamentally a writer before a storyteller that many, including myself, believed it to be unadaptable. In that context, the presence of Walter Salles‘ adaptation, imaginatively called On The Road, on the In Competition list here always stood out as an intriguing prospect. How would the director who made that other road movie The Motorcycle Diaries cope with the very specific problem of adapting something that is so explicitly literary? The answer, unfortunately, is not well. For a tale which so obviously values hedonism and free expression, On The Road is ultimately joyless and unengaging, and for a self-discovering road movie to fudge the journey so much and lose almost all lasting meaning is downright criminal.

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If you’ve ever spent any extended time in a coffee shop or a freshman dorm, chances are you’ve seen a good number of young people with open hearts and confused eyes dutifully thumbing through the pages of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” It’s one of those books you just have to get into when you’re coming of age, like “The Catcher in the Rye,” or, if you’re a sociopath, Ayn Rand’s stuff. Given the book’s enduring popularity, it’s strange that it’s taken so long for Hollywood to make a big screen adaptation, but, nevertheless, the wait is over, and the first trailer for the film is here. How does it look? Well, it looks like director Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) and his camera crew have shot a beautiful film. And seeing as the narration put over this trailer quotes one of the most famous passages from Kerouac’s novel, it looks like he’s made a film that’s very much On the Road. This seems to be a straight adaptation; the essence of the book put up on the screen, without any unexpected detours.

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Based on Jack Kerouac’s novel of the same name, On The Road begins in 1947 in New York City, where a young writer, Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), finds himself introduced to the larger-than-life Dean Moriarty (played with charm and conviction by Garrett Hedlund.) Thanks to Dean’s slightly “mad” outlook on life, Sal thinks that spending time with him may lead to some good stories — and hopefully fix his current writer’s block. But more than that, Dean reminds Sal of someone. As their relationship grows, Sal gets more and more embroiled in Dean’s life, and instead of simply observing and being around it Sal starts to become an integral part of it. When Dean decides to move back to Denver to win back his young wife Marylou (Kristen Stewart), Sal takes him up on his offer to join him. As a “young writer trying to take off,” Sal literally takes off, hitchhiking his way across the country and meeting even more interesting characters and jotting more and more notes in his tiny notebooks along the way. Once in Denver, Sal finds himself quickly falling into Dean’s life of sex, drugs, and jazz, and the line between reality and fantasy starts to blur.

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This year’s AFI FEST is certainly bringing festival-goers some of the year’s biggest titles, with world premieres of Hitchcock and Lincoln, not to mention favorites from this year’s festivals like Silver Linings Playbook and Amour, and yet, when I finally sat down to begin putting together my festival schedule, it seemed to be the smaller films that caught my eye and ended up on my personal must-see list. Certainly, films I have heard about from colleagues who have caught screenings of them at other festivals are accounted for here, but my tendency to gravitate toward lesser-known titles has led me to discover some amazing little gems such as films from director Ava DuVernay (I caught her film I Will Follow at AFI FEST back in 2010 and enjoyed her latest Middle of Nowhere during the LA Film Festival this year) and, of course, my love for music-focused stories always cause those films to get top billing from me. Check out the five films I am most looking forward to seeing during this year’s AFI FEST and let me know if you are also looking forward to any these films or if hearing about them here has piqued your interest enough to add them to your own most anticipated lists!

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The Paperboy John Cusack

Last year’s Cannes Film Festival featured this year’s Oscar winning Best Actor performance thanks to the inclusion of the wonderful The Artist in competition, and though the films seem to have been chosen for their artistry and provocative subtexts more than any really commercial pointers (as always happens the year after the festival is deemed “too commercial”), there have been some seriously fine performances this year as well. There wasn’t an Uggy this year, but there was a murdered pooch in Moonrise Kingdom, a bitey Killer Whale in Rust & Bone, and a striking performance from an armadillo in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Me and You, so we’ll have to wait and see who emerges with the best animal performance. Probably won’t come from Madagascar 3 though…so for the time being, let’s stick to the humans.

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Simon has already weighed in on Moonrise Kingdom – his first Cannes film of 2012 – but we check in with him to see what 6 films he’s looking forward to the most. Plus, Movies.com’s Peter Hall faces off against Landon Palmer in the Movies News Pop Quiz, and we end up asking important questions about repertory screenings. Will the films of the future digitally last forever? Download Episode #134

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After literally days of rampant speculation and fanciful rumor-spreading (on my part), this year’s official line-up for the Cannes 2012 Film Festival has officially been unveiled by officials in the South of France. Officially. Unsurprisingly, and as predicted, my own 13 film wishlist was largely completely wrong – but I did predict a massive four (including the absence, thankfully, of Terrence Malick), and in my defense, Michael Haneke’s Love was the 14th film on my list until I decided to oust it for timing reasons. Brad Pitt, Robert Pattinson and Tom Hardy will battle each other as Killing Them Softly (the awfully renamed adaptation of Cogan’s Trade), Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis and the other needlessly renamed flick, Lawless (why not just keep it as The Wettest County?) compete for the Palme d’Or.

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Cannes! It’s upon us! At this stage last year, I offered my pre-festival wishlist for what films might screen at Cannes (and got six out of eighteen picks correct in the process), which was based on rumors and guesswork from around the net. This year, in the interest of embracing the spirit of imagination, the emphasis is on spurious gossip and pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking. Plucking films that might have an outside chance of screening on the Croisette this year (in some cases so far outside they won’t even be in France until months after the fest, probably), I’ve compiled my Ultimate Cannes 2012 Wishlist. The caveat to this of course is that probably very few of the bloody things will actually screen – at least not to the majority of the collected press – but what’s life without whimsy? Yes, the bent is firmly on American films, and English language ones, but in my defense, I don’t care. It says “wishlist” up there for a good reason. Realism aside, here are 13 movies I hope play at Cannes this May.

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Jack Kerouac‘s “On the Road” is so thoroughly based on the beauty of language that it will be interesting to see what kind of movie it will make. It’s the kind of dream project that elicits nightmares because it’s incredibly popular, but it’s also that rare case where a book is fiercely personal no matter how many millions of people read it. Walter Salles took on the challenge, and his background in road movies certainly helps, but there are some x-factors here to be sure. Sam Riley sounds appropriately gruff and wandering in voice over in the new trailer, but the movie will also be a test of whether Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart can really act or if they can only chew gum and walk. Check it out for yourself:

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as OhDaeSu2039 and CatsandDogsLvng2Gether in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the duo try to avoid the pitfalls of bad novel adaptations by exploring some of the best. How do you take a work by one and turn it into a work by thousands? How do you appease fans while introducing a new audience to the story? Does it always involve whale genitalia? What are the rules of making a great film adaptation of a book?

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Peter Hall and John Gholson stop by to drop the Cinematical tag team on me, and we discuss the finer points of Pedobear advertising. They also destroy my anticipation for two films, and we manage to discuss the worst buddy cop cliches while admitting to the ones we can’t get enough of. All of this, plus you learn what movie is like Inception meets Dora the Explorer.

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Viggo Mortensen and Amy Adams will play husband and wife in the film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” Mortensen will play “Old Bull Lee” and Adams portrays his drug addicted wife Amy. The fictional “Old Bull Lee” is writer William S. Burroughs  and Amy is Joan Vollmer. Burroughs’ wife, Vollmer died at age 28 from a gunshot to the head when Burroughs supposedly tried to shoot a water pitcher off her head. Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries) is working with a cast that includes Kristen Stewart, Kirstin Dunst, Sam Riley and Garret Hedlund.  Riley takes on the role of narrator Sam Paradise, Kerouac’s alter ego.

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The long-gestating project might be putting its rubber to the asphalt soon. Does this mean Francis Ford Coppola is going to stop making wine?

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It was the best of times and the drug-induced times in American modern history. Stick out your thumb and dig deep into the madness.

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