DVD Big Sur

DVD Big Sur
DVD Big Sur
Run time: 81 min
Rating: 5.8
Genres: Drama
Director: Michael Polish
Writers: Jack Kerouac, Michael Polish
Stars: Jean-Marc Barr, Kate Bosworth, Josh Lucas
Storyline
Sudden fame and a self-destructive lifestyle were taking a toll on Jack Kerouac’s mind and body following the unparalleled success of the groundbreaking novel, On The Road. Once the handsome literary maverick and hero of the Beat Generation, Kerouac now sees only a vestige of his former self, ravaged by alcohol and drugs, aged beyond his years and tormented by self-doubt. Questioning his talent, his faith, and his mortality, Kerouac leaves New York for California, on a quest for redemption at an isolated, fog-banked cabin in the primitive landscape of the Big Sur woods. What ensues in those fateful 3 weeks of August, 1960, is both terrifying and revelatory. While Kerouac is able to find beauty and elation in his surroundings, the dichotomy of his psyche renders him unable to face his demons alone. He sets off on a visceral collision course of paranoia, sex, delirium tremens, misery and madness. His desperation culminates in an intense, hallucinatory breakdown, but the duality of his … Written by Anonymous
Plot Keywords: big sur, cabin, beat generation, poet, california
Details:
Country: USA
Release Date: 1 November 2013 (USA)
Box Office
Opening Weekend: $16,835 (USA) (1 November 2013)
Gross: $33,621 (USA) (15 November 2013)

4 Comments

  1. I think it is fair to warn people that the telling factor on whether you will enjoy this film or not is your relationship with Jack Kerouac and the writers of that time and crowd. The more you enjoy Kerouac's writing the more you will enjoy this film which has remained true to him and his words. If you don't enjoy Kerouac or are not familiar with him, then you might be tempted to walk out, or pass out with boredom.

    M. David Mullen's cinematography is spectacular and the Big Sur coast is stunning even on a bad day. But for the average viewer, this is a film with not much of a story or character development and an often irritating narration (Kerouac's words) that, depending on your love of Kerouac will come across as either evidence of his genius or delusional in it's presumption of profundity.

  2. After watching the "On The Road" movie and reading negative reviews about "Kill Your Darlings" I wasn't expecting much from "Big Sur". But I was very pleasantly surprised with how well it was done. The majority of the dialogue is voice-over in Kerouac's own words and other than a couple of minor details the movie stays true to the book. Jean-Marc Barr gave an excellent portrayal of Kerouac, even though he doesn't sound like him very much or even attempt to replicate Kerouac's accent. Patrick Fischler was great as Lew Welch and Henry Thomas offers up some of his best work as Philip Whalen. My only complaint is in the portrayal of the sub-story regarding the goldfish in Billie's apartment. Without giving anything away I'll just say that I didn't think it was handled very well.

    Other than that the cinematography is absolutely beautiful and the soundtrack set the mood perfectly throughout the movie. I'm really glad that someone finally made a Kerouac movie the right way, by respectfully staying true to the book. This is easily my favorite movie of 2013 so far.

  3. It's impossible to discuss this movie without putting it in the context of "On The Road", which could not find an audience. Knowledge of who Kerouac was is limited in the TV age; and his books, all fictionalized tales, yet autobiographical in nature (and to some a serialized mythology of an artist's life) are reduced to a cult-fan base in this era. If the iconic road story that launched Kerouac into the literary firmament was rejected by the Superhero loving movie audience of today, what chance does a psychological internal monologue about an artist's descent into alcoholism have.

    So we are left with a simple dividing line: do you know the work of Kerouac and the milieu of "The Beats"? If you don't, then this movie will seem odd and slow-paced, overwhelmingly pointless and pretentious. If you are a fan, then we are confronted with another question: Is simply seeing the narratives underlying Kerouac's poetic stream of conscious writing brought to life worth dealing with the limitations of converting works of art that are not plot-based to film? Like "On The Road", "Big Sur" delivers a simple enough joy to the Kerouac fan. There it is: a dramatization of Kerouac's iconic writings, replete with tons of required voice-over narration of the jazz-based flowing verbiage that makes Kerouac Kerouac. But, you can't help but think, wow-it's just not possible to make a conventional movie out of a Kerouac story, you must have excessive narration, because Kerouac was entirely about the words – the rhythm, the cadence, the explosion of images and alliterations. None of this is bad, but it requires an acceptance of the source we are dealing with to accept such an extensive override of normal plot-driven movie storytelling.

    The movie is well directed. Polish mixes imagery well, establishes mood and atmosphere, and handles the semi-hallucinatory descent into alcoholic stupor with a pleasant restraint.

    The actors all do top-notch work, although some of the peripheral characters such as Lew Welch, Ferlinghetti, and Whalen seem to have no emotional connection to the main character or his problems. They are just there. Even Neal Cassady ultimately fades away at the end.

    Kate Bosworth enters the movie halfway through the story and become the last lifeline that Kerouac throws away. While undeveloped as a character, she does a fine job representing the last real thing left to hold onto. She fits the role well, and plays out heart-wrenching string aptly, as a character smart enough and jaded enough to cope with her fate.

    As a fan of Kerouac, I can say that there is so much good about this movie and it's straight forward attempt at delivering Kerouac's last important novel as a film, that I would recommend it highly to anyone that enjoyed "On the Road" as a film. If you were bored with OTR, or didn't get it, you will not enjoy this subtle intelligent movie.

  4. As a longtime fan of Kerouac and reader of many of his works, I'm accustomed to his spontaneous, stream-of- consciousness writing. As such, I enjoyed the manner in which the narration was executed as it represented an accurate portrayal of his style.

    "Big Sur" was written at a point in Jack's life during which his demons were beginning to take hold, replacing the wonder and excitement depicted in his earlier works with dread, self- loathing and ultimate despair. The bottle was no longer a means with which to enhance new experiences, rather, it had become a dark and lonely place in which to hide. This is not a feel- good story.

    Overall, I felt the film provided an accurate portrayal of Jack at this point in his life and it mostly depicted the various characters as I would have expected, given their descriptions in the book. Neal was a likable wild man who also seemed larger than life and I felt that his persona and magnetic traits were well portrayed.

    The only issue I had with the film was somewhat superficial and it concerns the modern hairstyles of Billie and Lenora – especially the latter, woodenly played by Stana Katic, who seemed to be a poor casting choice, in general. In fact, the period-incorrect styling choices of these two characters somewhat detracted from the feel of the scenes in which they were involved, which I found to be a rather disappointing oversight on the part of the director.

    The period style issues aside, this is an enjoyable film for those who are fans of Jack's life and writing style. To the casual viewer, it will likely come across as heavy, meandering and a bit depressing.

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