Intellectual Curiosities and Provocations

Road Drops

By Levi Asher on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 07:30 am

The film version of Jack Kerouac's On The Road has dropped! I never thought it would happen.

The movie is not yet in general release, but it has premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and reactions to the long-awaited literary adaptation are starting to pour in. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times praises the movie's integrity and seriousness, but describes the cinematic experience as "respectable, muted". Reviewers from the Guardian and Film School Rejects also describe an honorable attempt to capture the scope of Kerouac's novel that doesn't quite come together on screen. The biggest rave so far is from Jerry Cimino of San Francisco's Beat Museum, who says that "purists will be elated". (Jerry was a consultant to the filmmakers, which may have colored his very positive reaction -- however, he knows his Kerouac, and the fact that he loves the film wholeheartedly means a lot.)

Other reactions can be found here, here and here. I'll have more to say, of course, when I finally get to see the movie myself.

2. On to other things! Like, for instance, sonnets. Every once in a while, some ambitious writer decides to create an entire book in sonnet form. Chad Parmenter's iambic novel is called Bat and Man: A Sonnet Comic Book, and here are a few sample verses.

3. Flavorwire presents Marcel Proust Playing Air Guitar, and other authentic literary photographic silliness (via Books Inq).

4. John Updike's boyhood home in Shillington, Pennsylvania will become a John Updike Museum. Couples get in free.

5, It's cool of the New York Public Library to show pictures of people reading on the New York subways. Though, lest we forget, Levi Asher did the same thing four years earlier ...

6. Rebecca Solnit on the meaning of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games.

7. Litmap: W. G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn.

8. The etymology of the word "taco", from a mining explosive.

9. For what it's worth: Ten Classic Movies Drawn as Little Golden Books.

10. Impressive photographic interpretation: The People of Burning Man.

11. Iain Sinclair visits poet Gary Snyder in his "off the grid" mountainside community.

12. Ten Beautiful Buildings Inspired by Famous Books.

11 Responses to "Road Drops"

by TKG on

Hi Levi,

I read the Film School Rejects review yesterday as well and thought it had an excellent comment in its opening paragraph that's worth quoting here:

"Jack Kerouac‘s seminal “On The Road” is not one of those books [easily adaptable to a movie] – 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..."

I post this to make a point about Kerouac's writing and literature in general -- not with respect to whether it actually is a good movies.

One cool thing Ive seen due to the OTR build-up is the face book site for Big Ed Dunkle -- Al Hinkle.

http://www.facebook.com/Big.Ed.Dunkel

He's alive and well (not a ghost) and on The Facebook. It's amazingly cool. But my superficial take is that Hinkle was miscast -- the actor looks a bit doughy.

Sam Riley also doesn't seem like a football player.

And, it was always a mystery what part Buscemi would play -- Hassel/Huncke was probably what people thought early on.

But now we know -- a character not actually in the 1957 publication of On the Road, but in Visions of Cody (and perhaps the scroll?). The screenwriter used the scroll which was published a few years back.

I'm sure they used Jack's Book as well.

by TKG on

Check out This Link.

It has an embed of a scene from the film. It's of Mary Lou driving and talking to Sal about how she just wants a normal life and wished Dean wasn't so crazy. And there is another embed of another scene with Sal and Camille dancing in a Denver bar. Carlo and Dean are in the background.

Unfortunately, the scene doesn't calm my biggest concern about this adaptation which is that they made it in to a melodrama.

The trailer, which was the only other available footage I'd seen had a component where Dean was lamenting and being introspective of the bad things he does.

I guess even in 2012 they have to make movies in to morality tales.

The dialog in the scene linked to is quite commonplace.

Still, I plan to see this film and not worry too much about its shortcomings if it has them.

by Michael.Norris on

I stopped in Paris on my way to Spain, and the Paris métro is filled with posters for "Sur La Route" - On The Road. Haven't had a chance to see what Le Monde thinks about the film, but I think the film will be big in France. In a news show I caught a commentator on the Cannes opening saying "l'histoire mythique de Jack Kerouac et Neal Cassady". I thought that was a good phrase - the mythic story of Kerouac and Cassady. Don't know if I will be able to catch the film on the way back - hopefully "version original" - but I'm digging the hooopla.

Version original is English with French subtitles. If it's not version original then it's dubbed. Think of how funny it would be if Dean lays down one of his raps, the the voice is that of a French guy.

Good bad or indifferant, we all have an obligation to see this film.

I hope Kirsten Stewart may lead youngs to see this film and want to know more about Kerouac. Waiting for this film in Italy.

I just finished watching Neal Cassady, the 2007 movie written and directed by Noah Buschel. I didn't know what to expect, but it was very good! Based on my understanding of Cassady's relationships with Kerouac, Carolyn Cassady, and Ken Kesey, the film is spot on. I hope On the Road is at least as good.

I stand corrected!! I've just been reading about Neal at Carolyn Cassady's web site and she says the movie got it all wrong. I apologize to Carolyn for my previous comment.

Carolyn recommends an essay called The Friendly and Flowing Savage, and a book called Beat Generation: The Daybreak Boys by Gregory Stephenson. I'm going to read them.

Speaking of people reading on New York subways, there's a Cover Spy tumblr that shows what people are reading in the subways, at the bars, in the parks:::

coverspy.tumblr.com

Unfortunately, ereaders are making judging people by what they read much harder these days....

by Fred Earnst on

Bill,
I also really liked that IFC movie by Noah Buschel called Neal Cassady and I also found it spot on. Carolyn Cassady is a notoriously bitter woman. She painted a very similar portrait of Neal that Noah Buschel did in her book Off The Road. She said Neal became a parody of himself trying to prove himself to others. If she is really interested in demythologizing Neal, she should be thankful for IFC's Neal Cassady. I was at Cannes and On The Road, which has also been picked up by IFC, is unfortunately just a pretty film made by a non American director who doesn't really have the cajonas to do anything but beautify and worship the subject matter. On The Road is an extremely weak and tepid film.

by Levi Asher on

Thanks for feedback, Fred. I hope the On The Road movie will turn out better than you describe, but then I haven't seen it and you have, so I can't express much more than hope.

Having met and hung out with Carolyn Cassady a few times, I have to say that she's not a bitter woman in general -- she's very fun, lively and charming -- but it is true that she protects Neal Cassady's public image with a bitter intensity, and any portrayal of Neal that doesn't emphasize the side of him that she prefers to emphasize will not get a fair hearing. So I agree that we shouldn't discount Noah Buschel's film based on her comments (I haven't seen this film yet either, but I've heard good things about it).

by LP on

That movie is garbage! Consider it your duty to avoid it at all costs. IT MADE MY SOUL PUKE.

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