April 18, 2013

Two American classics hit the screen

What I'd be doing right now if I lived in San Francisco:  I'd be heading off to The San Francisco International Film Festival to see "Big Sur", the film version of Jack Kerouac's later autobiographical novel, the one set not in the fired-up we'll be young forever days of On the road, but when the road of excess was leading, more than to the palace of wisdom, to the palace of misery and delirium tremens, in this case a lonely cabin in Big Sur.

I should say here that I haven't seen last year's film version of On the Road, even though there are lots of copies at the library. I just assumed -- because I've seen it happen so often -- that no actor of this period could be Dean Moriarty or Sal Paradise for me, that they would always look like models for The Gap, which actually did use that famous photo of Jack Kerouac in Greenwich Village for one of their ads.


(thanks to Dan Colman on the Open Culture website for this, and for the great line "As for what happened in Kerouac’s grave, we can only conjecture".)

And then, how to ignore the warning in Andrew O'Hagan's recent and very interesting piece "Jack Kerouac: Crossing the line"  in The New York Review of Books about Kerouac-inspired movies  (and about Joyce Johnson's book The voice is all: the lonely victory of Jack Kerouac), which compares the movie "On the Road", for depth of spiritual involvement, to "The Real Housewives of Orange County"? The truth is, the "On the Road" movie I'd like to see is the one Jack Kerouac wanted to see made, with Marlon Brando -- and this was Brando in his "Wild One" period -- as Dean Moriarty, and Jack himself, who was Sal Paradise, as Sal Paradise.

"Big Sur" has a fantastic trailer and I can't swear to it from seeing a trailer but I get the feeling that Jack Kerouac would not be turning in his grave, and might even have liked it. The San Francisco website sfist named it one of their top festival picks and said "[director] Polish’s seventh collaboration with cinematographer M. David Mullen yields spectacular results both in the paradise on earth that is Big Sur and in San Francisco where locations include Tenderloin tenements, City Lights Bookstore and Tosca in only the third screen adaptation of one of Kerouac's books and one that proves that the writer's dense, language-driven novels can, indeed, be gloriously cinematic."

Gloriously cinematic, that's for me. Not to mention the effect of hearing the names of all those places of the heart.

Here's the trailer:

There's another work by a great American writer, one who, like Kerouac, became himself a story as important as any of the stories he wrote, which has also just been turned into a movie. Did you guess it? It's F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. I say "Did you guess it?" as a bit of a disclaimer, as I'm sure everyone knows about this movie, if only because it stars two famous actors, neither of whom look like Gap ads and both of whom are favourites of mine, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. Here's the trailer for it, with a non-jazz age soundtrack which is outrageously suited, and Leonardo in great Gatsby-esque form:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

If you love great last lines in literature, add this one from The Great Gatsby to your collection, if it's not already there.

And for anyone who enjoys book cover art from the past...

A set of Big Sur covers on flickr  
A set of  Great Gatsby covers from Paste magazine

From the library:

The Great Gatsby  the book, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Big Sur    the book, by Jack Kerouac

On the Road    the book, by Jack Kerouac
On the Road    the movie, by Walter Salles

Ditulis Oleh : Karen Craig // 14:30


Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.