A selection of videos are now up from Jan 16th’s NYC Housing Works Ginsberg Recordings First Blues launch. Hettie Jones (filmed here by Norman Savitt), after a little autobiographical reflection, reads “Broken Bone Blues” Ambrose Bye (accompanied by Devon Waldman – and Aliah Rosenthal on cello) performs Allen’s immortal “Gospel Noble Truths”Andy Clausen gives a rousing (as ever) reading of the “Capitol Air” lyrics, David Amram (recalls Allen and Bob Dylan and Allen’s first forays into music – he also performs his own “My Buddha Angel of Cheng Du”, accompanying himself on guitar, pennywhistles, and Chinese hulusi – (not to mention scat-singing, yodelling and, the center-piece, a Mandarin Chinese sing-along!) Kevin Twigg is on glockenspiel and drums). C.A.Conrad reads “No Reason” (rendered on First Blues by it’s author, the absent-for-that-particular-night Steven Taylor), as well as the heartbreaking late lyric, “Gone Gone Gone
C.A. and everyone can be seen being introduced by, m-c for the evening, Bob Rosenthal)
Oh, and here’s Anne Waldman (with the Bye-Waldman-Rosenthal back-up band) and her performance of her own “Bardo Corridor”, her hommage to Allen on that night.
[Please note that videos in the First Blues feature that say “clairedelune49” were filmed by Thelma Blitz, not Norman Savitt. This includes the Andy Clausen, Ambrose Bye, CA Conrad, and Anne Waldman videos. The David Amram and Hettie Jones videos are by Norman Savitt].
(From the UK press) – Here’sDamon Wise in The Guardian – “Kill Your Darlings”..is the real deal, a genuine attempt to source the beginning of America’s first true literary counterculture of the 20th Century…it creates a true story of energy and passion, for once eschewing the clacking of typewriter keys to show artists actually talking, devising, and ultimately daring each other to create and innovate”
and here’s Emma Jones in The Independent – “America’s most awarded 20th Century poet [sic] has been portrayed before – most notably, recently, by James Franco in Howl – but (Daniel) Radcliffe provides a defining performance. He is simply terrific as the 18 year old Ginsberg, fumbling with his sexuality as well as his spectacles, and entirely in the thrall of his friend, fellow writer, Lucien Carr.”
Matt Goldberg on Collider.com takes it even further – “Radcliffe’s transformation to the next phase of his acting career is complete with Kill Your Darlings. The range and magnitude of his performance here is nothing short of breathtaking. We feel every ounce of Ginsberg’s pain, frustration and longing, and Radcliffe makes it look effortless. So much is happening inside Ginsberg – from the development of his poetic voice to his guilt over his schizophrenic mother’s imprisonment at an asylum to his love for Lucien – Radcliffe perfectly hits every moment in the character’s emotional whirlwind. He is the broken but still beating heart of the story, and his longing for Carr is almost completely devastating.”.. “In his magnificent debut feature, director and co-writer John Krokidas has created a moving, exhilarating, and heartbreaking film.”
Radcliffe himself has spoken out, intelligently, about the film: “I don’t care why people come and see films. If they come and see a film about the Beat poets because they saw me in “Harry Potter” – fantastic, that’s a wonderful thing.”…I feel like I have an opportunity to capitalize on “Potter” by doing work that might not otherwise get attention. If I can help get a film like this attention , that’s, without doubt, that’s a great thing”
>and to the BBC (see also here) (regarding his, perhaps, controversial casting as Allen) – “I was daunted by taking on such a great figure”..”I certainly understood a lot more about him and his poetry, particularly “Howl”, after being immersed in this period in his life”.
As has been reported some years back, (for example here) Daniel has his own poetic background , and, in answer to a question in Logan Hill’s recent Esquire interview – (“I’m sometimes haunted by that Ginsberg line [from “America”] – “Are you going to let your emotional life be run by Time magazine?/ I’m obsessed by Time magazine./ I read it every week.” – Doyou have a favorite line?) – His reply: “I don’thave a favorite line, but I have a favorite poem (of Allen ‘s) – “Kaddish” because of the way your knowledge of his life and his mother informs the way you read his poetry. It’s a real heart-breaker”.
The sex-scenes. (As we noted last week), the sex-scenes are an obvious hook for a prurient media. Radcliffe addressed these issues early (to MTV) – “It’s interesting that it’s deemed shocking. For me, there’s something very strange about that because we see straight sex all the time. We’ve seen gay sex scenes before. I don’t know why a gay sex scene should be any more shocking than a straight sex scene – Or, both of them are equally un-shocking.”
He further elaborates in this interview with Out magazine, and in this interview with Vulture.com: “My favorite John Krokidas direction moment was when we [he and Dane DeHaan] started kissing. I guess I was way too hesitant about it in the moment, and John just went,”No, kiss him, fucking sex-kissing!”. That was my favorite note that I’ve gotten, probably in my career! [laughs]. Especially with the world that I’ve come from! The things that directors have shouted to me in the past usually involve which way I have to look to see the dragon!” – And: “You know I think (the dissemination of that image) will be wonderful. Dane and I are banging the drum already because we want the MTV “best kiss” award. We want that golden popcorn! To my knowledge, a sincere, passionate, romantic gay kiss has never won, so I think that would be a very cool thing for this movie to receive”.
Michael Polish’s Big Sur also debuted (this past Wednesday) at Sundance (to slightly less fanfare!). Here are a few of the initial reviews
Tim Grierson for Screen Daily– “Big Sur achieves one of the trickier challenges in cinema, dramatising the inner demons of a character awash in melancholy and addiction. This unapologetic mood piece…does a fine job of making inertia and self-doubt palpable while keeping pretentiousness and self-indulgence at bay…(It) is simply too small and idiosyncratic a film to attract a large audience, but the author’s fans should be suitably intrigued by this impresionistic portrait”.
Allison Loring for Film School Rejects – “Breath-taking visuals of Big Sur and the Californian coast make you feel that you are there, which, when paired with the beautiful score…feels like true escapism and make the juxtaposition against Kerouac’s break-down all the more tragic. (On the downside), while all the actors are clearly committed to their performances, (Jean-Marc) Barr (the Kerouac figure)’s lack of interaction with them, particularly when the story revolved around him, caused the ensemble to feel like an under-rehearsed stage-play rather than a tight-knit group of friends”.
Glen Warchol for Salt Lake Magazine is glibly dismissive – The movie, he declares, suffers from “too much polish (sic) and too little motion”.
That NYU show of Allen’s photos, “Beat Memories”, remains up (it’ll be up for a while, until the first week of April). Here’s three more notices of it – here (Ariella Budick in The Financial Times), here (Michael H Miller in The Gallerist) and here (Matthew Smolinsky’s “Real In A Really Sacred World
City Lights blog, the wonderfully-titled “Abandon All Despair Ye Who Enter Here”, we’re always happy to recommend. It features, this week, notes on Gordon Ball and his East Hill Farm memoir (including a clip of his “A Winter’s Day at Allen Ginsberg’s Farm in Cherry Valley..” )
Michalis Limnios on his Blues@Greece site continues to astound with his remarkable collection of interviews. The most recent? – with George Laughead, curator/creator of, “an on-line history of Beats in the Heartland”, “Beats in Kansas” – “I put up Beats in Kansas at KU (Kansas University) because of the odd fact that 80 percent of the living Beats were from Kansas”.
Actually, blink, and here’s another one! – Cliff Anderson talks about his experience and friendship with Jack Kerouac.
Michael Rothenberg reminds us of an urgent matter – Qatari poet, Mohamed Ibn Al Alami’s currrent life-time imprisonment. So far over 12,000 people have signed a petition, calling for his release, generating over 60,000 lettters to the Qatar Embassy.