Kill Your Darlings – We mentioned last week the dissenting position, eloquently voiced by Bob Rosenthal in his post from last February – here. – “The film takes its..title too seriously”, he wrote then. “The large fabrications in the film are not so worrisome as the small ones. In any case, when the truth is stepped on and the nuance of truth is denied, the message becomes moribund”. Both Marc Olmsted in Sensitive Skin and Brian Hassett in Brianland have taken up the cudgels and gone, perhaps, even further (the latter, in particular, marshaling an impressive amount of detail, tho’ Olmsted is no slouch).
Olmsted – “So, Kill Your Darlings is like the new Star Trek movie, an alternative universe where Spock is the one to shout “Khan!” as Kirk dies, instead of the reverse. That would be annoying enough, but including Ginsberg’s own photos of the gang at the end of the credits as if what we’ve just seen is a meticulous biopic moves the film into the unacceptable, a misinformed Wikipedia entry..” There is, he observes, an inherent “sloppiness” in the telling of the story – “It is the fabrication of people who seemed to do research on what they overheard at a cocktail party”. Olmsted’s critique (more nuanced than these quotations might suggest here) bears reading in its entirety. As does Hassett‘s – “The problem is”, he writes, “telling the Kammerer murder story from Allen’s point of view is sort of like telling On The Road from Al Hinkle‘s. Allen was the least involved and the last to find out. And that this key moment in the birth of the Beat Generation should be portrayed as a trio that does not involve Jack Kerouac is like making a movie about the birth of America without Thomas Jefferson. Then there’s so much else they got factually wrong, at least compared to every account (that) I’ve ever read – and they’ve been working on it for ten years!” – Hassett declares his “biggest beef by far” – “that Frankie Edie Kerouac Parker is portrayed as a shrew. This is so wrong on so many levels”..”Then there are all these disconcerting overt implications” – “that Allen’s dad sent his mom to the insane asylum so that he could have an affair, that Lucien was the one who first said, “First thought, best thought”, that (David) Kammerer verbally asked to be stabbed and killed. When you think of the obvious well-known facts they got wrong…that they’re committing these implications to celluloid is something of a crime against real people’s reputations..” Hassett isn’t entirely condemnatory. He, generously, concludes, “But, in the end..the loving movie they made is an energetic passionate creative youthful super-college film. Good for them for sticking with it and getting it done” -“And they definitely captured Allen’s ride..with his parents, in his classroom, with his friends, losing his virginity.. I assume most Allen fans are going to love this..”
Fact and fiction – matters of verisimilitude. A lot of the debate seems to be going down about how true can you be, must you be. It is, after all, fiction, a story, just a story. As Levi Asher, echoing screenwriter Austin Bunn, notes, in his review – surely, “any historical movie has the right to cut a few facts up in the name of good cinema”. Asher has an intriguing critique of the Radcliffe performance – “I liked Radcliffe’s earnest, heartfelt Ginsberg – even though I don’t think he quite captures the weird, powerful presence the famous poet had (James Franco and other recent Allen Ginsbergs have also failed to capture his strong vibe. Having met and talked to Allen several times, I’ve sometimes struggled to describe his presence and have ended up resorting to the word “froggy”. Allen Ginsberg had a croaking voice, bulging, peeking eyes, a jumpy, crouched stance. His improbable demeanor added to the considerable urgency of his presence. I wish some actor could capture his heavy presence, his odd charisma, but if Allen Ginsberg’s spirit animal is a frog, Daniel Radcliffe’s in this movie turns out to be more like a chameleon or a cute lizard. It’s not the same thing.”
More KYD (it’s certainly getting people talking!), here’s Jay Michaelson in The Jewish Daily Forward and Peter Rainer in The Christian Science Monitor (unimpressed) and Len Gutkin in the L.A.Review of Books (“a Beatnik Animal House“? uh?), and…
More movies – Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur (starring Jean-Marc Barr as Jack) opens in limited US release November the 1st (tonight!). We’ve already previewed the trailer.
Jean-Marc Barr, who plays Kerouac, is interviewed by Salon here
Speaking of reviews, Albert Mobilio’s review of the Collected (Philip) Lamantia can be seen in the current issue of Bookforum – “From the mid-1940s till his death in 2005, Lamantia produced verse rich in flourish and invention, every bit as intense as Ginsberg’s, even as it tunes in to abstruse and deeply interior frequencies…From line to line, book to book, the quest is risky, the collisions fraught with possibility as much as with annihilation. It is precisely this deliberate courting of failure that makes him such a compelling writer and a model for any poet who might prize safety over audacity.”
“The pursuit of marvelous unities” is, (as) this Collected Poems reveals, Mobilio notes, “a turbulent and uncertain one”
Reckless pursuit – commitment and risk – “..gonna try for the kingdom, if I can” – Lou Reed, the “iconic punk poet” (as Hillel Italie so defined him in the widely-circulated AP news report last week announcing his death) has been, naturally, extensively, throughout the week, memorialized, eulogized and remembered. Here’s just a few selected sites/moments
Carl Wilson in Slate, Jon Dolan in Rolling Stone, Richard Williams in The Guardian. Luc Sante in The New Yorker, Legs McNeil in The Daily Beast, Scott McLemee in Inside Higher Ed(ucation), Glenn O’Brien in GQ, Kathleen Geir in Washington Monthly, Ray Rahman at Entertainment Weekly, Andrew Epstein for Poetry… The list goes on and on and on..
from 1967, (quoted in Aspen magazine) – “The only decent poetry of this century was that recorded on rock n roll records. Everybody knows that. Who you gonna rap with, Little Bobbie Lowell or Richard Penniman?”
from the 2010 Spin Interview – “If something of mine ever got popular, maybe I could’ve stuck with that. But that was never the point. I had other goals
Interviewer: Which were?
Lou Reed: Hubert Selby, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Delmore Schwartz. To be able to achieve what they did, in such little space, using such simple words. I thought if you could do what those writers did and put it to drums and guitar, you’d have the greatest thing on earth..”
Lou Reed on Charlie Rose in 1998,
and again, five years later, in 2003
Another great (lesser-known) poet, Frank Lima, also recently passed away. Guillermo Parra has a touching review and memoir of him here.
& from his Spring 2001 interview with the poet:
GP: Your poem “Homenaje” is dedicated to (Allen) Ginsberg. How much of an influence did his work have on you as a young writer, and, in recent years, as fellow poets?
Frank Lima: In the beginning there was Allen. Allen was the second poet I read. The first was Robert Lowell. Both were the ultimate influences in my early writing career. Allen gave me a sense of current life and immediacy. Lowell had the elegance and education that I did not have. I benefited greatly from both… My “Homenaje”, or tribute, to Allen is an honest and open acknowledgment of how important he was to my early writings – “like God/ Allen will be taken away from us/ to the slaughterhouse of dear God/ what will happen to/ Allen’s great eyes…”
Thursday – Noite Beat ’13 – Beat celebration takes place next Thursday at the Teatro Cemitério de Automóveis, Sao Paulo. Brazilian celebration of the Beat Generation! Friday – November the 8th, at the historic Jefferson Market Library in New York City – “An Evening of Motorvating” – Charles Plymell will be reading from his new book, Benzedrine Highway (introduced, on this occasion, by the legendary poet-photographer Gerard Malanga). For more information on that (both the book and the event) see here.
& pub. date for Ron Padgett’s Collected Poems is next week (November 5th). Here’s David Lehman’s review in Publishers Weekly. We’ll also be having more on that eagerly-awaited book in the weeks ahead.
Tonight Andrew Lindkvist and Daniel Lammin perform Howl at Australia’s National Portrait Gallery.