Big Sur is a Mopey Uneventful Adaptation of the Kerouac Classic

<i>Big Sur</i> is a Mopey Uneventful Adaptation of the Kerouac Classic

Our season of Beat regurgitation isn't quite over yet: Fast on the heels of Harry Potter and the Coffeehouse of Extroverts comes this mopey Kerouac adaptation, illustrating the quasi-memoir of the same name (which is read as narration, almost beginning to end) and casting a melancholy eye on Jack's post-fame period.

Bopping over to Lawrence Ferlinghetti's secluded cabin on the beach whenever he feels like it, Kerouac (a placid Jean-Marc Barr) mostly smokes and quaffs whiskey, while buddies Neal Cassady (Josh Lucas), Philip Whalen (Henry Thomas), and Lew Welch (Patrick Fischler) ramble drunkenly and cavort on the beach like grade-schoolers.

The sunsets and seascapes are pretty, but director Polish, one half of the Polish twin team, is content with stasis and brooding, and you don't have to be a Beat cultist to wonder why these brilliant and transgressive volcanoes of authentic cool are so friggin' boring.


Big Sur
Directed by Michael Polish
Ketchup Entertainment
Opens November 1, Cinema Village

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Kerouac's life story is at its root a tale of pulverizing alcoholism, but here, gulping hootch from the bottle is just what everyone does (except Anthony Edwards's naggy Ferlinghetti), as if it's an existential solution and not the problem.

Not exactly a hagiography, Polish's film isn't a tragedy, either — it's just an uneventful afternoon spent with a dozing rummy.

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I must say that Michael Atkinson is not on the mark with this review.  There is not any apparent knowledge of the source material nor any acknowledgment of the difficulty of adapting this book, Big Sur.  

I find that film reviewers are so demanding and precious these days that it must be like walking on eggshells now more than ever for filmmakers.  Film critics are just pre-prepared to slash and burn a film, sight unseen, in their reviews, often trashing work before it is allowed to breath.  Too many preconceptions and, perhaps, envy of working filmmakers - it seems that many of these reviewers would so rather be making a film, that they expect these working filmmakers to produce at least a flawless masterpiece every time around, just for having had the chance to film, the chance that the reviewers would love to have.  Then they sit looking at these films from what they think of as some sort of 20/20 vision, watching for flaws, judging, condemning.  That's too brutal and it's not productive.   Most films and novels don't really land safely.  Most do fail, ultimately - but critics are not helping matters at all.  I dare say that Stephen Soderbergh probably retired partly due to the fatigue caused by the enormous crap heap issued from film critics and other armchair perfectionists.  

It would be nice to see film critics be more balanced and follow some respectful guidelines in their approach to these reviews.


@HorseLoverSlim Soderbergh had his ass kissed on everything he put out, even that fight girl crap. Why he retired had nothing to do with the critics.


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