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And the Beats Go On (and On)

Culture

One more for the road, ‘Big Sur’ promises to blow all the other Jack Kerouac vehicles away.

First looks at tonally-harmonious director Michael Polish’s film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s “Big Sur”–which debuted last month at Sundance–are all visual, no dialogue, the way a movie trailer ought to be that is set in this foggy-glorious stretch of the craggy Pacific Coast.

Starring Stana Katic, Kate Bosworth and Josh Lucas (as the fictionalized Neal Cassady), “Big Sur” recounts several trips Kerouac took to the land of towering cliffs and teetering cabins to clean up and regroup. It was his last novel, published in 1962. And while it’s more sobering than many of his jazz-riffing run-ons, it finds him stinking-drunker than ever, free-loading at his pal Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s getaway. Poseidon and Mother Nature couldn’t put Jack back together again.

Here’s a set-up taste of the novel’s prose, which we like: “…Drunken visitors puking in my study, stealing books and even pencils …Me drunk practically all the time to put on a jovial cap to keep up with all this but finally realizing I was surrounded and out numbered and had to get away to solitude again or die I wake up drunk, sick, disgusted, frightened, in fact terrified by that sad song across the roofs mingling with the lachrymose cries of a Salvation Army meeting on the corner below “Satan is the cause of your alcoholism, Satan is the cause of your immorality, Satan is everywhere workin to destroy you unless you repent now” and worse than that the sound of old drunks throwing up in rooms next to mine, the creak of hall steps, the moans everywhere….Including the moan that had awakened me, my own moan in the lumpy bed, a moan caused by a big roaring Whoo Whoo in my head that had shot me out of my pillow like a ghost.” Yeah, sounded like he had to get out of Dodge.

The film adaptation co-stars Anthony Edwards and Balthazar Getty, and man, this thing looks gorgeously atmospheric, and anything but ham-fisted. Can’t wait to see who ends up distributing it. Stay tuned, new-and-old Beatniks everywhere.

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