Becky is studying for a Masters in English Literature whilst attempting to not get distracted by her steadily increasing DVD collection. Hobbies include watching said DVDs, voicing too many opinions on student radio and following both Sale Sharks and England rugby teams. She also has a slightly unhealthy obsession with The Princess Bride and and an ability to insert film quotations into every day conversation.
Thor: The Dark World opened in the United States this weekend, taking a whacking great $31.6 million on the Friday alone. I took this fact from The Hollywood Reporter's article about the Marvel sequel's box office takings which is a fairly matter of fact affair in its opening sentence. After that though, the report features a curious paragraph based on the gender split in the percentages.
The final film in this cinematic journey through the Beat Generation is the long-awaited adaptation of the most famous work of literature from that period, Jack Kerouac's On The Road. It seems fitting then that we end this cinematic journey through the Beat movement with the ultimate Beat journey, a trip across America in a beat up '49 Hudson.
"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked…"
So begins one of the most famous poems in the English language and the Beat generation, Allen Ginsberg's Howl, a lengthy, tumultuous, maddening yet joyful ode to outcasts and the people in Ginsberg's life. I must admit, when I first read it, I had absolutely no idea what was going on. As someone who had quite a traditional introduction to literature via your standard high school classroom, to be faced with this in the first week of university was alarming to say the least. It was only on revisiting the poem on my own terms that I began to really appreciate it for all of the adjectives I used to describe it earlier. Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's film of the same name is another such appreciation, a cinematic ode to Ginsberg's poem and the effect it has.
In yesterday's feature on The Last Time I Committed Suicide, I made the rather grand claim that William S Burroughs' novel, Naked Lunch, was not only an important moment in the Beat movement, but for literature in general. It was the subject of much controversy and led to discussions around the nature of censorship within literature. David Cronenberg took on the rather daunting task of adapting this infamous novel for the screen and in doing so, crafted a disturbing yet humourous look at the process of writing.
The celebration and exploration of the Beat Generation on film continues with The Last Time I Committed Suicide, a semi-biographical film based on a letter written in 1950 from Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac, nicknamed the 'Joan Henderson letter'. From this, the film spins a tale of Cassady (Thomas Jane) reeling from the attempted suicide of his girlfriend Joan (Clare Forlani), his affair with schoolgirl Cherry Mary (Gretchen Moll) and his relationship with a pool hall hang-about, Harry (a surprisingly good Keanu Reeves). Each character represents a different life for the wayward Cassady and the film follows his struggles to select which one to follow.