How important is it to make an effort. To try. To persist. To fight through gas pain and constipation and physical exhaustion and that ornery ole cuss called laziness. And for what? To write to express to say something anything because without the writing without the effort I am left in the void killing time so carelessly as sure as it is killing me. The head aches. The pulsating pain in the belly rages. The body cries out to lay down lie down be down to drown helplessly in sleep. If it comes. What a wicked bastard sleep can be. Begging to be employed then staying at arm’s length. Teasing taunting. For that is what awaits. That and more gastrointestinal discomfort. Doubts too. Damned doubts crowding into a brain desperate for reassurance for comfort for the soothing balm of righteous certainty. Accursed pride and flimsy wisdom. Where art thou? Surety? But do doubts want to be assured? I think not because then they will cease to be. Doubts want to live to be so they fend off hope and optimism. Bastards.
So the words are forced from the source. Wherever whatever that may be. The combative man struggles to tame his own impulses and loses nothing but his mind. And still the awful pain wrenches. The eyelids grow heavier and the fingers tire. Tire. My ire. Cue the choir. Hallelujah I will stop now.
But for what?
We shall see,;.:
Kill Your Darlings brings to life the epic meetings of fabled legendary and wondrous writers Allen Ginsberg Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs with Lucien Carr mixed in for very good measure. To some of us their time together in New York is the stuff of great history stories which alert the muse. There was of course a murder thrown into the mix committed by Carr against his constant stalker David Kammerer. The film concerns itself with these men and that tragedy (for which Carr received a figurative slap on the wrist having successfully claimed that Kammerer was making unwanted homosexual advances).
It’s risky business depicting characters and events well known and beloved. Others have failed as in the recent screen rendition of Kerouac’s On the Road. But first time director John Krokidas hits his marks and then soars beyond. While KYD is not an unqualified stand on your seat and applaud success its a bloody good movie that I am still pondering 24 hours after seeing it. Huzzah!
First we start with our central character a personal hero of mine Allen Ginsberg. Here he is portrayed by -- what’s this? Harry Potter you say? -- Daniel Radcliffe. Young master Radcliffe does not disappoint. He resembles the young Ginsberg enough and beyond that does nothing to suggest he is not him incarnate. However Ben Foster as William Burroughs does convince us that he is in fact the man come back to life. Foster doesn’t just have the look of Burroughs but the voice and his every action is suggestive of what I know of the writer. I’ve seen Foster knock a role out of the park before and am of the strong opinion that he is a helluva an actor.
Jack Huston is among three actors to portray Kerouac in the past year and does an admirable job. Huston only vaguely resembles my favorite all time novelist -- something he cannot be blamed for -- but sounds and acts enough like him that the story is not interrupted by his presence.
Finally we have the relative neophyte Dane DeHaan as Carr. Carr is less familiar to us then the others so this actor has more leeway. But I have to say they got a ringer for Carr with piercing blue eyes that one imagines would drive the girls and some of the guys wild. DeHaan is excellent as the troubled but exciting and excitable Carr. (While we’re on the subject of actors and characters a special nod to David Cross as Ginsberg father, Louis.)
Krokidas never lets the story lag the pacing is crisp the camera work and surrealism muted enough not to detract from the story but prevalent enough to do proper justice to the goings-on. Which by god did go on.
Ginsberg is a freshman at Columbia University (at the same time my mother was a grad student there -- did they meet? -- doubt it). First he meets Carr who is the type of bloke some of us are lucky enough to meet at the right times of our lives. The charismatic exciting inspirational ultra cool bohemian who can shake the dust of our lives and getting us up about and thrilled about it all. All of it. Here is adventure here is excitement here is grabbing life and making it your own.
For young men this means parties booze drugs opening your mind to other possibilities to all possibilities and it also means meeting people. Lots of different people with different ideas. Ginsberg was so damn lucky he met no less than William Burroughs. Then tops that off with Jack fucking Kerouac. None of three had yet published anything and were far from famous. But there they were about to kick literature in the ass.
For Ginsberg school and poetry and life did not mix. School would have to give way. Meter and rhyme were eschewed by Walt Whitman so they had no chance with him. In Carr and co. he had inspirations aiders and abetters. Kill Your Darlings captures all this as it does the strange case of Kammerer the professor who gave up all to be with his beloved Carr who in turn grew increasingly annoyed with this obsessed and almost certainly mentally ill man. Killing him is of course far too harsh but it is a crime of passion and did happen and that is as they say that.
Kill Your Darlings portrays Carr as the catalyst he was having played the crucial role of getting Ginsberg out and about and introduced to Burroughs and Kerouac. It does not let him off easily. This is not his story and we are not left feeling great sympathy for him. We are left excited about Ginsberg and the amazing poetry he was to create and the transcendent life he was to lead.
For those of us familiar with the characters and the story KYD will not disappoint in fact it will send us back to books and novels and poems and videos and photos that we have seen before and now need to see again in a new light. Others? Can’t really say. I’m not an other I’m me. But me liked. Maybe others will too.