Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Kill Your Darlings

I mention in the review that a supporting cast member makes the biggest impression on me in Kill Your Darlings, and it should be very clear that I'm talking about David Cross. He's got about five or ten minutes of screen time, but his character often seems to be the most genuinely alive of the bunch. I don't really get into the other "hey is that...?" adult characters in there, but they amused me: First, Kyra Sedgwick shows up in a few scenes as the mother of one of the leads, and it's kind of weird seeing her without her accent at all. She's also uncredited, which means when I was searching for her name in the credits and didn't see it, I assumed Jennifer Jason Leigh was playing that part, but, no, she was playing Allen Ginsberg's mother, and... Man, actresses' roles dry up fast when they hit forty or so, don't they?

The other actor I noticed was the one playing the dean, just because it is pretty hilarious that twenty-five years after the series went off the air, I look at him and immediately think "hey, is that Sledge Hammer?" And, yes, it was David Rasche. I don't know if I was just the right age for that to stick in my mind - I've somehow been able to look at Matt Frewer and not see Max Headroom and Edison Carter, although Frewer has had other noteworthy roles since then. Of course, Rasche may have, but it appears they would have been on stage.

Not much else to say - I chose to see this based on when it started, as I got back from the fancy theater at about the right time, and this was moved into the main theater because that screen was having heating problems, down to 62 degrees. Which, considering my house was also having heating problems and was down to 55, wasn't so bad. Still, I don't advise the "starts at the right time" method of choosing which movie to see. It only rarely ends well.

Kill Your Darlings

* * (out of four)
Seen 9 November 2013 at Landmark Kendall Square #1 (first-run, DCP)

It's probably not a good sign when the cast member of a movie featuring several noteworthy young actors playing real-life people whose names, at least, should be familiar to all in the audience who makes the biggest impression is the guy playing the lead character's father in a handful of scenes. And while that deliberately overstates what a drag Kill Your Darlings turns out to be, it's also not far off-base: There's a heck of a story being told by this movie, but the guys who should be making it great seldom get much of a chance to shine.

It's 1943, and Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) has been accepted to Columbia University. He has inherited a talent for poetry from his father Louis (David Cross), but is already chafing at the formality of it. That draws him to upperclassman Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), who has bounced around various schools before landing in New York; Lucien brings him to a party at the house of David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) where they meet William Burroughs and begin plotting a literary "New Vision" Eventually the group expands to include Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), but by that time it's become clear that while Lucien is a charismatic ringleader, he's got some severe issues, with David at the center of them.

The film opens with someone dying and Allen writing an account of the events that hit too close to home for some, so those issues are rather severe indeed. That flash-forward is over quickly, but that it's there at all seems a mistake - when a movie opens with murder, that just highlights how the next hour of young men talking about how they're going to liberate themselves from the restrictions of meter and formality (aided, of course, by drugs and alcohol) is not particularly interesting to non-English majors, particularly since director John Krokidas and co-writer Austin Bunn don't actually show us why this is such an important step beyond schoolboy pranks. It feels like a long time before the movie circles back around, long enough that some of the most interesting parts of the story get reduced to captions before the credits.

Full review at EFC.

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