As I am sure you will know, Kerouac’s 1951 classic, On the Road is now ‘in the can’… hopefully it makes its way to our shores this coming summer. I am particularly excited about seeing Sam Riley’s portrayal of Sal Paradise (Kerouac) and Viggo Mortensen’s take on Old Bull Lee (Burroughs). They are two actors, who rarely miss for me, so I am hoping they really capture the frenetic, freewheeling spirit of Jack & Bill. I am not as familiar with the work of Garrett Hedlund, but let’s hope he brings the necessary energy to make Dean Moriarty (Cassady) crackle on screen. If you haven’t already seen it, here’s the trailer:
And just as exciting, is the release of two new Beat Documentaries, Beat Hotel and The Poetry Deal: a film with Diane di Prima.
Beat Hotel takes a look at the heady days of the Beats in Paris (1957 – 63); when Ginsberg, Orlovsky & Corso fled the aftermath of the Howl obscenity trial and holed up at 9 Rue Git le Couer where they were joined by the likes of William S. Burroughs, Ian Sommerville, Brion Gysin & Harold Norse. In this no-name hotel, dubbed Beat Hotel, Burroughs would complete his revolutionary book, Naked Lunch, Corso would write some of his greatest poems and Sommerville & Gysin would invent the Dream Machine. It was an experimental sanctuary, where outcasts, oddballs and misfits were welcomed. Here’s the trailer:
And The Poetry Deal, looks at the life of one of the Beat era’s revolutionary women, Diane di Prima. You only need to dip into Memoirs of a Beatnik to know that di Prima, lived as wild as any of the men; her explosive texts bursting with a spirit of rebellion. The film features many intimate interviews with di Prima and is ‘lyrical and energetic’ in its exploration of her life.
The Brisbane International Film Festival program has now been released and it features two of the films I have been hotly anticipating for some time.
Howl, starring James Franco as Allen Ginsberg, which has been receiving rave reviews worldwide and William S. Burroughs: A Man Within, a feature length documentary featuring never before seen footage of Burroughs and interviews with Laurie Anderson, John Waters, David Cronenberg, Amiri Baraka, Anne Waldman, Diane DiPrima and a soundtrack by Patti Smith and Sonci Youth.
Definitely two great reasons to get along to this year’s festival… sadly, I will be away for the duration of the festival, so if like me, you can’t get along and catch these films, here’s a treat for you…
I recently came across the film Wholly Communion, Peter Whitehead’s documentary of the legendary Beat reading at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1965. It was described as an evening of near-hallucinatory revelry and featured readings by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Alexander Trocchi, Adrian Mitchell & many others.
Here are the links to watch (the majority of) the film, so get yourself comfortable (drinks, nibbles, whatever takes you…) and take in a slice of literary history!
Letter writing is defintely a fading art… I know, I know, email is ‘like’ letter writing, but from my perspective, it doesn’t even come close. Finding the right pen, or pulling out the trusty typewriter; getting a few crisp sheets of paper; sitting down with your thoughts and really connecting with someone, wherever they may be… these are just some of the intense pleasures of writing a letter.
Two men who knew a great deal of these pleasures were Kerouac & Ginsberg and thankfully for us, 200 of their leters have been gathered together in a sweet little tome by Bill Morgan and David Stanford.
As Michael Miller wrote in the New York Observer, “the collection reads like a Dostoyevsky novel: It begins with a murder and ends, essentially, with a suicide (Kerouac’s death from cirrhosis of the liver in 1969). The authors are wild and unguarded, real-life protagonists that never quite made it into the Beat literature: Kerouac, stubborn, paranoid, hot-tempered, but in love with every person he meets; Ginsberg, the horny kid prone to hallucinations and consumed by poetry.”
Definitely a must have for this Lost Shark’s shelves.
And if like me you are kicking back enjoying the Sunday morning sun, you might just like to take in a bit of Kerouac & Ginsberg. So, for all you Allen lovers here’s a link to a short film (around an hour) – Allen’s Last Three Days on Earth as Spirit, a video diary of Ginsberg in the days immediately before and after his death by Jonas Mekas. And thanks to the good people at Ubuweb, on the same page there is also a great interview with Ginsberg from 1995 with Jeremy Isaacs.
And for the Jack lovers, why not kick back and listen to Clark Coolidge and Michael Gizzi read from Old Angel Midnight.
Or like me… why not take it all in.
For film buffs and lovers of Beat Culture, this release of legendary American independent filmmaker, Alfred Leslie’s work is long overdue. I was first switched on to Leslie’s work, through the Kerouac narrated, Pull My Daisy, which features Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky. Pull My Daisy is a ramshackled retelling of an incident in the lives of Neal and Carolyn Cassady, and charts the weirdness that ensues when a Bishop is invited over for dinner, crashed by a bunch of bohemians. The film captures the heady Beat life and has the same improvised feel that much of the great literature from this time embraced.
If you haven’t seen it, here’s a few links to the making of the film (interviews with David Amram & Alfred Leslie) including excerpts from the original.
Pull My Daisy pt. 1
Pull My Daisy pt. 2
Pull My Daisy pt. 3
Alongside Pull My Daisy this release also features, Birth of a Nation, A Stranger Calls at Midnight and Leslie’s visionary collaboration with Frank O’Hara, The Last Clean Shirt. Olivier Brossard has written a stunning essay (published in Jacket) on The Last Clean Shirt that is well worth the read.
The final film included as part of the release is USA: Poetry – Frank O’Hara. USA Poetry was a 12-part series produced in 1965-66, showcasing the works of Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Philip Whalen, Ed Sanders and many others. You can view clips from Frank O’Hara’s segment of the release on his website.
And if that’s not quite enough to peak your interest, head on over to Alfred Leslie’s homepage where you can read his textual exploration of Cool Man in a Golden Age.
Painter, Filmmaker, Photographer, Writer… most definitely a Cool Man in any age.