According to director John Krokidas, his feature debut Kill Your Darlings took nearly 11 years to bring to screen. After premiering at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Friday afternoon, the slow cook appears to have only strengthened the film. If Darlings was released a decade earlier, it wouldn't have the impressive roster of Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, and Elizabeth Olsen to bring the vivid story of Allen Ginsberg and the beat poets to life. It's hard to imagine any other ensemble pulling it off.
Even after a string of other performances (including the gothic Woman in Black), the question still lingers whether Radcliffe will evolve past his lightning-scarred former character into a viable leading man. Kill Your Darlings puts the speculation to rest. Embodying the unrestrained Ginsberg in his early years, Radcliffe bears witness to the energy, chaos, love, and harsh truths that flow through the streets of '40s New York. When he's accepted by Columbia University to study poetry, he's exposed to the alternative underbelly of the city, courtesy of the smooth-talking devil on his shoulder, Lucien Carr (DeHaan). Through Carr, Ginsberg is introduced to a rebellious group of writers: the on-again-off-again lover David Kammerer (Hall), the drug connoisseur William Burroughs (Foster), and the star quarterback of the literary squad, Jack Kerouac (Huston). Together, they eventually form "The New Vision," a poetic task force whose sole mission is to destroy lesser works of rigid indecency (that is to say, Ogden Nash is in their crosshairs).
Krokidas takes full advantage of his setting, draping Kill Your Darlings in bold colors and compositions. The director knows when his scenes require a bit of swing — as Ginsberg and Carr delve deeper into the world of anti-establishment poetry, Krokidas' responds with stylish camera work and rhythmic editing. In a scene at the collective's Christopher Street jazz club hangout, Krokidas allows imagination to take hold of his realistic biopic. The effects of nitrous oxide seep in, the surrounding clientele come to a halt, and Carr and Ginsberg float around the room manipulating the frozen scene. When Ginsberg wakes up from his trip, it all makes perfect sense.
But Krokidas also knows when to let the talent do the talking. Radcliffe is a performer who can stay silent, expose the mind of a thinker through the subtlest of reactions. One moment sees the actor wound up by recreational drug use, and Radcliffe rises to the occasion by stripping down, running around a room, and eventually settling at a typewriter to bang out his first poem. DeHaan is his foil, always ready to unleash bravado; his Carr enlivens the world around him, making it easy to see why Ginsberg would have been so taken by him. If Radcliffe's performance puts skeptics to rest, DeHaan's proves he's at the top of Hollywood's young actor's pack. The duo's romantic relationship creates conflict over the course of the entire movie, eventually swelling to a burst of passion. The authenticity of the moment may surprise even the biggest diehard Harry Potter fans.
Kill Your Darlings has a rare vision behind it, and it's clear Radcliffe and DeHaan are in on the plan. The ups and downs never miss a beat, nor do they feel stricken to the form that Hollywood may normally take to bring a story of this nature to life. That feels like a cue from Ginsberg himself — as we see in the film, the poet's early days were filled with school lessons he threw to the wind (and flipped the bird to, naturally). His independent spirit runs through the veins of Darlings, a great Sundance pick that will no doubt find a home before year's end. And we'll still be talking about it then.
[Photo Credit: Benaroya Pictures]
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Dinner for Schmucks is based on a French film but don’t hold that against it. Its similarities to Le Diner de Cons Francis Veber’s 1998 farce about a group of cynical publishing executives who host a weekly “dinner for idiots ” are primarily conceptual. To make it suitable for American audiences director Jay Roach (of Austin Powers and Meet the Parents fame) and screenwriters David Guion and Michael Handelman safely cleansed their big-budget adaptation of any smoking philandering “mean-spiritedness ” or any other icky behavior that might make some of us Yanks uncomfortable. Whew.
Preeminent straight man Paul Rudd (Role Models I Love You Man) plays Tim an ambitious young investment banker on the verge of joining the elite ranks at his firm. But in order to be fully inducted into the executive inner circle he must first participate in a peculiar ritual called the “Dinner for Winners ” a monthly event hosted by his boss Lance (Bruce Greenwood) to which each attendee is charged with bringing a high-functioning dimwit for the rest of the guests to ridicule. More than just a company tradition it’s an opportunity for high-climbers like Tim to prove their mettle in an area crucial to the success of stereotypically cutthroat businessmen: exhibiting callous disregard for those who exist on the fringes of society. Needless to say attendance at the dinner is not optional.
Tim believes he’s found the ideal dinner guest when he literally runs into Barry (Steve Carell) a clumsy bespectacled IRS employee whose great passion in life involves staging elaborate dioramas with taxidermic mice. Several of Barry’s exquisitely strange creations dubbed “mouseterpieces ” are depicted in the film’s opening sequence which proudly nods to the intricate quirk of Wes Anderson. (Its soundtrack even apes his musical tastes playing an obscure song from a legendary rock band: the Beatles’ Fool on the Hill a melancholy little number that cost a paltry $1.5 million to license.)
That’s where the comparisons to Anderson’s work end. As a director Roach’s greatest asset has always been his ability to assemble a group of talented comic actors and hand them the reigns trusting that they’ll produce enough funny material for him to sow together into a relatively cohesive piece. It’s what fueled Roach’s better works like the first Austin Powers flick and it’s ultimately what saves Dinner for Schmucks from falling victim to the director’s less admirable qualities namely a penchant for contrived and predictable situational humor an over-reliance on cheap physical and sight gags and a general disregard for plot and pacing.
Carell has carved a lucrative niche for himself playing charmingly oblivious goofballs of varying levels of competence and he earns every dime of his reported $15 million paycheck in this film. Rudd’s character for all his caustic wit isn’t nearly as manipulative or amoral as his French counterpart; we never truly believe him capable of deliberately humiliating an innocent like Barry even if he does drive a Porsche.
But they labor heroically to make the most of their suboptimal comedic circumstances forming an amiable intermittently hilarious odd-couple dynamic as Tim struggles to contain the chaos wrought by Barry. That combined with the efforts of Jemaine Clement and Zach Galifianakis both sublime in supporting roles are what ultimately what elevate the film above its meagre material. These are guys who could send us into hysterics reading a grocery list which in this case would constitute an upgrade over the Dinner for Schmucks screenplay.
The movie hunk donned a bright orange costume to become Lance Rock from hit U.S. show Yo Gabba Gabba!, while partner Jolie smothered her face in fake blood and streaked her hair grey.
They were accompanying three of their children - Maddox, Zahara and Shiloh - on a trip around their Hollywood neighbourhood on Saturday night (31Oct09) for the annual festivities.
And the eldest two children seemed to be channelling their mum's most famous character, Lara Croft, with superhero costumes - Maddox was clad in camouflage as G.I. Joe, while Zahara dressed as Batman.
Meanwhile in the city, Heidi Klum showed off her stunning figure in fishnet tights and thigh high boots at her annual Halloween party - just three weeks after giving birth.
The supermodel welcomed little Lou earlier this month (09Oct09), but donned a feathered bird outfit to mark her 10th ghoulish bash in Los Angeles, which was attended by a host of A-Listers including her husband Seal, Jessica Alba, Kelly Osbourne, Paris Hilton and Eliza Dushku.
In the ever-changing west of 1882 city marshal Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and his deputy Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) are two tough dudes out to clean up lawless towns a mission that takes them to Appaloosa. This small mining town has been taken over by a ruthless power-hungry land baron Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) who along with his band of thugs has run the place into the ground. Although their initial efforts are met with some success Cole and Hitch run into personal and professional conflict when a pretty mystery lady Allison French (Renee Zellweger) blows into town. She complicates the picture walking on the gray line between good and evil and generally making the Marshal and his No. 2 overcome unwelcome obstacles in their fight to bring Bragg and his boys to justice. The film based on the novel by Robert B. Parker smartly details the unique problems inherent in bringing law and order to an unruly West. Guiding his co-star Marcia Gay Harden in 2000’s Pollock to an Oscar Harris the director once again shows he has a natural affinity for steering his fellow actors at least most of them into superlative performances which includes himself. In fact the actor doesn’t seem to be the least intimidated in playing the leading role in a movie he also co-wrote directed and produced. Harris comes off as the embodiment of a dedicated lawman who quietly goes about his business determined to clean up the wild wild West his way with the help of a loyal deputy. Mortensen is wonderfully authentic as Harris’ partner in stopping sagebrush crime looking like he’s lived in those boots his entire life. Mortensen’s demeanor and style in the role of Everett Hitch evokes a true feel for a place and time long gone. Together these two do not seem fake or awkwardly contemporary but instead come off as the real deal. Irons is slippery and fun to watch as the devious outlaw Bragg proving as he did in his Oscar-winning Reversal of Fortune there’s nobody as good at playing subtle shades of bad. Zellweger on the other hand lets her acting show at every turn. To be fair her character rarely adds up but she does nothing to give any dimension beyond the obvious to a woman courting both sides of the law. In only his second outing behind the camera in a decade Harris shows Pollock was no fluke. Clearly enamored with the era he nobly honors the great American western tradition crafting a film that fits in with some of the best examples Hollywood has turned out. Some may complain that Appaloosa is long on talk and short on action but the time director Harris devotes to letting his characters develop is far more satisfying than a lot of pointless violence that many Westerns wallow in. Like Howard Hawks’ 1959 classic Rio Bravo this is an honest tale of the camaraderie between a pair of lawmen simply trying to do a job. This is a director whose emphasis is focused on his cast and he’s picked them very carefully right down to the smallest roles surrounding himself with a lot of terrific character actors. Just as impressive are the top notch production values including cinematographer Dean Semler’s stunning New Mexico landscapes.
Once respected NYPD detective Jack Mosley (Bruce Willis) is now pretty much on his last legs literally and figuratively. He drinks is relegated to a desk job and walks with a limp. One morning after a long shift he’s corralled into transporting a petty criminal Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) to the courthouse 16 blocks away so he can testify by 10:00 a.m. What Jack doesn’t know is that Eddie is one of the key witnesses in a case against crooked cops--that is until the two start getting shot at. Then it becomes crystal clear. The main bad guy Jack’s former partner Frank (David Morse) basically lets Jack know Eddie will never testify to just go ahead and hand him over but Frank underestimates Jack’s desire to finally do something good. So Jack and Eddie fight their way to the courthouse block by gut-wrenching block. Oh no there’s nothing formulaic about 16 Blocks not at all. In a film as predictable as this the only thing that’ll make it stand out is the performances. 16 Blocks nearly succeeds--but not quite. It would seem Willis is playing a character he’s played a hundred times before--the misunderstood and slightly unorthodox cop with a heart of gold. But as Jack the actor does a nice job trying out some new things namely playing fat bald and grizzled. You can almost smell how bad Jack’s breath has to be. Rapper/actor Mos Def who usually brightens any film he’s in also tries his hand at something different but his choices aren’t as smart. As the talkative and affable Eddie Mos comes up with one of the more annoying nasally accents ever recorded. After about five minutes of screen time you desperately want him to stop and say “Just kidding! I don’t really talk like this.” But he doesn’t. It’s too bad something like an accent can ruin an otherwise decent performance. Old-school director Richard Donner best known for his Lethal Weapons is a consummate professional when it comes to making these kind of movies. In other words he pretty much paints by numbers. We watch Jack and Eddie get out of one tight situation after another as the gaggle of bad cops try to gun them down. I mean 16 blocks doesn’t seem that far to go so they better throw in as many highly implausible obstacles as they can. Chinese laundries alleyways rooftops subways. And yes even a city bus which the pair--who have by now bonded big time--has to hijack. Donner also employs a popular but nonetheless annoying technique of zooming in when the action heats up so you can’t really see what’s going on. Even if you’re addicted to action movies--a Bruce Willis action movie no less--16 Blocks just doesn’t deliver the goods.