Monday, September 17, 2012

A Few Comments on On The Road At TIFF

The world famous (at least all over Toronto) Toronto International Film Festival is on. It's all too much hassle for me even if I can get a glimpse of Bruce Willis's shadow.

In the old days, we used to worry not too much about the movies and tried to crash as many parties as possible and hit the clubs where the great and near great would mingle and get down.

But those days have passed and I'm o

k with a glass of Ovaltine and working on my collection of used bottle caps from around the world.

My better fraction, however, is entirely into it, each year organizing herself to take in a score of movies in about 10 days. (Today she got to sit right behind Dustin Hoffman at a showing of Ben Affleck's Argo.) She'll take me to a couple of them.

So yesterday I took some time off--I've been doing so much of that of late, I forget how to spell baristerre--and went with her to see On The Road, a 2012 treatment by a Brazilian director of Kerouac's novel, the concluding sentence of which never fails to take my breath away:

...So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars'll be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what's going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty...

Anyway, against the grain of a few critical comments I checked out after, I liked it more than I didn't. It dragged some; the guy playing Dean, though compelling and charismatic, didn't get across Dean's manic energy--which needed something like Tom Cruise's frenetic moves at the beginning of Rain Man; the voice and voiceovers of Sal Paradise were dead on and magnetic and Sal's hip equanimity is precisely conveyed; but the look was wrong; Kerouac was all American handsome, with a muscular, athletic build of the football player he was; but Sal of the movie was somehow attenuated in his physicality and had a quiet, bookish and odd sort of good looks, not conveying (at least my) impression of Kerouac's noted all American good looks; and the guy playing Carlos Marx (Allen Ginsberg) was flat trying too hard.

But for all that, and I mean for all that, the movie was continually engrossing even when it dragged some; it conveyed (at least my sense of) the spirit and feel of the novel; and the replication of the times is unerring.

I won't spoil the interesting ending, which if I'm remembering, is a fresh imagining of the novel's ending.

So, again, for me, for this movie, the ayes have it.

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