On the Road

If I may, let me give you an umbrella suggestion… Either read a book or see a movie. Never see a movie of a book, and never read a book of a movie. It will never work out, its doomed. On the Road (as you probably know) is a 1950’s book by famed beat generation writer Jack Kerouac. In On the Road Kerouac captures the idea of what it must’ve felt like to live in America in the 40’s and 50’s. In the book, Kerouac outlines his time traveling all over the USA in search of a journey. The book, at times feels like an homage to the soul, and at other times feel tragically hip. This observation is from a modern vantage point. Reading this book in 1960, it probably felt like a transmission straight from the vein of the times, a thump of a pulse which might have felt fresh. Reading this book today would feel more melancholic and hungry for the days before over-nostalgia. Were things ever pure? I can’t say for sure, but in this book you come to the idea that Kerouac is experiencing (if only briefly) a real self-aware existence. I enjoy the vernacular in the book and find it pretty entertaining to see words like “dig” used in a pre 1970’s- hippy manner. If you asked me the theme of On the Road (book) I would say freedom.

As you may or may not know (or care) On the Road was made into a movie recently. Naturally, I saw this film. I was curious to see how it would be treated, which aspects would be left out and replaced with indy-film flair. “Independent” films can sometimes be overly preoccupied with credibility, or the idea of staying weird at all costs. This sentiment feels a little bit like the hollywood over-the-top feel that (as a viewer) I look to avoid (at times). This film’s ringer is that it features Kristen Stewart as a supporting actress. When I say “ringer” I mean downfall. I’m not a big Stewart fan (Sorry Vampire movie people) and her range of emotion seems to suck the life out of so many scenes. On the Road (film) was basically a misrepresentation of the book… a travesty. Kristen Stewart plays the role of Marylou and is the love interest of… everyone (she kisses or has some sexual encounter with just about everybody in the film…or at least it feels that way). Marylou is a small character in the book, serving more as the muse of Dean Moriarty than an attention seeking Dean-worshiper in slight competition with Sal. Without getting into the whole book and all the ways the film misrepresented it I will just say don’t be afraid to go see this movie, just understand that it shares only a few things with the book. Authenticity is not one. This is not an art piece, and certainly not a big thinker. It feels like a couple of guys thought they could cash in on the of-the-times uber-nostalgic culture. Don’t go to this movie looking to hear some great dialogue, or to see some amazing Americana scenery. This movie is preoccupied with injecting sexual exploitation into every frame in this film (in a bad way). Go see it for yourself, and then after you come to terms with the waste of your money… go read On the Road.

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