Howl, On the Road, Kill Your Darlings and just recently the James Broughton doc Big Joy under our belts, some of us may have had enough of the so-called "beat generation." But it would a shame to miss BIG SUR, the under-seen and quickly disappeared movie by Michael Polish about Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg and a fellow new to me named Lew Welch that, in a certain fashion, proves the best of the lot. That fashion is not a popular one, however, so watch this film with the understanding that it is basically a story of words and what writing does to and for Mr. Kerouac.The words are the important thing here -- more so than story, drama, conflict, and most anything else one usually finds in our favorite movies.
Twin Falls Idaho, Jackpot, Northfork, The Astronaut Farmer, among others -- that go their own (and his own) way, audiences be damned or entertained, as the case may be. Here, it seems that Polish wanted to place the words first and foremost and have all else -- especially visuals and performances -- follow from those words. The effect is alternately bracing and a little crazy-making because what's missing here is drama and conflict, though all else is in place.
Josh Lucas, above, right), usually seen as Kerouac's sun, here takes a back seat to our boy. But by now, Neal's bloom may be beginning to fade a bit. Anthony Edwards is aces as Ferlinghetti, and as Welch, the more versatile than you'd imagine Patrick Fischler surprises -- and then some.
Netflix streaming, and on DVD. It is also for sale (though not, it seems, for rental) via Amazon Instant Video.