After much buzz on the festival circuit, including Sundance, Venice, Toronto, to name a few, Kill Your Darlings opens the Hamptons International Film Festival tonight.
Before there was Neal Cassady to whom the writer Jack Kerouac was in thrall, there was Lucien Carr. A St. Louis friend of William Burroughs, Carr was a fast and scary driver, catalyst for acts of rebellion, and key player in perhaps the first bit of beat scandal, the murder of Dave Kammerer, his former boy scout leader and stalker, with a boy scout knife. "Kill" co-screenwriters, director John Krokidas and Austin Bunn, play fast and loose with beat lore, favoring a point of view from Allen Ginsberg's journals, fashioning a gay coming of age tale featuring a deflowering when they could have sought out the more fully formed fictions in Kerouac's ample telling and retelling. They clearly wanted to tell a gay story, and in skewing events this way, describing a period when heterosexual yearnings too had a subversive edge, they come closer to a beat vibe than any other movie fictionalization thus far. They even make leering Dave Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) seem sympathetic.
At last week's New York premiere at the new Tao at the Maritime Hotel, Daniel Radcliffe worked the room exuding frenetic momentum when a reporter praised his performance: "Do you really mean it? That means a lot. If I even got him just a little bit . . . " Having known Allen Ginsberg, I emphasized how much the Howl poet would have enjoyed Radcliffe's nude scenes and awakening sexuality. But something else was awry: signs on the Tao bar offered drinks, only one named: The Kerouac, consisting of tequila, 'housemade" hibiscus syrup, fresh squeezed lemon & lime. Had they done their homework, they would know the On the Road author would have preferred tokay to a cocktail.
Who knows what drinks they will be serving at East Hampton Point, for the opening night mega-fete! The beats may be in heaven, enjoying the fine work of world- class actors: Ben Foster, Jack Huston, Dane DeHaan, as well as Radcliffe, and toasting the on-going revision of their myth.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.