I think I had the wrong idea about Kill Your Darlings when I decided to trundle along and see it. What I knew was that Daniel Radcliffe would be starring as a young Allen Ginsberg who starts his university career and meets the likes of Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. With this brief synopsis cluttering up my brain I was expecting to see the formation of the Beat generation unfold onscreen and what I got was something a little less defined.
At university Ginsberg becomes enamoured with fellow student Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) who goes on to introduce him to Kerouac (Jack Huston) and Burroughs (Ben Foster) and it is Carr who suggests starting a literary revolution. For part of the film the idea of the revolution seems to be the focus but it always sits on the periphery in contrast to Ginsberg’s determined pursuit of Carr despite dismissive treatment in favour of Carr’s much older lover/stalker David (Michael C. Hall). The film seems to want to imply that everyone will go on to change the face of American literature but doesn’t want to get bogged down in showing that happen when there’s drug taking, sex, and murder to be amusing ourselves with. Yes, one of the characters another and the whole film suddenly doesn’t find the drug taking and casual harassment nearly as fun as it did before.
For me the films lacks focus and a proper plot. The performances are all fine and Radcliffe does good work as Ginsberg, despite him being writing a little too pathetic to be able to carry the film, but the writing forces every performance to fall short of believability. The major trouble lies in the fact that on the one hand we are supposed to be revelling in a period piece where poetry can be seen as a form of rebellion and drug taking and child abuse as decadent indulgences, and on the other hand we have the grim dramatics of the murder and Ginsberg’s mother’s psychological issues which pop up from time to time. Nothing like murder and potential paedophilia to ruin a party.
This was no doubt quite a dramatic period in the lives of the men who would define the Beat generation but perhaps the story could have been moulded a little more to form a clearer narrative. At the end of the screening I wasn’t too sure what to think. I had enjoyed the performances and various scenes in the film but didn’t know what it wanted me to take away from it. At no point in the film did I get a sense of the legacy that these men left on the world of writing and I didn’t get any incentive to devour their collective works.
What I saw was a group of self-indulgent individuals who were finally forced to deal with the real world when one is arrested for the murder of another. I’m certain this doesn’t do justice to the combined efforts of Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Burroughs and is unlikely to have been the intention of the filmmakers.
Not awful, and a worthy debut from Austin Bunn and John Krokidas, but Kill Your Darlings meanders a little too much to impress.
Kill Your Darlings is in UK cinemas on 6th December 2013.
Over the course of the eight Harry Potter films a group of young actors went from amateurs to movie stars, but are they any good? We’ve updated our charts to give you our opinion on who was the best actor and who should give up now.
After each of the eight films we scored Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Tom Felton out of ten for their acting ability, the results can be seen below.
As you can see film seven was the moment when each of the main three had equal acting skills, but from there they each went in a different direction in the final film.
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Daniel Radcliffe certainly looks like the perfect Harry Potter, it’s just a shame that when the films started he was the worst actor of a weak bunch. As with the rest of the kids Radcliffe learnt on the job and gradually got better up until the fourth film where he was required to lose control of his emotions. Anger and sadness at the death of a friend and the rise of an enemy were not within Radcliffe’s range and he dropped back down. From then he slowly recovered while gaining comedy chops in Half Blood Prince and then proper dramatic muscle in Deathly Hallows Part 1.
After the impressive display in Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Part 2 was a step in the wrong direction as his performance became patchy again. When required to be sincere or earnest Radcliffe falls short, and a final showdown against evil is not a relaxed occasion. Regardless, Daniel Radcliffe has come a long way since 2001 and it will be interesting to see him play a different character. We’ll be watching him closely with Excel at the ready. Continue reading →
You may remember that last month we spent two nights at the BFI IMAX watching all seven Harry Potter films over the course of two nights. (Thanks BFI IMAX!) We finished our journey through the franchise on Monday night as we watched and scored Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. What follows is a run down of all eight films, written using the increasingly brief and incoherent notes we made at the time. Spoilers lie ahead.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
In which Harry Potter learns he is a wizard, goes to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and defeats a teacher harbouring the evil wizard Voldemort at the back of his head.
We start the franchise with an over-long film with terrible acting, odd prosthetics and scenes bordering on pantomime. From the initial scenes with the Dursleys playing out as a knockabout comedy to the final showdown in which a man completely disintegrates, Christopher Columbus produced a completely uneven film which relies mostly on reaction shots for laughs. Horrible acting from the kids is made up for by sheer cuteness and ultimately the film is a bit better than you remember. 6/10
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The series continues with Harry hearing voices and writing in a diary which writes back. Turns out that pesky diary was Voldemort again.
As the kids seem to have experienced a growth spurt since the previous film they are less cute and their acting has improved slightly to compensate. Early scenes at the Burrows with the Weasley parents are great but even Julie Walters can’t make exposition work properly. Jason Isaacs and Kenneth Branagh are pretty awesome but Christopher Columbus again fails to make anything remarkable happen. With students being attacked (but surviving) the series begins its journey into becoming “dark”. 6.5/10 Continue reading →
For the past three hours I have actively avoided writing this review, struggling to stay objective and discuss the film as if it were any other. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 could have been just another children’s fantasy adventure, yet another sequel and an adaptation of a previous work, but subjective sentiment and a decade of fandom aside, this is one hell of a film. Continue reading →
Are you ready? 10 years since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone arrived in cinemas, and 14 years since the first book was published, the final film of a record-breaking and cast-retaining franchise is finally on release. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 has gradually become more than just another film, it now symbolises a huge achievement in British film-making and a symbolic end to so many people’s childhoods. We grew up with the boy wizard and his last stand is a final hurrah for a childhood friend.
But enough of this sentimentality! We can save all that for next week, now is the time for excitement, just look at that header. We still need to make sure you are fully prepared for the final film, we don’t want anybody saying they didn’t like the film because they couldn’t remember what was going on. Your first port of call is our superb retrospective of the series so far (with charts!) and the two videos we offered up as vital Potter prep, explaining where we left off and exactly what a horcrux is.
For any doubters we have a glowing review from Mark Kermode (whose Radio 5 live show is not on this week due to industrial action).
What follows is the result of sleep deprivation, a Thermos of coffee and a pile of scrawled notes.
EDIT: Updated versions of the charts below can be found in our new retrospective posts on the seven films and the young actors.
On Saturday night Mild Concern returned to the BFI IMAX to finish the Harry Potter All-Nighter marathon. To keep ourselves stimulated and, at a more basic level, awake, we discussed each film in between, scoring various aspects, making notes and even counting one specific phrase. In this post we’ll have a look at some of what we noted down, what this says about the franchise’s progression and what it can tell us about the final film. Once that final film is out we will review it alone and then all eight as a whole, as our final word on the franchise we grew up with.
But first, let’s talk about the IMAX. Our two recent trips have been great, the image is crisp and clear and so wide my peripheral vision was fully taken up with the world of Potter. Films were made to be seen on the big screen and this is the biggest screen in the UK, what more can we say?
Still, there were two drawbacks. The minor one was some distracting disco lights at the bottom of the screen during Order of the Phoenix. The second, more important, factor was a sequence in 3D in two of the films. The 3D worked in a few shots but for the majority of the time it gave us both double vision, caused one of us headaches and made the action scenes extremely hard to follow. Thankfully most of the films are made entirely in 2D, but the upcoming Deathly Hallows Part 2 is another matter.
We’ve already given Deathly Hallows Part 1 the dubious title of Top of the Potters in our review last year so we’ll skip the bit where we go on about how good the film is, though it really is, and focus on the extras.
The Blu-ray and DVD have the same extras with one exception, the so-called “Maximum Movie Mode” which I had to abandon early on. With Maximum Movie Mode turned out you have the movie repeatedly interrupted with the cast present various extra features, these include deleted scenes, clips from earlier films, behind the scenes footage, random trivia and at one point Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) reading out part of the book. I prefer not to have the film interrupted and was disappointed to not be able to watch all the extra bits separately, although some were elsewhere on the disc. I tried to skip through the film but gave up after some inane trivia and Felton’s first reading. This particular special feature forgot to make its features special.
The rest of the features are more interesting and aren’t limited to just the Blu-ray. Deleted scenes are mostly quiet emotional scenes which flesh out the Hermione/Ron romance and give more closure to the Dursleys. You can see why they were cut from the already slow film but as a Potter fan they were great to see.
The behind the scenes featurettes avoid traditional talking heads extras, instead going into details about certain scenes while still leaving film nerds wanting more. Still, you can’t expect too many in-depth documentaries on the DVD for a children’s film, can you? The only extra outside Maximum Movie Mode that I had to abandon was a 20+ minute long clip following some of the cast playing golf and talking about how good friends they are, great for fans of the Weasleys perhaps.
If you’re the sort of person that buys Harry Potter DVDs then there’s no reason not to buy this on DVD or Blu-ray, though only opt for the Blu-ray for the high-definition as Maximum Movie Mode isn’t worth the extra money. You can also get a box-set of the first seven films, but with one left to go that would be a pretty stupid thing to do.
The DVD/Blu-ray is out today and Part 2 hits the silver screen on July 7th 2011.
I’m not someone who holds Alfonso Cuarón’s Potter film as the best of the series, those early films were all pretty terrible. The plots were mangled and cut down and the three leads simply couldn’t act. Luckily each film is better than the last and the latest is easily the best.
By splitting the film into two they have the time to really tell the book’s story, including all the slow bits that make it so much more than just a fun adventure film for kids.
With Potter and friends away from Hogwarts the story rests on the three actors shoulders more than ever before and Radcliffe, Watson and Grint have all come on leaps and bounds. Emma Watson no longer overuses her eyebrows, Daniel Radcliffe can show all kinds of emotions and Rupert Grint doesn’t just do comedy reactions any more.
David Yates has done a great job and I only wish he had directed the first four films and they the benefit of knowing how the series was going to end when the first was written. It’s also a shame that the main actors learnt to act while filming a major movie franchise.
Probably not a film for non-Potter fans but I really enjoyed it, and it has the best animated sequence I’ve seen in a long time. Bring on July.