Friday, May 3, 2013

Day Five

Big Sur
Based on the novel by Jack Kerouac, I went into this expecting a beautifully photographed story about an alcoholic writer and got exactly what I expected. But not much more, unfortunately. I'm not familiar with the novel, and I suspect that knowledge might help enjoyment of this piece a great deal (the preponderance of voiceovers suggests that the book may be largely internal monolog). The Big Sur shots do a good job of evoking that place's natural beauty, but the SF location shooting was occasionally distracting (in a bad way) for a local: shots of Great Highway along Ocean Beach used to stand in for the 101 in the valley were the most glaring.

I wish I could say more about the substance of the film, but as noted above I didn't find much there. Perhaps I should just read the book.

Pearblossom Highway
Another film featuring San Francisco location shooting, this low-budget work focuses on a troubled young man named Cory (also the name of the actor, whose real life story the character is based upon) living in the desert outside of L.A. His best friend is an unhappy Japanese emigre who moonlights as a prostitute at the local truck stop. When his big brother arrives after a stint in the Marines, Cory's wish to be more a part of a family is rekindled. Their mother is dead, and Cory never met his father, so the three of them set off Northwards to meet him.

Strangely, though this film has even less plot than Big Sur, I found myself more interested in the characters, and that allowed me to put up with the nearly nonexistent narrative and the stilted acting (which, judging by the director's evocation of Godard during the Q&A, was likely intentional). Also, if I'm to compare the two, I'd say that the SF locations (in the Mission and the Sunset) felt more "right".

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