Kill Your Darlings – LFF Film Review

Kill Your Darlings

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.

BFI London Film Festival 2013

The Harry Potter Retrospective – The Kids (Charts Ahoy!)

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

The Harry Potter Retrospective – The Films

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
philosophers 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
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

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – Review

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

Potter! Potter! Potter! Potter! Potter! Potter! Potter! Potter!

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).

And to finish one last video to get you up to speed as Daniel Radcliffe and co. explain the plot of The Deathly Hallows: Part 1.

To watch this video, you need the latest Flash-Player and active javascript in your browser. Or you need to get out of Google reader and onto the site itself!


Now we just need to watch the damn thing!