On The Road
Walter Salles, director, 2012
John: This is a hard one because I am so attached to the book and to the times (a friend and I hitch hiked to California in the sixties after finishing college). For anyone who lived back then, this is more than a movie we watch, it is one we in which we participate. Or should I say our memories do.
Spanky: The casting is excellent as is the historic recreation, but there doesn’t seem to really be a plot—other than drugs, nudity, writing, sex, discussion and more writing. Sorry I missed the “sixties”, John, but I’ve got this pointless travelogue instead.
John: There was an optimism out there then, feeling that everything belonged to everybody. We were searching for meaning and some of us found it like we have never felt since. But it would be hard to convey that to someone who didn’t live it. Kerouac’s book still does. At least for me. And the movie reminds me of the book.
Spanky: I was glad your wife wasn’t with us. Most women would be hung up on the subservience of women back then. The challenge is for a movie like this to have the impact of the past and somehow convey its equivalent for today’s audiences. That last just didn’t happen for me.
John: I think it does. I agree the movie seems plot less, but toward the end there is a longing for life to be open ended, as exemplified by Dean Moriarity and his father. I liked it that there was a genuine affection among the men, and for writing. That there was a possibility of expressing what couldn’t be expressed. Jack Kerouac does that. And I thought the movie did it too. For the right audience, I give it Go, Go, Go (3 Go’s out of 4).
Spanky: Two Barks for a good try from me. Bark, Bark (2 Barks out of 4). “On the road?,” I’d rather stay home.