ARTYFACTS: On The Road – Yep Rock Heresy

Friday, October 19, 2012

On The Road – Yep Rock Heresy

Kerouac wrote On The Road as a single paragraph, on a single roll of paper 120 feet long. That’s why Truman Capote quipped, “That’s not writing, it’s typing”. Salles has taken this literally and produced a journey that’s loyal to Kerouac and the text, and not Hollywood. The critics, by and large, parrot Capote by saying, “That’s not a movie, it’s not dramatic enough”. They’re so right, which is why so many of their reviews are so wrong.
For some of us, Kerouac was a book that made us want to get out on that road, physically and psychologically. I was out of my dull, Scottish, housing scheme, hitching on my own at 16 on the back of this stuff, so I owe these guys. It is what the book is, a scroll, a roll, the rolling road, a journey. It doesn’t hang around for long dialogues or in depth characterisation. It’s episodic, disjointed and absolutely what the book is. It’s like looking back on a long journey through the photographs you took and snatches of memory. The movie is not total recall, it’s fragmented recall.
Don’t go looking for plot structure, a start-middle-end or ‘drama’. The movie is of its time, true to the beat thing with a loose Jazz structure. I may be taking this too far but it’s like watching Jazz musicians improvise, riff and play off each other. There’s an underlying rhythm of the road which refuses to stay still, always moving, but it veers off road and has lots of changes of pace. Sometimes it just surges like the brilliant sax , club piano act and Mexican brothel scenes. My favourite scene in the film is pure Jazz, the brilliant Yep Rock Heresy by Coati Mundi (playing Slim Galliard), “Hey. I’d like to introduce you to my future ex-wife!” Watch the master here. Interestingly, he lived in Brighton for a while. Just watch and listen. Jump in the car, switch on the radio, look out the window and let the film sweep you along. Being loyal to the first person narrative means eschewing all of the Hollywood guff. Just go with the flow. It’s stripped down to the bare essentials, a movie-stream of consciousness. Above all, keep your ears open – the music’s brilliant.
When Sal's got tickets to see Duke Ellington, the beat dies, and Dean sets off. The denouement is the scroll, the roll of paper in the typewriter and the typewriter keys being flung at the white page. It’s the moment the film and the book merge. Made even my walk home in the dark, wet streets of Brighton, exciting.
To the two at The Duke of York’s (work for Arts Council –culled from their annoying conversation) holding up the queue to chat and fart about asking for soya milk in their tea, oblivious to all around, taking ages to order and pay. Get a fucking life.


Post a Comment

<< Home