Sometimes you can’t ‘Kill Your Darlings’

At one point in “Kill Your Darlings” — director John Krokidas’ first feature-length film — Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) points at Columbia University’s “hall of fame,” filled with team photos, graduations and ribbon cuttings of “souvenir history. To make people think they left some mark on the world because otherwise nobody would ever know.”

“I don’t ever want to end up on this wall,” says Carr.

But despite his mostly private post-collegiate life, Carr has his place in “souvenir history.”

Some events from his life were immortalized in a series of semi-biographical fictional works from his more famous Beat Generation friends — Jack Kerouac’s first and last novels, “The Town and the City” and “Vanity of Duluoz”; Kerouac and William Burroughs’ “And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks”; and Allen Ginsberg’s “The Bloodsong,” published journal entries based on events between 1943 and ’44.

Krokidas and his former Yale University roommate Austin Bunn wrote their version of the events into the screenplay “Kill Your Darlings,” which centers around the death of David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), a former English professor who obsessively stalked young Carr.

The events are filtered through the lens of 17-year-old Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), who befriends his classmate Carr at Columbia University — where they discuss Whitman, Yeats and Rimbaud over a bottle of Chianti.

Later joined by Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Kerouac (Jack Houston), Ginsberg and Carr plan a literary revolution — to change the old order of rhyme, meter and form. But they can’t get away from the past. “[The past] becomes part of who you are,” says Ginsberg. “Or [it] destroys you,” says Carr.

“Kill Your Darlings” is fascinating because of the larger-than-life personalities captured on the silver screen. But despite his fame as the “boy who lived,” Radcliffe takes a backseat to DeHaan’s mysteriously alluring and seductive performance as the flamboyant Adonis Lucien Carr.

“Holy Lucien,” writes Ginsberg in “Howl and Other Poems,” was one of the “best minds…destroyed by madness.” That greatness, though, makes Carr Jay Gatsby to Ginsberg’s Nick Carraway. And while their lives intersected for only a moment, F. Scott Fitzgerald taught us that sometimes “boats beating against the current are borne ceaselessly into the past.”

“Kill Your Darlings” was directed by John Krokidas and written by Krokidas and Austin Bunn.


From Harry to Haunted: Daniel Radcliffe stars in ‘The Woman in Black’

The trick to making a good horror film is to tease the audience — show the elongated shadows on the walls, play the creaks and moans in the woodwork. Fill in a creepy soundtrack; sudden jarring noises; a stupid but lovable and brave hero or heroine and the imagination will fill in the rest.

This is why director James Watkins’ new film “The Woman in Black” works. Based on Susan Hill’s 1983 novel, “The Woman in Black” follows single father Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), a young, widowed lawyer who lost his wife (Sophie Stuckey) in childbirth four years ago. Kipps’ job sends him from London to Crythin Gifford to settle the paperwork of the late Dablow family of Eel Marsh House, when he discovers the secret behind the mysterious woman in black (Liz White).

Like any true Gryffindor, the Harry Potter star tries to overcomes his legacy as the boy-who-lived by confronting new ghosts head-on. Radcliffe looks vulnerable and sometimes child-like while wandering alone in the dark, dwarfed by the sinister crevices of the Eel Marsh House. Radcliffe’s big blue eyes and past tenure as the lovable Harry Potter adds to the audience’s sympathy when his character approaches a long darkened corridor or greets violent thumping noises behind closed doors.

But his tender scenes with his adorable, real-life godson, Misha Handley, who plays Radcliffe’s four-year-old son, Joseph Kipps, separates him from his wizard, silver screen counterpart. The scenes between Radcliffe and Handley are endearing and genuine, such as when Joseph presents Arthur with stick-figure drawings of the two (Radcliffe’s stick figure sports a prominent frown). While the film does play up the father/son relationship at times by reminding Radcliffe that he has a son to go home to and featuring the pale faces of other little girls and boys, the acting is believable, taking the film beyond the average cheap horror film and making it more comparable to Juan Antonio Bayona’s 2007 Spanish mystery thriller “The Orphanage” — a film which also features beautiful outdoor scenery, elaborate spooky interior house décor and children.

“The Woman in Black” shows how palpable death is among both the young and old — lingering in cobwebs, gravestones, shadows and the pale faces of the children and superstitious townspeople of Crythin Gifford. The new adaption of “The Woman in Black” is designed to keep you tense in your seats and your children close.

Closing a chapter: A last look at Potter midnight madness

It all began more than a decade and a half ago when J.K. Rowling penned and released “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” scribbling the blueprints on napkins in cafes. Then 10 years ago, the first book, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” made it on the silver screen, and every boy and girl Muggle grew up knowing the name of Daniel Radcliffe — whose name became synonymous with his silver-screen persona, “the-boy-who-lived.”

Outside The Elephant House in Edinburgh, U.K

As a kid who grew up with Potter and Rowling’s books, I looked forward to spending sticky, humid summers with the Dursleys, if only to read about and return to Hogwarts and that world of magic and wizardry. Yet years of waiting for book releases and midnight movie showings — seven books and eight movies later — that wait if finally over and many fans like me are closing a chapter to their childhoods.After watching director David Yate’s second film installment of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” at midnight with millions of fans across the country and around world last night, one realizes the love and investment one truly has for these actors and characters. This includes shedding tears for Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) and his pensive memories, cheering for Neville Longbottom’s stance (Matthew Lewis) and the Hogwarts professors’ stronghold, appreciating Luna Lovegood’s quirkiness (Evanna Lynch), sympathizing with Lucius (Jason Issacs), Narcissius (Helen McCrory) and Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) and cringing every time a favorite character died as a casualty of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and Harry Potter’s final face-off.

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” takes off from where the film’s November release ended and is truly J.K. Rowling’s end game, winning the love and hearts of many dedicated fans dressed in black graduation gowns, round-framed glasses and diagonally striped green, red, yellow or blue ties — a modern Muggle’s wizarding wardrobe. Watching the death toll of characters as well as how seamlessly clues and puzzle pieces fit together, one comes to realize that Rowling is as sneaky as a Slytherin, as witty as a Ravenclaw, as kind a Hufflepuff and as brave as a Gryffindor. For her to share her gift of storytelling with the world is a real treasure — and just like how Potter and the gang parted with their offspring in the epilogue at King’s Cross and Platform 9 and 3/4 19 years later — it’s a treasure that fans and their offspring will enjoy for years to come in books, movies and Pottermore.

Click here for a related post on Part 1 of the “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” adventure.

Revisiting the magic: A look at Potter madness at midnight

I haven’t visited Hogwarts, Platform 9 and 3/4 or the world of witches and wizards in over three years — the last time being when I read the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows shortly after it was released. Yet 24 hours ago, I was at Regal Cinema, waiting in line with true Harry Potter fans. Awaiting for the doors to open and the cl0cks to strike midnight was magical unto itself.

Members of the Harry Potter Alliance at Ithaca College pose for a picture as they await in line for the midnight screening of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

It was exciting to see that everyone had made a trip to Diagon Alley, and picked up their wands from Ollivanders before the gathering — which can been likened to when masses gathered for the Quidditch World Cup. It was amusing to see all the Weasleys roaming around the movie theater, each with their lumpy mismatched sweaters, which had to have been hand-knit by Molly Weasley and complete with giant initials of their names. Even more entertaining were a pair of Weasley twins (two girls sporting flaming red wigs and wizarding cloaks dressed as Fred and George, or rather “Gred” and “Forge”; one of them with a bandage on her ear) — their light-hearted jokes and banter with each other in the hallways would have cost them detentions with Dolores Umbridge, especially for disturbing the peace at the movie theater.

Yet as much as we, Muggles, may wish that we were witches and wizards — and that they simply ‘forgot’ to send us an owl with an acceptance letter to Hogwarts when we turned 11 years old, we had the pleasure to pick up a handful of Floo powder and transport into the wizarding world by watching the first installment of director David Yate’s film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and seeing author J.K. Rowling’s vision on the silver screen.

The movie, which deals with the final battle between He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (Ralph Finnes) and “the boy who lived” (Daniel Radcliffe), was dark and grim, but a good number of “holy” ear jokes and sexual frustration sets a satisfying balance and tone amidst a wizarding war.  When needed, Weasley brothers are a reliable source of comic relief — whether it is Fred (James Phelps) and George (Oliver Phelps) with their antics, or Ron (Rupert Grint) with his comments. Yates does an excellent job in splicing everything together, so that the movie experience does not feel like a bunch of dementors just got out of the Azkaban prison.

Yet the film paints the full, gritty context for war, showcasing sacrifice and valor. In the first sequence, as one is introduced to Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), one also realizes that she must make her parents forget that she has ever existed in order to protect them. In another scene, Ron is lounging by the radio, anxiously listening to hear if any of his family’s names are called. Harry can be seen playing with a tw0-way mirror from his godfather — persistently believing that Sirius Black is alive behind the veil. And to think — the trio are just kids, skipping school to go on a wild horcrux hunt — puts the whole senario into context.

Despite the grave situation, the heart of the books and movies is friendship. Yet the Harry-Ron-Hermione trio is off-center. Perhaps actor Tom Felton, who plays wizard and death eater Draco Malfoy, describes it best in an interview with MTV: “This whole perfect friendship thing kind of goes out the window a bit.”

However, loyalties — however shaken that the might be — do play a big part in the battle of good versus evil. As for screeplay writer Steve Kloves’s and director Yate’s loyalties to Potter fans, the most disappointing part of the movie is when the movie stops with a lack of end credits.

Just like fans would wait in bookstores with excitement, speeding through Rowling’s words when the book came out, fans will wait excitedly for July 15, 2011 — for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 — and to return to Hogwarts, Platform 9 and 3/4 and the wizarding world.