What Happened to Kerouac? (1986)
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A slightly unfocused documentary, but as a fan of the subject, I found it appealing anyway. There are great moments in some of the archive footage and interviews.
I've been all hot for documentaries lately so I really wanted to check this one out, being as it focused on Jack Kerouac, a favourite writer of mine and a leader of the storied Beat generation in America during the 40s and 50s. The film alternates between interviews with the people (mostly other writers of the same generation) who knew him best including Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and William S. Burroughs, it also operates with still photographs and some film footage, and (thankfully) represents well Jack's actual writing by including several recordings of him reading passages of prose and poetry, set to various images indicative of his middle-class American background. What Happened to Kerouac isn't an exceptionally well-made documentary, but it is effective in what it tries to do and respectful to its subject. The interviews are all insightful and the accounts they give of living with Jack are often very entertaining. It's great to hear the recordings included - Kerouac's writing an undeniably rhythmic, free-flowing nature that comes across in his jazzy, energetic reading of it. This is a documentary anyone should see who is a fan or has read any of Kerouac's work, or is interested the Beat generation (and how can one not be, really?), but there's not much here for anyone else.
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