Of the Beats and The Beatles: On the Road and Not Fade Away

by Ethan Alter December 21, 2012 12:27 pm
Of the Beats and The Beatles: <i>On the Road</i> and <i>Not Fade Away</i>

Two pop culture artifacts from the '50s and '60s serve as the jumping off point for a pair of low-budget dramas that are slipping into theaters this holiday weekend amidst more high-profile fare. On the Road is the long-in-the-works movie version of the seminal Jack Kerouac novel of the same name, the book that has launched a thousand soul-searching road trips in the five decades since its publication in 1957. Set a mere seven years after Kerouac's Beat Generation anthem hit shelves, Not Fade Away -- the feature film debut of The Sopranos mastermind David Chase and the first thing he's made since that show went off the air five years ago -- begins with the arrival of the British Invasion on these shores and the immediate impact groups like The Beatles, The Yardbirds and, particularly, The Rolling Stones has on the life of a suburban Jersey boy, modeled loosely after Chase himself. While both films do a fine job recreating their respective eras, only one really gets past the period trappings and tells a universal story that will resonate equally with viewers who were alive at the time, as well as their descendants.

Snow White and the Huntsman: The Fairest of Them All

by Ethan Alter June 1, 2012 6:00 am
<i>Snow White and the Huntsman</i>: The Fairest of Them All

Every summer there's that wild card big-budget studio picture that catches you off guard by being better than you could have predicted. Last year, that film was the Hail Mary franchise reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which made up for the terrible performances of its human cast with a compelling simian hero (Andy Serkis's Caesar) and some entertaining ape-driven action sequences. And while 2012's summer movie season is just getting started, Snow White and the Huntsman is the current favorite to be its most unexpected surprise. That's not to say it's perfect, by the way; first-time director Rupert Sanders and screenwriters Evan Draugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini make a number of major and minor mistakes in the process of bringing the age-old fairy tale back to the big screen. But the movie ultimately gets more right than wrong, finding the proper balance between spectacle and storytelling -- a trick that certain other recent blockbusters (looking at you Men in Black 3 and Battleship) failed to achieve.

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