Kerouac film has cult potential

Sam Riley (left), Kristen Stewart, and Garrett Hedlund star in "On the Road," based on writer Jack Kerouac's travels across the America.
Sam Riley (left), Kristen Stewart, and Garrett Hedlund star in "On the Road," based on writer Jack Kerouac's travels across the America. (GREGORY SMITH)
Posted: August 24, 2013

The first draft of On the Road, Jack Kerouac's 1957 beat generation manifesto, was composed over three weeks in 1951 on a typewriter fed with a continuous scroll of paper.

Some critics slammed Kerouac as a mere typist and dismissed the bebop jazz-influenced story, about the author's travels across the American landscape - and dreamscape - as twaddle. It's now considered a classic.

Beginning with Kerouac himself, artists for the last half-century have tried to bring the book to the screen. Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles ( The Motorcycle Diaries) finally achieved that goal in 2012 with On the Road, starring Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Elisabeth Moss, and Kristin Stewart. It received mixed reviews, but has the potential to attract a cult following on disc. You be the judge.

( www.ifcfilms.com; $24.98 DVD; $29.98 Blu-ray; rated R)

Other DVDs of note

Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal. A snarky satire about the art world, it stars Thure Lindhardt as Lars, a once-renowned painter who retreats to a small town, where he befriends a mute, gentle giant of a man who becomes a ravenous, flesh-eating monster at night. Lars, desperate for fresh ideas, is inspired! ( www.doppelgangerreleasing.com; $19.95 DVD; $24.95 Blu-ray; not rated)

The Up Series (Seven Up-56 Up). One of the most fascinating documentary projects in British TV history, this series of films began in 1964 with Paul Almond's Seven Up!, a study of the lives of 14 diverse 7-year-olds designed to find out how much class predetermines one's life in Britain.

Director Michael Apted took up the baton seven years later with 7 Plus Seven, which revisited the same kids, and he has returned to them every seven years   since. This box set includes all eight films in the series, including last year's 56 Up. ( www.firstrunfeatures.com; $79.95; not rated)

The Driver. One of Quentin Tarantino's favorite pics, this wicked existentialist film noir stars Ryan O'Neal as a a professional getaway driver. Bruce Dern and Isabelle Adjani costar.   The latest in the handsome, limited-edition Twilight Series, this Blu-ray is available only directly from Screen Archives. ( www.screenarchives.com; $29.95; rated PG)

Post Tenebras Lux. Mexican master stylist Carlos Reygadas ( Japón; Battle in Heaven) won the best-director award at Cannes for this mystifying psychological character piece about an upper-class urban family whose relationships corrode after they move to the countryside and are confronted by nature in all its terrifying indifference to human suffering. ( www.strandreleasing.com; $27.99; not rated)

To Be or Not to Be. This sharp-edged 1942 comedy from Ernst Lubitsch stars Carole Lombard and Jack Benny as members of a troupe of Polish actors who stand up to the Nazis in occupied Warsaw.


( www.criterion.com; $29.95 DVD; $39.95 Blu-ray; not rated)

NCIS: Los Angeles the Fourth Season. It's formulaic, has over-the-top action scenes and crazy conspiratorial plots, but it's become increasingly difficult not to like CBS's spinoff action series, which stars Chris O'Donnell, LL Cool J, and the inimitable Linda Hunt as antiterrorism special agents. Also catch the latest season of the original show, NCIS: The Complete Tenth Season. ( www.paramount.com/movies/home-media; $64.99 each; not rated).

Elementary: The First Season. Due on DVD on Tuesday, CBS's take on the Sherlock Holmes story stars Jonny Lee Miller as a police consultant in contemporary New York City. Lucy Liu plays Dr. Joan Watson, whose job is to keep the genius from relapsing into heroin addiction. Good murder plotlines and some real wit here, but too much therapy-talk. It's no match for BBC America's Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch. ( www.paramount.com/movies/home-media; $55.98; not rated)For the BBC "Sherlock," visit www.bbcamerica.com/sherlock.


Contact Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or tirdad@phillynews.com.

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