On the Road is one of those books people live their life by. It changes perception. People read and reread it, discuss its particulars, and keep a copy in their luggage when they decide to act on its inspiration and go on a trip just like the characters Dean Moriarty, Sal Paradise and Marylou. Most of the time filming a work of literary genius like that is near impossible, especially one that lacks a traditional narrative structure. The film version of On the Road just about gets it right.

Director Walter Salles and screenwriter Jose Rivera have done as good a job of translating Kerouac’s tone and pace as possible with On the Road. Starring Garrett Hedlund (in the role of his career), Kristen Stewart, Sam Riley and featuring supporting performances by Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Elizabeth Moss, Kirsten Dunst and others, the film echoes the free and easy tone defined by the book, filled with travel, drugs, sex, and philosophy. The question is: does that make for an entertaining film? The answer is complicated.

On the Road opens on December 21, but recently played as part of the AFI Fest Presented by Audi. Read more below.

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Once upon a time there was a real break between TV and movies, but that is long since eroded. Writers, directors, and actors regularly bounce between features and TV, and few are quite as known for the practice as Ron Howard. After his early days as a TV actor, Howard reinvented himself as a director, and eventually an Oscar-winning one. But he never left TV altogether, and gave Arrested Development its signature narrative voice.

Howard’s medium-straddling career almost naturally led to the ambitious plan to adapt Stephen King’s The Dark Tower as a series of films and TV episodes. While we wait for that to happen (or not) Howard is putting the finishing touches on his racing drama Rush, and now has a new project set up at Showtime. Conquest is a passion project of the filmmaker’s, and will be a tale of the Spanish conquest in Mexico, scripted by Jose Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries, On the Road.) Read More »

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I’m not quite sure how I feel about the upcoming film version of Jack Kerouac‘s On the Road, which will be directed by Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries). But I just became significantly more convinced about the viability of the film thanks to two new cast members: Amy Adams and Viggo Mortensen. Read More »

Motorcycle Diaries Duo to Adapt Novel American Rust

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The novel American Rust is on track to be turned into a film, and while the subject matter and tone are called “unrelentingly downbeat,” reporting on the forward movement gives me hope. Because I see a cousin to films like Days of Heaven in this story of friends trying to escape both an accidental murder and their a decaying Pennsylvania town. With the writer/director duo behind The Motorcycle Diaries tackling the book, I hope the eventual film will have some of the same uncanny beauty that made the downbeat films of several decades back so great. Read More »

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