Allen Ginsberg wrote about hipsters "burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo," yet movies about the Beat Generation — most recently "Howl" (2010) and "On the Road" (2012) — have tended to fizzle. Even so, "Kill Your Darlings," which hits theaters on October 18, looks promising for a couple of reasons. One is the cast: Jack Houston (who plays Jack Kerouac) and Jennifer Jason Leigh (as Ginsberg's mother) choose projects carefully, and Daniel Radcliffe, aka Harry Potter, is said to give James Franco a run for his money in the role of Ginsberg.
Then there's the film's subject. "Kill Your Darlings" doesn't focus on an epic poem or road trip; it's the story of a murder in Riverside Park committed by Lucien Carr, the Columbia student at the core of the Beat literary movement who introduced Ginsberg to Kerouac and the two of them to William Burroughs. After the killing, Kerouac helped Carr dispose of the weapon — a Boy Scout knife — and then took him to the movies. Carr later pled guilty to first-degree manslaughter, and although one newspaper deemed it an "honor killing" (the victim was gay and persistent), he went to prison for two years. His three friends all wrote about the incident, which appears in both Kerouac's first novel, "The Town and the City," and his last, "Vanity of Duluoz."
However "Kill Your Darlings" pans out, Beat-inspired movies will keep coming. Next up is "Big Sur," based on another Kerouac novel and set to debut on November 1. So far there has been less talk about this one, but one thing's for sure: The setting will be spectacular. — John Birmingham