Sunday, October 14, 2007

He's right here


I hope that anyone who was as utterly disappointed in the the Neal Cassady movie finds something worth reading in the story that I wrote for the Poughkeepsie Journal, about Cassady and Bob Dylan, that appears in today's paper.

My story is pegged to the showing at the film fest of "Neal Cassady" and "I'm Not There," which is about the different personas of Dylan and closes the fest tonight at the Tinker Street Cinema.

But my story isn't about these films. It's about these two larger-than-life personalities that inspired these films. Cassady was a friend of Jack Kerouac's and the inspiration for Kerouac's Dean Moriarity character in "On the Road." Quite frankly, I think you will learn more about Cassady in my story than you will in the movie.

There are also a few nuggets about Bob.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

well, i saw the movie "neal cassady" and i read your article and i must say i learned a lot more in from the movie. the movie, unlike, your article-- was about human nature. it wasn't just a text book discourse on myths. it was about what happens when we start believing the myths about ourselves. your article is just another article that gets down on it's knees for "larger than life" guys. god forbid anyone make a movie about cassady that shows him to be the suicidal mess that he was. what are you protecting?

John W. Barry said...

Thanks for your feedback. I'm always flattered when someone reads something I've written and feels so strongly about it that they take the time to write such a long and thoughtful comment.

From everything I've read and researched on Neal Cassady, Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters, which is a lot, the movie "Neal Cassady" was just plain inaccurate. It was also boring and poorly made.

Anonymous said...

How was it inaccurate? You should back up a comment like that.

As far as it being boring and poorly made-- your opinion, I disagree. But you're a writer for the local Woodstock newspaper, so I'm sure you are right.

John W. Barry said...

You couldn't be more accurate. I thought the movie was boring. That is my opinion, which is no less or more valid than your opinion or anyone else's.

As for the accuracy of the film, I've seen footage of Neal Cassady. I've spoken with people who knew him. I've spoken with people who devoted years of their lives to studying him. I've heard countless interviews in which people who knew him discussed him. There is just about nothing in the movie "Neal Cassady" that aligns with any of what I know about Neal Cassady. Therefore, I can soundly say that the movie was inaccurate.

Now, for your facts. I don't write for the Woodstock paper. Perhaps the word "Poughkeepsie in "Poughkeepsie Journal" offers a clue as to which paper I write for. I'll let you take it from there.

And again. Thanks for writing. I love a good, solid debate and it sounds like your passion for film and writing is strong. Thanks for the discussion!

John W. Barry said...

You couldn't be more accurate. I thought the movie was boring. That is my opinion, which is no less or more valid than your opinion or anyone else's.

As for the accuracy of the film, I've seen footage of Neal Cassady. I've spoken with people who knew him. I've spoken with people who devoted years of their lives to studying him. I've heard countless interviews in which people who knew him discussed him. There is just about nothing in the movie "Neal Cassady" that aligns with any of what I know about Neal Cassady. Therefore, I can soundly say that the movie was inaccurate.

Now, for your facts. I don't write for the Woodstock paper. Perhaps the word "Poughkeepsie" in "Poughkeepsie Journal" offers a clue as to which paper I write for. I'll let you take it from there.

And again. Thanks for writing. I love a good, solid debate and it sounds like your passion for film and writing is strong. Thanks for the discussion!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Barry,

Your argument for accuracy is, "because I say so." How about outlining some comparative information point for point? What did you read? How is it different than what you saw?

Some of us out here didn't see the movie, and are at a loss for details. Your defensive responses are painting a picture only about your subjective viewpoint, and not about factual observations of either the movie or the body of work you've studied.

There has to be more of an answer than just "I'm brilliant and well-read." Prove it- state what you know - give examples. Don't forget journalism is best served objectively, without the use of the words "I," "me," or "my."

John W. Barry said...

Here is the most glaring example. Anything I've ever read about NC or heard about him was that he was overflowing with physical energy, able to hold several conversations at once, was very adept at anticipating one's thoughts and was a maniacal driver who somehow managed to avoid auto accidents.

I found none of this in the movie.

Also - As I've written, I've met Ken Kesey. Spoken to him. Shook his hand. The guy, even pushing 70, was built like a truck and lumberjack. In the film, he was portrayed as a dumpy, lethargic individual.

Also, the footage I have seen of KK from back in the 1960s shows him as a physically-fit individual, with a real kick in his step and sense of leadership about him. I saw none of this in the movie.

Also, the day-glo painted school bus in the movie looked like a cheap replica. Like this movie's portrayal of Cassady, it seems the filmmakers didn't even take the trouble to study what the bus really looked like, which I find insulting.

john dooley said...

Try reading Kesey's short story "The Day After Superman Died" to see Kesey as tired and exhausted and to see Neal as a human being who didn't have endless energy reserve. Guess what, they were human! And I have seen all the bus footage and thought it was faithful, if dark recreation... John W. Barry is a frustrated artist.

Here is the Indiewire review, for anyone who is looking for professional review, not annoying, inarticulate, hung up amateur blogger:

Among the world prem's were Cristina Kotz Cornejo's "3 Americas," Todd Kwait's "Chasin' Gus' Ghost" and Oliver Noble's "Night of the Living Jews" (who, in true Woodstock fashion, played host to a raucous late night barn party celebrating the film). Among the stand-outs in this group were Noah Bushel's "Neal Cassady," an intelligent, hip but disjointed biopic that focuses on the life of the inspiration behind Dean Moriarty, author Jack Kerouac's lead character from "On The Road" and how he launched the Beat Generation and become a cultural icon. Tate Donovan's performance as Cassady is reason enough to see this film.

john dooley said...

Austin Chronicle Review:

The much-mythologized Neal Cassady – the Adonis of Denver, muse to Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, the superman who motored Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters' bus ever Further – lost his own sense of identity once it became evident he was the model for On the Road's Dean Moriarty. Donovan (who has forged an interesting career of late that veers from high-profile television roles to star-effacing parts in small movies) hits it out of the park as the drug-fueled id personified and failed writer and family man. Writer/director Buschel creates a thoughtful and evocative sense of Cassady's conundrum while also giving fair due to all the interests of the sparring estates by creating a well-rounded, though imagined, portrait. Bauer as Kesey puts it succinctly when he says at one point, "You've got to ask yourself this: Do I want to be a lightning rod or a seismograph?" – Marjorie Baumgarten

John W. Barry said...

"not annoying, inarticulate, hung up amateur blogger"

I am flattered that Mr. Dooley took the time out of his busy schedule to post a comment on our blog, not once, not twice.

To be called annoying, inarticulate, hung up and amateur, all in the same sentence, by the same person, is too much for words.

Obviously, Mr. Dooely, you are so moved by my writing, albeit in the negative, that you have taken the time to read this blog AND post...TWICE. You could not have paid me a higher compliment than to reveal how my writing has moved you. Thank you.

And yes. I will always be an amateur writer because I am always striving to become a better writer. Perhaps you have reached the top of the mountain with your writing? If you have, congratulations. I will never be there in my eyes, nor do I want to be there. The flattery from people such as yourself is sustenance enough for this amateur writer.