DVD Review of Beat

Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 9/30/05


  Ask yourself- if there were a film about a bunch of no talent losers who do stupid thing, but without any humor, would I want to watch it? If you say no, good for you. For that is the sum of what the film Beat is about. The losers are Beatnik charlatans William Burroughs (Kiefer Sutherland), his wife Joan Vollmer (Courtney Love), and their pals Allen Ginsberg (Ron Livingston) and Lucien Carr (Norman Reedus). Ok, Ginsberg at least had talent, but anyone with a brain knows he pissed it away. This is a really bad film, and its poverty starts with aimless direction by Gary Walkow, and a script that is utterly devoid of energy, spark, and wit.

  The film is basically about the idiotic relationship between bisexual Bill and juiced up Joan, and how he comes to kill her in a drunken game of William Tell with a loaded gun in Mexico City in the 1950s. The film starts with a brief prologue telling us how aspiring newspaper beat writer Lucien Carrís relationships with the others. Their lives are disturbed when one of their friends is killed by Carr and Burroughs leaves New York for Mexico, with Joan. A few years later, Carr and Ginsberg visit Mexico City, where they find out Bill left his Joan and their kids for a fuckfest in Guatemala with a gay lover who not so secretly loathes Bill, but pleases him for the money. Carr claims to love Joan, and offers to take her away from all this- or things to that effect. So, he, she, and Ginsberg hightail it, by car, to a volcano destroyed village. Yet, Joan stupidly decides to stay with Bill, who is pissy over his gay loverís treatment of him. Itís been a while since I saw the film, and I do not care to rewatch it to give its ending away. So, let me just cover my tail by saying you wonít be blown away by the ending. Oh wait, it ends with Joan getting shot, and Carr, back in his New York office, weeping.

  Oddly, I was weeping, too, at the end of this film, but not for the death of Joan Vollmer, but for the death of the time it took me to watch this crap, as well the commentary which, likewise, left no real impression with me. There are precious few extras, and even were the DVD chock with them they would probably blow, as does almost everything put out by anyone even remotely connected to the Beatniks. That is because they were by and large void of talent and creativity, anomic, childish, immature, irresponsible, and plain old repugnant people who lacked ideas, compassion, sympathy, empathy, and warmth. Did I leave anything out? Oh, yeah, and the acting sucks too. Love should stick to vamping off her dead husbandís legacy, Livingston apparently had no clue as to Ginsbergís speech patterns and mannerisms, and the worst of all was Kiefer Sutherland, whose revulsion in a scene where he has to kiss and get Ďphysicalí with another guy is something that has to be seen to be believed. Itís that bad. Perhaps the only two good things I can say for the film and the DVD is that the film a) ends and b) shows just how dull, and all the other qualities I described above, these people were. I was actually glad when Bill killed Joan. I wanted to do it myself.
  In short, donít waste your time nor money.

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