Beat (2000) Poster


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Norman Reedus
Mark Daynes5 July 2007
I enjoyed this film, the actors being excellent & NORMAN REEDUS a talent I had not previously had the luck to experience. Courtney Love & Keifer Sutherland are spot on as the duelling couple. Ron Livingston's part as Ginsberg is brief yet assured, & the dialogue is crackling. I bought this for £1 in Sainsburys whilst doing the shopping. It's one of my best DVD buys, actually. It's certainly an ambitious film, yet it works.

The scenes are the right length & the director never gets consumed with his subject- this could easily have been an obsessive project. All in all, a worthy look at the moment when Burroughs became a writer.
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Dull Fingers Talk!
Infofreak20 July 2001
Look I think William Burroughs was one of the most important figures in not only post-War literature, but in pop culture generally. His work and ideas, and those of the other Beats, have had enormous repercussions on all kinds of arts, and have directly or indirectly affected many of our lives whether we know it or not. Burroughs life was almost as fascinating as his work, but you wouldn't know it from watching 'Beat', as it manages to condense some fascinatingly uncliched relationships into a soap-like love triangle.

I was suprised at the casting of Kiefer Sutherland at first. He isn't an obvious choice to play Burroughs, but he tries hard to humanise him. Unfortunately the thin script doesn't give him much to go on. Likewise Ron Livingston (best known for 'Office Space') does fairly well as Allen Ginsberg, but the script doesn't convince with it's simplistic, almost stereotypical drawing of a complex figure. Lastly, Courtney Love is fine as Burroughs second wife Joan Vollmer, but once again the writing simplifies a multi-layered person into an easy to grasp "character".

It speaks volumes that Cronenberg's surreal 'Naked Lunch' manages to give a much richer and more convincing depiction of these tragic events than the more "realistic" 'Beat'. Perhaps the only way to really deal with the Beats on screen is to aim closer to the approach of their own poetry and prose. The definitive movie portrayal of Burroughs, Ginsberg and co has yet to made. I hope one does eventuate as it's a story that NEEDS to be told!
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I love you like a hole in the head
xokatyxo9 August 2001
I wasn't expecting much (truth be told) but was quite pleasantly surprised. As much as history equates to fiction (and from what I've heard/read this movie must be taken as a work of near-fiction.. "sources" being what they are..) this story still made for a pretty good motion picture. Courtney Love is a very good actress, and not many parts is she better suited to than that of Joan Burroughs. I liked her performance. Keifer Sutherland also made a pretty convincing Bill. The guy that played Lucien Carr (Norman Reedus?) was also impressive.

As "interpretive" as the story was I didn't resent it as much as I thought I might. I imagine William Burroughs, were he still in the land of the living, might have had a few issues with this film but hey, movies always without fail in-one-way-or-another romanticize the truth (truth, truth.. mmmm.. ponder it) and the movie DID do that.. but not as grotesquely as it could've and for that, if nothing else, I liked it. Well-observed (in a secondary, nobody-here-was-actually-there, speculative kind of way) the story still flowed (aided by the, in my opinion, very good performances.) Keifer made William Burroughs seem to have emotions, and strong ones at that, which was interesting.. as you never really picture him like that. (Going by the tone of his spoken-word recordings maybe? the dour face? the slightly contemptible countenance? I don't know.. you just never think of him as the howl-at-the-moon type.. I think Keifer's attempt at humanizing him was quite admirable really.)

The script wasn't bad (could've been MUCH worse.. riddled with beatnik cliches..) there were no real cringe-worthy moments (no-one said anything to the effect of "are you hip to all that jazz" etc etc.. which was a relief.) I liked the movie overall. It's no major statement, and you'd do infinitely better to read some of the great biographies out there if you want an overview of the tale and the beats in general, but the movie is a harmless, and quite enjoyable, footnote.

I liked the quotes at the end (their attempt at a summery i suppose..) especially the gorgeous quote from Lucien Carr. Oh yes and Ron Livingston was also in fine form as poor old lovelorn Allen Ginsberg.
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Juan Carlos Rico Diaz22 October 2008
More motivated by the recreation of the beat generation than by the film acting and production, I was gladly surprised by the respectful treatment of Mexico in this movie: the staging without trials of a country plagued by centuries of poverty, in the 50s, has in addition a careful photography and stunning natural scenarios in which the plot remains unalterable, professional and carefully conducted.

The outstanding performance of Courtney Love, personifying Joan Burroughs, is enhanced by her proverbial beauty in a performance that well deserves to be considered an icon in contemporary cinema. Courtney's big close ups emphasizing "I dare you" can take your breath away. Norman Reedus, in the role of Lucien Carr, gives a slight hint enacting his duties at UPI and clarifies his role in the beat movement. In the film cast Ron Livingston as Allen Ginsberg gives the picture of the introspective young adult he was. Kiefer Sutherland, as William Burroughs, has better lines than acting… yet, his presence is a must.

Finding Mexican actor Luis Felipe Tovar was a surprise. With his eloquent Mexican touch, he embodies a federal policeman in a Michoacan state country road. Memorable. His click on the words in Spanish is his natural; Tovar is definitely a character in alternative Mexican cinema.

The abuse of amphetamine "Benzedrine" and homosexuality are seen on screen without judgments and are merely descriptive elements of the narrative construction, as befits the vision of Gary Walkow, Beat's director.

Highly recommended.
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Very Slick & Visually Interesting
pomspringz28 February 2007
The bulk of the film takes place in Mexico City with side-trips to more remote areas. The scenery outside the City is lush and lovely. The interactions among the actors reflect these locales. I found the film extremely watchable, and was fascinated with the performances. All the lead roles are clearly developed. I loved Courtney Love. She is as beautiful as a modern day Anna Magnani and never has a bad scene. Seeing Kiefer Sutherland in something so unlike his "24" role is a delight. Ron Livingston's performance is controlled and finely honed. Norman Reedus presents raw energy. The cinematography is excellent with wondrous scenes of light and color. One can almost smell the tropical foliage. This is decidedly Courtney Love's movie, since she plays Burroughs' tragic wife. The interactions of these characters, based on real-life people during that time period, is a mesmerizing glimpse into lives in emotional turmoil.
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The best minds he was talking about
AndytheDirector13 August 2006
A great find for anyone who finds themselves enjoying the Beat Generation literature, this is the story of one of the most tragic and pivotal points in their story, the death of Joan Burroughs.

Lucien Carr and Allen Ginsberg, on the eve of their skyrocket to fame, take a trip to Mexico City and visit Joan and William S. Burroughs. Burroughs has excused himself to Guatemala with a boyfriend, so Joan and the two old friends hit the road, reflecting on Lucien's time in jail, unrequited love, Bill's adultery, and the entire meaning of what exactly Kerouac was romanticizing. If you aren't drawn to the Beats and their story, you may want to stray away. However, if you want a sort of proto-"On the Road" mixed with the true story of the events preceding this pivotal moment in Beat history, you will enjoy this film.
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in defence of
deffodark15 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
god, i don't even know how long it has been since i saw this film. it must have been spring of 2000, because i was on holiday to Los Angeles and saw it at that city's film festival. big surprise, i thought courtney love was amazing in this production. boo hoo to all you naysayers insisting she only plays herself and blah-blah-blah. all madonna does is play herself, and she does not even do that convincingly. what courtney love possesses is a preternatural ability to forget the camera is present. what this comfortability in front of the camera does, is provide an opportunity for her 'star quality' to shine. i believe people accuse courtney of only playing herself because she is so comfortable on screen it is assumed that she must have deep familiarity with the role.
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Unromantic and riveting film about a true story
pksky118 March 2003
The beatniks were an artistic and social counterculture movement before the hippies in the sixties. The characters in this movie were famous poets and writers in this movement who had already had many adventures before we find them in this story. Burroughs is holed up in Mexico with his wife and kids on the lam from the US because he had been a heroine addict. Along with his marriage, Burroughs has a homosexual relationship with a younger man. The marriage is having some problems. Some old friends come down south to visit them and party with them.

Perhaps it helps to have had some familiarity with the lives of these people, their times and their work to appreciate this film. Even so, this is a good place to start.
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An excellent movie about William Burroughs before he became a famous literary icon
Edwin-2129 April 2000
I saw the premiere of this film tonight at the USA Film Festival in Dallas, Texas. Prior to this movie, I knew very little about William Burroughs. The producer, Donald Zuckerman spoke before the showing. He explained that after the film's showing at the Cannes Film Festival, they decided to completely re-edit the movie. As a result, the final film print of this movie was not finished for our festival(or compatible with our theater). As a result, we viewed the movie in the theater on a VHS video projected on the screen with a LCD projector and two speakers (on stands) set up on each side of the screen. The producer took some questions before the movie began and stated that the film was closely based on actual factual events. He stated that they did not use "one" specific source (or screenplay) but accumulated the facts from many verifiable sources. Mr. Zuckerman stated that all the scenes were filmed at the actual locations where they took place. The Mexico apartment footage was filmed at the actual location where William Burrough's and his wife Joan lived. The film makers used the apartment across the street because the actual apartment had been demolished.

I enjoyed the movie immensely. There were some initial distracting sound problems, but you won't have these in a normal showing. After the audio problems were fixed, I was glued to the screen. The movie begins and ends during the period before the group of friends became famous. Keifer Sutherland, Courtney Love, Ron Livingston, and Norman Reedus all did a superb job in their performances. Courtney Love was amazing and captivating in her role of Joan Villmer.

Anyone interested or just curious about William Burroughs or the Beat era should definitely see this movie. I gave it a nine.
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Skip this and see Naked Lunch
zer0oskul29 March 2005
I popped in the DVD of the story behind William Seward Burroughs II's murder of his wife Joan. I have read a bit of Burroughs and I own an album by him(he really talked like that). Cinematic folly, from plot to presentation to soundtrack(I was expecting space jazz... or just anything to give the movie a feeling of hipness) it is a bummer. The movie's main surprise is that it is so slow in moving forward and building up. Anticipated for a year and a half, I finally got around to it and was more entertained by Wonder Boys. If you don't know anything at all about Bill Burroughs or Jack Kerrouac(who is portrayed in the movie a total of one second, seriously), see this movie and then gradually immerse yourself into Kerrouac and Ginsberg and work over to Burroughs. If you already know anything at all about the hipster beat culture, this movie is a complete waste of time.

Watch Naked Lunch instead.

Aside: The movie's one saving grace over Naked Lunch is that Keifer Sutherland's portrayal of Burroughs is more true-to-life than Peter Weller's performance in the latter.
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