After a series of aborted attempts over the years, Jack Kerouac’s Beat Generation landmark On the Road finally makes it to the screen directed by Brazil’s Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries). If nothing else, it looks the part: chock full with rich postwar detail and a cast led by Brit Sam Riley (Control) as Kerouac stand-in Sal Paradise, and the excellent Garrett Hedlund as his charismatic traveling companion Dean Moriarty, it also features The Twilight Saga’s Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Tom Sturridge, Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen and Steve Buscemi. But lacking a cinematic equivalent for Kerouac’s exuberant prose style, as well as historical context, it amounts to little more than pretty shots of landscapes intercut with people getting drunk, stoned and laid in confined spaces. Which, last time we checked, is not particularly interesting these days.
Based on Isaac Marion’s novel and directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50), Warm Bodies is a zombie movie with a big, putrefying heart at its center that is struggling to beat back into life. It belongs to R (Nicholas Hoult, Jack the Giant Slayer), who, like much of the world’s population, has been transformed into one of the marauding undead after a zombie apocalypse. But unlike the rest of his flesh-craving brethren, he has enough humanity left to save the still-human Julie (Teresa Palmer) from an attack and fall head over heels in love, with far-reaching repercussions for the planet.
Notes from small towns
Known for alternating experimental projects with more mainstream work, Gus Van Sant returns with Promised Land, an effort very much in the latter category. Based on a story by Dave Eggers, it reunites him with his Good Will Hunting collaborator Matt Damon, who plays an energy company salesman trying to convince the inhabitants of a rural Pennsylvania town to part with the fracking drilling rights to their properties.
From Denmark, The Hunt, directed by former Dogme movement co-founder Thomas Vinterberg, stars Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale) as a kindergarten teacher in a small town, whose life is torn to pieces after a little girl wrongfully accuses him of pedophilia.
Safe Haven is the latest Nicholas Sparks’ romance to get the big-screen treatment, following in the tear-stained trail of The Notebook, Dear John and The Lucky One. Here Julianne Hough (Rock of Ages) plays a young woman with a mysterious past who arrives in a North Carolina town and slowly falls into the arms of hunky single dad Josh Duhamel, only for her secrets to catch up with her.