REVIEW: Magic Trip

25 03 2015

Magic TripIn the interregnum between the Beatnik era of “On the Road” and the hippies of “Inherent Vice,” there was Ken Kesey and his Merry Band of Pranksters.  The writer, best known for the counterculture classic “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” rode around the country with a group of pals in a bus called “Further.”  They sought the creation of art and the consumption of drugs – it was the mid-1960s, after all.

Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood’s “Magic Trip” documents their odd voyage, though not with the usual talking heads and ex post facto interviews.  The directors got their hands on the 16 mm footage that Kesey and company shot on “Further” and construct most of their nearly two-hour documentary out of the raw material, which had previously been unseen by audiences.

Admittedly, this is a film that will appeal most to those familiar with Kesey’s work and are curious to learn more about the man and the time that spawned them.  “Magic Trip” often sags under the weight of its embarrassment of riches; after all, those who want to learn more should be able to experience as much of it as possible.

But even for those unfamiliar with the author or the circles in which he ran, “Magic Trip” still provides an excellent document of what it was like to be on the fringes of society before the tumult of the decade pushed more people that direction.  Gibney and Ellwood also do a brilliant job depicting their drug usage, crafting a brilliant sequence of words and images to accompany audio footage of Kesey’s first LSD trip.  And, mind you, that partaking was not merely recreational.  It was sponsored by the CIA.  What a time.  B+3stars

Advertisements




WTLFT: August 2011

7 07 2011

Hard to believe we can see the light at the end of the tunnel that is summer 2011.  So, here’s what to look forward to – or not – in the month of August.

August 5

“The Change-Up” – it’s “Freaky Friday,” but rated R and starring two dudes.  We’ll see how this goes.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to figure out why on earth James Franco is doing “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”  Between getting two doctorate degrees and just receiving an Oscar nomination, you would think he would have the smarts and the options to avoid making a movie like this for money or for résumé.  Then again, everyone nowadays has to go to drastic measures to pay for higher education in this country.

I feel like I have to embed the trailer for “Bellflower” rather than just link to it, simply because I can tell it isn’t trying to be like some other movie just to sell tickets.

Being a fan of both the novel and the film “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” I have to see “Magic Trip,” Alex Gibney’s latest documentary which spotlights the book’s author Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters in the 1960s.

August 10/12

Getting a head start on the weekend by opening on Wednesday is “The Help,” which looks to be a late-summer sleeper, hoping to please the oft-neglected female crowd by adapting a best-selling book.  But with this one looking to be less geared towards one gender and even a potential awards play, this could outgross “Green Lantern” or other summer flops.

The premise of “30 Minutes or Less” feels, quite frankly, a little recycled.  But since it boasts the comedic talents of Aziz Ansari (the funniest part of “Parks & Recreation”), Danny McBride (the best part of “Pineapple Express“), and Jesse Eisenberg being reteamed with the director of the hilariously awesome “Zombieland,” it may end up being pretty good.

And because “THE Final Destination” wasn’t final enough, there’s “Final Destination 5,” which is shot in 3D.  Too bad the title “the 3D event of the summer” was already taken – and I don’t think they could stretch it into 5 dimensions quite yet.  There’s also a “Glee” concert movie in 3D in case you haven’t spent enough buying their singles on iTunes.

August 19

Is it just me, or does “Fright Night” = “Disturbia” + zombies?  Also, Anton Yelchin is keeping crazy busy.  He beat unemployment.

As for a last big summer action movie, count me out for “Conan the Barbarian.”  You can even count me out for the inevitable Arnold Schwarzenegger classics marathon that will be running all weekend on Spike.  I think I’ll pass on the latest “Spy Kids” movie as well, which is a TOTAL sell-out of a series that I actually loved when I was 8.  Aroma-scope?  Gross.

August 26

I will see ANY movie with Paul Rudd, so “Our Idiot Brother” is a must-see for me.  It’s only made better by the fact that it played at Sundance to a great deal of acclaim.  Huzzah!

There is no trailer available yet for “Higher Ground” (grr!), but I think this may be my must-see movie of August … because I probably won’t get to see it until December.  Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut, a religious movie, just Vera Farmiga in general – sign me up!

In other indie news, the 2010 TIFF debut “Brighton Rock,” Rowan Joffe’s remake of the old British film, finally sees release in America.  “Chasing Madoff” looks like a sleek documentary, but I’m wondering what will distinguish it from the perfectly good “Frontline” special on PBS that unfurled his whole story.  “Circumstance” brings Iranian youth to the screen, and again I have to wonder what makes this any different than a live action version of “Persepolis” set in the present day.

I wasn’t the biggest “Pan’s Labyrinth” enthusiast, so Guillermo del Toro’s “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” isn’t necessarily high on my list for the weekend.  Nor is “Colombiana,” the Zoe Saldana-starrer which looks like a carbon copy of Luc Besson’s “The Professional.”  Oh, it’s also directed by him … coincidence?  I think NOT!

So, what do you think will please crowds in August?  Are you looking for one last bang from the summer – or for it to just end already?  Sound off in the comments AND take the poll!