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Director: John Krokidas
Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, Ben Foster, David Cross, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Writing Credits:
John Krokidas and Austin Bunn

A True Story of Obsession and Murder

A murder in 1944 draws together the great poets of the beat generation: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$53,452 on 4 Screens
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 103 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 3/18/2014

• Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director John Krokidas, Co-Writer Austin Bunn, and Actors Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan
• “In Conversation with Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan”
• “Q&A with Director/Co-Writer John Krokidas and Co-Writer Austin Bunn”
• “On the Red Carpet at the Toronto Film Festival”
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailer and Previews
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Kill Your Darlings [Blu-Ray] (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 13, 2014)

With 2013’s Kill Your Darlings, we get a fact-based tale of murder related to the legendary writers of the “Beat Generation”. Starting in 1943, we go to Columbia University to encounter Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) as a new student. There the aspiring poet meets Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), a free-spirited fellow writer with whom Allen bonds.

Allen grows to idolize the lively Lucien and becomes part of his group of like-minded folks. Among these we find David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), an older man who appears to resent the newfound closeness between Allen and Lucien. We follow these relationships and their deadly repercussions.

When I see “based on a true story” attached to a film, I immediately become suspicious. Often this means “we took a situation and made a movie with vague connections but want you to think it’s all factual”.

In this case, though, it appears that Darlings comes with more truth than usual. At the very least, it gets the most important element correct in terms of the death that becomes a significant plot point, and I suspect it brings us a fair amount of additional factual material along with the expected liberties.

Unfortunately, Darlings doesn’t deliver a particularly involving tale. Much of the problem stems from its desire to serve a variety of masters, as Darlings comes with enough material for multiple movies packed into its 103 minutes. A flick that viewed the origins of the Beat Generation alone would’ve been enough, but this one feels compelled to get into other topics such as Allen’s mentally ill mother, the murder, the triangle among Lucien, Kammerer and Allen, and so on.

Because Darling fits so much into its brief running time, it tends to give those elements the short shrift. This means that none of the components receives enough attention to prosper so all of them feel abbreviated. A film about famous writers probably shouldn’t come across as the Cliff’s Notes version, but that’s what we get here.

At least the movie boasts solid performances. Radcliffe sheds Harry Potter well - and manages to handle an American accent with better than average aplomb. He covers Allen’s growth and development in a convincing way, and DeHaan also brings nice depth to his part. A strong supporting cast fleshes out the tale adroitly as well.

Too bad the movie as a whole doesn’t seem to go much of anywhere. Kill Your Darlings has some good moments but it can’t quite live up to its potential.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

Kill Your Darlings appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie offered a stylized but appealing presentation.

For the most part, sharpness appeared positive. However, fine detail was lacking in some wide shots. Although these were minor instances, they meant that the delineation wasn’t quite as consistent as I’d like. I noticed no issues with shimmering or jagged edges, and edge haloes weren’t a factor. Source flaws remained absent.

As one might expect from a period flick like this, Darlings provided a subdued palette. Colors tended toward a desaturated bent with a tendency toward a yellow or blue feel, but they seemed clear and well-developed within those constraints. Blacks showed good depth and darkness, while shadows were solid. This was a “B”-level presentation.

Given the film’s character scope, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Darlings didn’t boast a great deal of dynamic material. Nonetheless, it had its moments. We got a lot of music, and those elements spread to the various speakers in a satisfying manner. Otherwise, we stayed with environmental elements; street scenes, storms and some drug-induced moments opened things up in a satisfying way.

Audio quality was good. Speech was natural and concise, as the lines lacked noticeable concerns. Music came across as vivid enough; some of the 1940s recordings held back the fidelity to a degree, but the score and songs remained winning. Effects didn’t have a ton to do, but they were full and clear; the occasional louder elements showed positive punch as well. While nothing here impressed, the track was good enough for a “B“.

When we move to the disc’s extras, we begin with an audio commentary from writer/director John Krokidas, writer Austin Bunn and actors Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan. All four sit together for a running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, costumes, cinematography and music, period details, and some other areas.

Overall, this becomes a decent but unexceptional chat. It covers a reasonable array of topics, though I would like to know more about the facts behind the fiction; that subject doesn't receive much exploration. We also find too much happy talk along the way. Still, the commentary moves at a good rate and examines enough of the film to deserve a listen.

We hear more from the actors via In Conversation with Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan. This six-minute, four-second piece features the pair in front of an audience as they take questions from moderator Jenelle Riley. They talk about what led them to their roles, thoughts about their co-stars and crew, and aspects of their performances. Despite the brevity of this piece, it includes a good mix of notes.

The other two commentary participants show up in a one-hour, five-minute, and 42-second Q&A with director/co-writer John Krokidas and co-writer Austin Bunn. Unlike “In Conversation”, this Q&A doesn’t place the pair in a live setting; instead, they sit in Bunn‘s living room and answer a mix of questions they’d heard. These look at what interested the pair in the movie’s subject matter and launched the film, story/character/screenplay areas, their working relationship, and other aspects of the filmmaking processes and their personalities.

Krokidas and Bunn come across as more engaging and informative here than in their commentary. That track was reasonably good but “Q&A” seems tighter and more packed with details. Perhaps because they don’t have to share time with the actors, the chemistry between Bunn and Krokidas becomes more apparent, and they interact well to make this a strong piece.

On the Carpet at the Toronto Film Festival lasts seven minutes, 29 seconds and shows cast and crew as they arrive. We then hear from Krokidas as he introduces the movie at its premiere. It’s a forgettable clip.

Seven Deleted Scenes fill a total of seven minutes, 20 seconds. These tend to either expand existing scenes or add moments about secondary characters; for instance, we see more of Allen’s macho roommate. None of these seem bad, but they feel unnecessary.

The disc launches with ads for The Invisible Woman, The Armstrong Lie, Tim’s Vermeer, Blue Jasmine and Wadjda. These also show up under Previews and we find the trailer for Darlings as well.

A second disc gives us a DVD copy of Darlings. It includes all the same extras as the Blu-ray.

Maybe someday we’ll get a good movie about the “Beat Generation”, but Kill Your Darlings doesn’t deliver that film. While I don’t think it flops, it comes with a lack of focus that makes it meander. The Blu-ray provides mostly positive picture and audio along with a nice roster of supplements. Parts of Darlings work but this ends up as an inconsistent experience.

Viewer Film Ratings: -- Stars Number of Votes: 0
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