DID YOU READ

“On The Road” cast and director talk road trips, jazz, and the American dream

Film Review-On the Road

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Jack Kerouac’s groundbreaking 1957 novel On The Road defined a generation when it first hit shelves, and 50 years later the story of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty’s wild journey across postwar America will finally make it to the big screen.

While some have questioned whether Kerouac’s semi-autobiographical account of his travels with Neal Cassady can possibly resonate with modern audiences, the film’s supporters – including executive producer Francis Ford Coppola, who bought the rights to the story in 1979 – have long argued that the themes of music, drugs, sex, and self-discovery that fuel On The Road are as relevant today as they were when the book was first published. For director Walter Salles, the book’s enduring qualities became clear when he embarked on a cross-country road trip of his own prior to filming.

“I tried to immerse myself in the world that these guys had lived in,” Salles told IFC of the years he spent traveling back and forth across the country before and after filming – a series of trips he chronicled in the documentary “Searching for On The Road.”

“We did that for six years intermittently, criss-crossing America,” he said. “We met the characters of the book that are still alive and talked to the poets of that generation who ended up changing the cultural landscape of America.”

Widely regarded as one of the most important novels of the 20th century, On The Road tells of Kerouac’s introduction to Cassady in the late 1940s and the years of near-continuous traveling across North America that followed their initial meeting. While Kerouac’s original draft of the book identified Neal and himself by name – as well as Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and various other literary figures of the time – the characters were renamed in the first published edition of the book. Kerouac became Sal Paradise, Neal became Dean Moriarty, and so on.

For Salles, practical research for “On The Road” continued long after principal filming was completed, with lead Garrett Hedlund (Dean Moriarty / Neal Cassady) joining the director on yet another cross-country road trip just after shooting wrapped. The pair made their way from one coast to the other in the 1949 Hudson used during filming of the movie – the same make and model that carried Sal and Dean on their wild adventure.

“We must have broken down about nine times, but we met some of the best mechanics in the country,” laughed Hedlund. “We drove through a blizzard where I actually had to drive with my head out of the window from Utica to Erie, Pennsylvania, because we didn’t have window-wipers, a gas gauge, or a speedometer. I think we drove without brakes from Cincinnati to Lexington, Kentucky. We broke down in Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Las Vegas, New Mexico… [Laughs] We drove backroads the whole way, trying to retrace the path of Kerouac.”

British actor Sam Riley, who plays Sal Paradise in the film, found that his connection with Kerouac’s novel had as much to do with the music of the time as the highways.

“On one hand, there was a connection because I didn’t know very much about America – like Jack, it was still new to me,” he explained. “But the music, that was one of the things I really threw myself into.”

Riley told IFC he immersed himself in the early jazz that fascinated Kerouac and his companions and provided a soundtrack for many of their adventures. A musician himself, Riley soon found that his phone’s library of ’40s and ’50s jazz tracks became a valuable resource during filming.

“Before some scenes, I’d play something in the car, and that would very much help us feel a part of the place and the time,” he said. “Walter would have me pick something for us, and I really began to enjoy it. In a way, that was one of my roles throughout everything. I was the one with the phone with all the bebop on it.”

And whether he was speeding down a country road with Hedlund or looking to Riley for musical inspiration, Salles insisted that these were more than just helpful, atmosphere-creating experiments – they were absolutely, positively necessary to understand Kerouac’s story and inhabit the characters of the novel.

“We needed to do that in order to be completely faithful to the free-form, jazz-infused narrative that is at the heart of this book,” he explained. “We also needed to do that to fill it with improvisation and moments that are unexpected.”

“We went from New York to the West Coast, criss-crossing America and taking those backroads trying to find unpolluted Walmart territory in order to capture the last American frontiers these guys were trying to find in their own travels,” he added. “And at some point I realized that the question isn’t whether those frontiers still exist today, but whether they even existed in Kerouac’s time. I think that maybe they were witnessing the beginning of the end of the American dream.”

”On The Road” arrives in theaters December 21 and stars Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, and Kristen Stewart. The film is directed by Walter Salles from a screenplay by Jose Rivera.

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Holiday Extra Special

Make The Holidays ’80s Again

Enjoy the holiday cheer Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Whatever happened to the kind of crazy-yet-cozy holiday specials that blanketed the early winter airwaves of the 1980s? Unceremoniously killed by infectious ’90s jadedness? Slow fade out at the hands of early-onset millennial ennui? Whatever the reason, nixing the tradition was a huge mistake.

A huge mistake that we’re about to fix.

Announcing IFC’s Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special, starring Tony Hale. It’s a celeb-studded extravaganza in the glorious tradition of yesteryear featuring Bridget Everett, Jo Firestone, Nick Thune, Jen Kirkman, house band The Dap-Kings, and many more. And it’s at Joe’s Pub, everyone’s favorite home away from home in the Big Apple.

The yuletide cheer explodes Wednesday December 21 at 10P. But if you were born after 1989 and have no idea what void this spectacular special is going to fill, sample from this vintage selection of holiday hits:

Andy Williams and The NBC Kids Search For Santa

The quintessential holiday special. Get snuggly and turn off your brain. You won’t need it.

A Muppet Family Christmas

The Fraggles. The Muppets. The Sesame Street gang. Fate. The Jim Henson multiverse merges in this warm and fuzzy Holiday gathering.

Julie Andrews: The Sound Of Christmas

To this day a foolproof antidote to holiday cynicism. It’s cheesy, but a good cheese. In this case an Alpine Gruyère.

Star Wars Holiday Special

Okay, busted. This one was released in 1978. Still totally ’80s though. And yes that’s Bea Arthur.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special

Pass the eggnog, and make sure it’s loaded. This special is everything you’d expect it to be and much, much more.

Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special premieres Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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It Ain't Over Yet

A Guide to Coping with the End of Comedy Bang! Bang!

Watch the final episodes tonight at 11 and 11:30P on IFC.

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After five seasons and 110 halved-hour episodes, Scott Aukerman’s hipster comedy opus, Comedy Bang! Bang!, has come to an end. Fridays at 11 and 11:30P will never be the same. We know it can be hard for fans to adjust after the series finale of their favorite TV show. That’s why we’ve prepared this step-by-step guide to managing your grief.

Step One: Cry it out

It’s just natural. We’re sad too.
Scott crying GIF

Step Two: Read the CB!B! IMDB Trivia Page

The show is over and it feels like you’ve lost a friend. But how well did you really know this friend? Head over to Comedy Bang! Bang!’s IMDB page to find out some things you may not have known…like that it’s “based on a Civil War battle of the same name” or that “Reggie Watts was actually born with the name Theodore Leopold The Third.”

Step Three: Listen to the podcast

One fascinating piece of CB!B! trivia that you might not learn from IMDB is that there’s a podcast that shares the same name as the TV show. It’s even hosted by Scott Aukerman! It’s not exactly like watching the TV show on a Friday night, but that’s only because each episode is released Monday morning. If you close your eyes, the podcast is just like watching the show with your eyes closed!

Step Four: Watch brand new CB!B! clips?!

The best way to cope with the end of Comedy Bang! Bang! is to completely ignore that it’s over — because it’s not. In an unprecedented move, IFC is opening up the bonus CB!B! content vault. There are four brand new, never-before-seen sketches featuring Scott Aukerman, Kid Cudi, and “Weird Al” Yankovic ready for you to view on the IFC App. There’s also one right here, below this paragraph! Watch all four b-b-bonus clips and feel better.

Binge the entire final season, plus exclusive sketches, right now on the IFC app.

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Everybody Sweats Now

The Four-Day Sweatsgiving Weekend On IFC

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This long holiday weekend is your time to gobble gobble gobble and give heartfelt thanks—thanks for the comfort and forgiveness of sweatpants. Because when it comes right down to it, there’s nothing more wholesome and American than stuffing yourself stupid and spending endless hours in front of the TV in your softest of softests.

So get the sweats, grab the remote and join IFC for four perfect days of entertainment.

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It all starts with a 24-hour T-day marathon of Rocky Horror Picture Show, then continues Friday with an all-day binge of Stan Against Evil.

By Saturday, the couch will have molded to your shape. Which is good, because you’ll be nestled in for back-to-back Die Hard and Lethal Weapon.

Finally, come Sunday it’s time to put the sweat back in your sweatpants with The Shining, The Exorcist, The Chronicles of Riddick, Terminator 2, and Blade: Trinity. They totally count as cardio.

As if you need more convincing, here’s Martha Wash and the IFC&C Music Factory to hammer the point home.

The Sweatsgiving Weekend starts Thursday on IFC

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