It’s been a slow week as, recovering from my bicycle accident, I can’t sit at the desk more than a few minutes at a time before my broken ribs start aching. Nevertheless, I did manage to get out on Saturday to see On the Road, the Kerouac saga that’s recently been adapted to the screen after being filmed, in part, in Argentina. Having grown up after the Beats, I certainly read On the Road, but I can’t compare my own experiences with the flamboyant Bohemianism of Sal Paradise (Kerouac’s fictional persona), his friend and idol Jack Cassady (“Dean Moriarty” in the book and film), Allen Ginsberg (“Carlo Marx”), and William Burroughs (“Old Bull Lee,” played by honorary Argentine Viggo Mortensen, who grew up on the Pampas).
Partly, in seeing the film, I was hoping to be able to identify specific Argentine landscapes that so closely resemble parts of the western United States (such as the steppe of Neuquén province, in the photograph above). Brazilian director Walter Salles, though, was astute enough not to leave any obvious clues, especially given his experience in filming the Che Guevara epic The Motorcycle Diaries a few years ago.
Argentina, though, has its own history of road movies. I don’t pretend to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the country’s cinema, but there are a couple Patagonian road movies that, in addition to The Motorcycle Diaries, I would recommend. The first is director Carlos Sorín’s Historias Mínimas (Intimate Stories, 2002), three intertwined tales set in the coastal city of Puerto San Julián, in Patagonia’s Santa Cruz province. It’s more a slice-of-life film, available streaming on Netflix in the United States.
The second, director Marcelo Piñeyro’s Caballos Salvajes (Wild Horses, 1995) is a Robin Hood/Bonnie and Clyde bank-robber caper that begins in Buenos Aires but ends in the robbers’ fleeing to Patagonia to avoid both the police and the Mafia. It features two of Argentina’s finest actors, Héctor Alterio and Federico Luppi; while not apparently available on streaming video, it’s worth seeking out on DVD.
In Other News
On Saturday, I did a short radio interview on off-season travel to Chilean Patagonia for Rudy Maxa’s World, a syndicated travel program that is now available on streaming audio at the link indicated. Also, for anyone planning travel to Chile this fall (southern spring), I will be serving as a guest lecturer aboard the Navimag ferry shuttle between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales between November 11 and 18. This covers the southbound segment to Natales and, after a day in port, the northbound return to Puerto Montt. If all goes well, we may do an encore in March.