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It is actually the animation in "Howl" that stands out the most. On some level, I felt that the filmmakers had this inspired idea of how to present "Howl" (the poem) in a visually compelling style--but then had to come up with other secondary material to round out a feature film. The film comes to life with these sequences. Franco's interpretation as he reads "Howl" can be distracting, however. I know he is channeling Ginsberg, but the awkward cadence of his delivery disrupts the smooth flowing imagery. A small point, though, because I found the animation in "Howl" extraordinary and interesting. As a small film, on its own, I think it would have been a rousing success and brought "Howl" (the poem) to a new generation.
The other segments are nice enough.Read more ›
The film begin with the 1957 obscenity trial held for the 1955 creation of the poem Howl: the Judge Clayton Horn (Bob Balaban) hears the prosecutor Ralph McIntosh (David Strathairn) bring testimony from a variety of 'experts' - Gail Potter (Mary-Louise Parker), Professor David Kirk (Jeff Daniels), Luther Nichols (Alessandro Nivola), and Mark Shorer (Treat Williams), and then hears rebuttal from Ginsberg's attorney Jake Ehrlich (Jon Hamm) who is also defending Ginsberg's publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti (Andrew Rogers). And while the trial proceeds the audience is taken back to the year of the poem's creation with Allen Ginsberg portrayed with exceptionally fine acting by James Franco.Read more ›
The stanzas breakdown into an interview with Ginsberg circa 1957, an animated rendition of Howl, the trial, the Six Gallery reading that brought the beats and Howl to mass public awareness, Ginsberg writing Howl, and his meeting and falling in love with Peter Orlovsky.
James Franco plays Ginsberg and while not a nuanced or fiery performance you do get the feeling of what it would be like at the time of the obscenity trial to sit down with Ginsberg and talk about Howl, from how it got started to what it meant to him to write it, and the literary merits of it.
The stanzas mesh seamlessly, and intricately. For instance, the animated Howl that is interspersed with the live action works very well on its own but also in the context of the movie. If you're not familiar with the poem it provides a reference point as to what the controversy was in the first place. The trial scenes with Jon Hamm as Ferlinghetti's defense lawyer, and David Strathairn as the prosecutor provide comic relief, especially more so because the dialog was taken right from the trial transcripts. If obscenity trials are good for anything it's getting straitlaced attorneys to say things that in a different context would be considered obscene.
The movie also doesn't avoid or ignore Ginsberg's homosexuality. As a matter of fact, it's an intricate part of the movie since Howl was Ginsberg's first flash of accepting that within himself as being a part of himself, and normal.
All the performances in "Howl" are good.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this movie so much (especially with the wonderful animation throughout); and Franco's engaging recitations. Wow...I just had to have it in my collection. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Thor
This story made me fall in love with the young James Franco so bad! His stellar and notable performance on this one deserves more awards and critical acclaims.Published 9 days ago by Amanda Chapman
This was everything I wanted from this movie. Yes, it wasn't the most accurate film, and it did leave out some important details, but it was incredibly inspiring and lovely to... Read morePublished 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
Great learning about Allen Ginsberg and about the history of this most wonderful poem. James Franco did a fine job in the Allen Ginsberg role.Published 2 months ago by Paig
If it's a James Franco movie and it doesn't co-star Seth Rogan, It's not worth watching.Published 4 months ago by Luke Cain
Not great, but quite interesting. Sometimes a bit hard to follow with past "flashbacks."Published 4 months ago by R. Fox