Saturday, February 27, 2016

Howl (2010)

Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

Writers: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

Composer: Carter Burwell

Starring: James Franco, Todd Rotondi, Jon Prescott, Aaron Tveit, David Strathairn, Jon Hamm, Andrew Rogers, Bob Balaban, Mary-Louise Parker, Treat Williams, Jeff Daniels

More info:  IMDb

Tagline: The Obscenity Trial That Started a Revolution. The Poem That Rocked a Generation.

Plot: As Allen Ginsberg talks about his life and art, his most famous poem is illustrated in animation while the obscenity trial of the work is dramatized.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I know little about the works of Ginsberg so this picture won't have as much of an effect on me as it would on someone familiar with his writings.  The film's story is told from the telling of Ginsberg (Franco), the trial (I really want Jon Hamm on my side in court), Ginsberg in flashback at a poetry reading which includes some neat animation.  Franco isn't as solid as he needed to be.  He comes across like an actor reciting lines rather than the words flowing from his mouth as they come to him like they would in conversation.  He does much better during the poetry readings.  I realize how trite this sounds but Franco's facial hair looked pretty bad, as in either fake or it was darkened a lot.  Perhaps if I spent some time with Ginsberg's poem this film is based on the movie would resonate more soundly.  The Oscilloscope DVD has a few extras with a commentary from Franco and the directors, a making of featurette (40 minutes), interviews the directors conducted with Ginsberg's close friends and collaborators (29 minutes), Ginsberg reading Howl in 1995 (25 minutes), Franco's reading (audio only) of the same poem (25 minutes) and trailers for 3 Oscilloscope films including this one.

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