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Howl
BLU-RAY disk
02.01.2011 By: J.A. Hamilton
Howl order download
Director:
Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

Actors:
James Franco
Jon Hamm
David Strathairn

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
This film is part documentary, part trial, part re-telling of the life and times of poet Allen Ginsberg and the outrage/scandal set back in the uptight fifties when his three part work HOWL hit the streets chalked full of sexuality and obscenities.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
As a film critic Iím always optimistic and take on each film I review with an open mind as the gray area between black and white is much vaster than people realize but as a writer (I write psychological thriller) I was able to view HOWL much more clearly. I donít care much for poetry, I never have. Though I do respect it as an art form, I consider it to be the bottom or the barrel when it comes to the writing world simply because there are those who ignore what it was intended to be (a wondrous collection of prose designed to illustrate and recount a beautiful story or vocalize a magical theme) and replace it with mindless driven that often times makes no real sense to the writer let alone the reader. This is how I felt about HOWL, I listened with an open mind but in the end I have to agree with the prosecution on this one.

The one thing I did enjoy about this film was the trial (I love a good trial, especially when both the defence and the prosecution go all out A FEW GOOD MEN style). Sure, this film lacks the intense substance of A FEW GOOD MEN but it was there in spirit. Jon Hamm is a fantastic actor; he did a bang up job in THE TOWN and similarly carries himself well here. The guyís got talent and I hope he gets the recognition he deserves. I also really dig James Franco and feel he did good job at portraying Allen Ginsberg even if I didnít care for what this story was about or where it went. I respect when actors hit the drama road in hopes of testing their metal and as far as Iím concerned he did just that and I applaud his efforts but that doesnít mean itís a good movie.

HOWL no doubt succeeds when it comes to shedding proper light on the life and trials of Allen Ginsberg but when push came to shove I was so bogged down by the way they continued to shove his idiotic rant down my gullet that I just couldnít bring myself to care. There were moments when I felt that maybe I was being too harsh, I mean shit, Iíll admit to writing a poem or two in High School to woo chicks but thereís a difference between heartfelt prose and rambling. Then thereís the fact that Ginsberg himself admits to throwing in homosexual remarks just because he could and found the idea of it rather amusing. The entire trial was based around the question of whether or not he needed to be so blunt and raw, yet he openly admits to going out of his way to make it so destroying his integrity on the matter in my eyes. Iím sure some people will hail this film and call the man a genius but I strongly disagree.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary: James Franco joins Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman as they go through the film and talk poetry. Itís obvious here (as it was in the film) that Franco is a fan of Ginsburg and really loved the script.

Holy! Holy! Holy! The Making of Howl: Here we see in detail a lot of Ginsburgís work and the lengths the cast and crew went to pay homage. The Holy, Holy, Holy stuff was a bit much for me.

Directorís Research Tapes: Here we have a collaboration of Ginsburgís closest friends and peers giving us insight into the manís work which helped shape the film.

Allen Ginsburg reads at the Knitting Factory: Much like it sounds we get Ginsburg doing a poetry reading.

James Franco reads Howl: Also just as it sounds we have James Franco reading the three part poem Howl. I will say this, Franco sounds genuine, like it wrote it all himself.

Q&A with Directors: Directors Epstein and Friedman sit down with John Cameron Mitchell for some interview questions about the film at the Provincetown Film Festival.

Previews: There are a couple trailers as well as a DVD COPY of the film.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I know there are those who feel the same way I do but there will be just as many who disagree. Again, as a writer I feel I have a deeper routed opinion when it comes to the subtext of this film but in the end itís only my opinion. For the record though, I do enjoy poetry on occasion and my favourite poem is BOTH SIDES NOW by Joni Mitchell.
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5:20PM on 02/01/2011
It sounds like, from your review, that you didn't like the movie because you didn't like the poem that it's about, or poetry in general? I'm more curious about how the story of the movie actually plays out, I could care less about the poem or poetry as an art form when I'm about to see a movie.
It sounds like, from your review, that you didn't like the movie because you didn't like the poem that it's about, or poetry in general? I'm more curious about how the story of the movie actually plays out, I could care less about the poem or poetry as an art form when I'm about to see a movie.
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