Sunday, February 20, 2011

HOWL - dvd review



If you love poetry and  Allen Ginsberg, I'm sure you've seen this film, already. But if you are like me, who lives in the heartland America..well, they don't make it easy to see films like this.

Honestly, the movie is bold with animation and color. Yet, still gives the vividness of the 1950's, the era of Ginsberg and the generation he lived in.

I did wonder if that was a SHARPIE beard


This was long before the life of the Internet and the connections of texting. It was a time when you better feel your words at the touch of the clickity-click of the type-writer. This film is said to be a documentary. Real words taken from people at that time. It was a time when Ginsberg's (James Franco) work HOWL was on trial. Was it really literature? Or just obscene? But as we know, it has stood the test of time. And each generation finds a new awakening in his words. He brings to light how his homosexuality was dealt with as a mental disease. Yet his world melts with the plight of man. His poetry is a beat of its own drummer. Yes, he speaks of his own heros and yet there is a reality of how our country found its own normal from war to advertizing.

The cast is made up of an amazing bunch. From John Hamm, Treat Williams, Jeff Daniels, and many others. The film its self is of brilliant forms of color. It is cuts in parts of conversations with the poet, the era, the trial, and the vivid imagination going through the poet's mind. After all HOWL is the poem that rocked a generation so why not pull out all the stops.


Truth be told though, I would have loved to seen the movie just a bit more up, close and personal. How exactly Ginsberg met his life partner Peter Orlovsky played sweetly by Aaron Tveit. As it was Ginsberg had fallen in love several times with many straight men. He'd ended up in a psych ward, but thankfully never went under shock treatments for his homosexuality as one friend he'd met during that ordeal.

This really is an interesting film. Parts of the trial will make you smile, thinking how ridiculous it was to put something like this on trial. Yet, to be thankful that in America we do have our freedoms of speech.


STORYLINE: It's San Francisco in 1957, and an American masterpiece is put on trial. Howl, the film, recounts this dark moment using three interwoven threads: the tumultuous life events that led a young Allen Ginsberg to find his true voice as an artist, society's reaction (the obscenity trial), and animation that echoes the poem's surreal style. All three coalesce in hybrid that dramatizes the birth of a counterculture.

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