Howl (2010) English (Drama) Rated “R” Runtime- 84 min. dir. Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
If you’re not familiar with it, “Howl” is a poem written in 1955 by Allen Ginsberg that led to an very publicized obscenity trial in 1957. After the first public reading by Ginsberg, and the following trial, the popularity of the piece exploded, making it one of the most popular poems of the Beat generation.
The major events of the trial are presented alongside a depiction of Ginsberg’s performance of the poem. This does a good job of making both parts of the story interesting, without watering down either.
James Franco as Ginsberg leads all of the non-courtroom scenes perfectly, and you can tell he read the source material quite a bit. Jon Hamm is in top form, playing the defense attorney Jake Ehrlich during the trial.
It seems that they were relying on the animated scenes (which I’ll talk about in a sec) to carry the weight of visual interest.
Really cool animation style that lends a lot to the poem for those who may not be lyrically advanced. It isn’t necessarily a word-for-word depiction, but it definitely has a bead on the overall tone of each segment.
It has a lot going for it, including pretty good climactic action, but ultimately ends up being perhaps a little too cryptic for those without background in the topic.
A great character piece with awesome special visual effects, worth a watch if you want either.