Monday, December 6, 2010
Right off the bat, I want to say I am a huge Ginsberg fan. I've read Howl and Other Poems several times, as well as Kaddish. I also read some of his latter, not as popular poems, as well as a biography. Like many young gay boys, reading Ginsberg was a revelation for me.
Most movies about writers and writing are never actually about the writing itself. They focus on the writer's life, including lovers, friends, and possibly what drove them to write/ be crazy/ whatever salacious details are available.
Howl is not like that. Much of the movie is the author reciting "Howl" as animation illuminates the poem. This is intercut between three different scenes: Allen Ginsburg reciting the poem at a bar, Ginsburg being interviewed about the poem, and the trial against City Light Books for publishing "pornography." The movie jumped around a lot, but was the pace wasn't too much that I could not keep up.
James Franco continues to impress me as an actor. Even though I like Franco, I was hesitant when I heard he was playing Ginsburg. However, James had obviously studied Ginsberg's mannerisms and the way he spoke intensely. His portrayal was really seamless.
My biggest issue with the film was minor to the film but major to Ginsberg's life. The movie portrays him as having a very loving relationship with Peter Orvolsky. While they were together a long time, they actually had a very tumultuous open relationship. But as one of my friends pointed out, it made an nice arc for the movie. I also feel like some of the animation moved rather quickly and I didn't get the full effect. It might be better having sat through multiple viewings.
Great movie, definitely worth the trip to the theater. 4 and half stars.