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Home » Film

Howl

Submitted by Commandrea on December 27, 2010 – 9:11 pmNo Comment
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Howl burst forth on the screen in the manner of its own free form insanity. Howl tells the story of the obscenity trial surrounding the publication of the titular long form poem by Allen Ginsberg (James Franco). But directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman have other fish to fry rather than just presenting a straight-ahead account of the events.
Franco certainly balances his nature boy portrayal in 127 Hours with his gay turn as Ginsberg. Much of the dialogue in Howl comes from Franco reciting the poem either in his apartment or performing in a club venue. Other dialogue intensive parts of the movie unfold in the San Franciscan courtroom, with the script taken directly from court transcripts. Actors playing the various lawyers and witnesses include Jeff Daniels, Mary-Louise Parker, Jon Hamm, David Strathairn, Treat Williams and Bob Balaban as the judge. Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady are also portrayed in the narrative that itself takes on a jazzy time shifting atmosphere.

Sometimes Howl lets the words take over and animates lengthy passages with abstract figures, not so much cartoon as pop art. There’s the occasional vintage newsreel clip of hep cats bopping. A phrase like “The narcotic haze of capitalism,” intones over images of swirling city buildings. Plainly Howl wants to be experimental and still appeal to an indie film crowd. It’s a balancing act Howl performs quite nicely.

Howl plays exclusively at the MFAH’s Brown Auditorium this week. Tuesday, December 28, 7:00 pm.; Wednesday, December 29, 7:00 pm.; Thursday, December 30, 7:00 pm.; Friday, December 31, 2:00 pm.; Saturday, January 1, 2:00 pm.; Sunday, January 2, 5:00 pm.

- Michael Bergeron

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