Wednesday, 17 November 2010

HOWL (2010)

My, how the London Film Festival spoilt us this year with not one, but two, Beat Generation themed films. Following William S. Burroughs: A Man Within came Howl, a celebration of Allen Ginsberg’s landmark poem.

Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman weave a recreation of the 1955 Six Gallery debut reading (with help from Lawrence Ferlinghetti about how it looked); the obscenity trial court case (with the suave Jon Hamm playing the hip defense lawyer); Ginsberg interviews (nicely underplayed by James Franco); and an animation of the poem (which sounds horrible, well it does to me, but was okay).

All the dialogue is taken verbatim from the original court transcript; Ginsberg’s own interviews and “Howl” itself, which gives a strong documentary feel rather than that of a staged and scripted drama. Without being extremely picky there’s little to fault in it, so I won’t. You might take that for laziness and you might be right but even watching it tired, emotional and more than a little drunk (hence this flimsy - and late - review), I thought it interestingly made and thanks to the different styles and settings moves at a surprisingly brisk pace.

Howl is due for release in cinemas in February 2011.

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