Howl: The Review

After the kids went to bed, I saw the movie Howl On Demand.

Based on the trailer, I wanted to like it more. James Franco does a great job matching the cadence and mannerisms of Allen Ginsberg. The movie, however, lacked a real plot. There are three stories: scenes of Ginsberg talking about "Howl," the obscenity court trial, and the animated segments of the poem. None of the three was worth the hour and 24 minutes I can't get back.

It would have been more interesting to do a deep dive into Ginsberg's life and lifestyle around the time "Howl" was written. The film heavily relies on animation to drive the story. But by the end, it felt as if the producers ran out of money to make the film they wanted and gave us this. I found the mix of animation and plot annoying, and when Howl ended my reaction was: So what?

I paid $6.99 to see the movie at home. Had I spent money for a sitter and $10 to watch it in a theater, I would have been livid.


evelyn.n.alfred said…
Well I'm glad you said something about this, because I wanted to see this movie too. I'll wait until it comes out on Netflix.
Collin Kelley said…
I've heard mixed reviews most of them leaning toward what you said here.
Jim K. said…
I saw the trailer and some clips.
Maybe the main theme is the
developing relationship between
Ginsberg and the audience. I
can hook into a few poems, but
not much overall. Tt seems
to end up unremarkable,
and that's the 'good stuff'.
It might be an age thing.
Should be interesting when a few
Ginsberg fanatics I know have
seen it.

I saw a video of sunflower sutra
by a teen on youtube. That
actually brought an understanding
I didn't have before. I should
look for more like that.

I try. :-)
January said…
"It seems to end up unremarkable,
and that's the 'good stuff'."

That's exactly how I felt. And don't get me wrong, I like animation with poetry, but I don't think it works as well in a movie like this.
Jennifer Jean said…
ginsberg's time spent institutinalized with carl soloman (dedicatee), and his family life--esp. with his bipolar mother--is so interesting and central to the making of the poem HOWL, i'm surprised they thought there wasn't enough to go over just in that part of his life. it's always interesting to see how a writer comes to believe what they convey in their (seminal) work--to SHOW this in a narrative is what movies do best...even if it would have been a subjective interpretation and selection of which events in his life led to the content in HOWL. i think i will end up net flixing it and have my hand on the fast foward button all the while. cut the viewing time to a third of the total.
January said…
Some of that is in there through flashbacks, Jennifer. But there is very little dialogue. It's mostly told from Ginsberg's perspective--he's talking to an off-screen recorder.

The whole movie fell flat for me, and I didn't learn anything I didn't know before.
jim said…
I'm trying to think of good movies that are based on poets.

Jane Campion's Bright Star about Keats. And then there's Il Postino, which glances off of Neruda.

About the Beats, there's a goofy docu-short called Pull My Daisy that I've seen.
Anonymous said…
I suggest the film "Before Night Falls" --Nancy

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