Howl (the film)

I just watched this over the course of two nights. I don’t think James Franco is a bad actor. In fact, I’ve liked him since he was on Freaks and Geeks. But I don’t feel he was a good choice to play the role of Ginsberg. I found the film lacking emotional depth, assuming the recitation of the poem over its course would serve that role, but the recitation is almost like a caricature of Ginsberg and lacks his humanity. I found myself muting these sequences and just watching Eric Drooker’s animation, silent. In the bonus features of the DVD, we get interviews with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Peter Orlovsky, Drooker and others, and these are great, probably more worth watching than the film. We also get a never-before-seen 1995 reading of Howl by Ginsberg at the Knitting Factory, which shows every bit of his humanity, and humility, as he’s forced to repeat lines several times after botching them while attempting to read them with the highest level of emotion.

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