February 2, 2011
Directors: Robert Epstein & Jeffrey Freidman
Writers: Robert Epstein & Jeffrey Freidman
Starrin: James Franco, Jon Hamm, David Strathairn
"I saw the best minds of my generation, destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, naked..." The titular poem is explored in a trifecta: through a series of animations of the text, its author Allen Ginsberg (Franco) being interviewed about his life story, and the 1957 obscenity trial over its publication.
Howl is a very different film from the standard film in the multiplex. Depictions of the past are black and white, the trial in brownish tones, and the interview is in blues. Those parts are all fairly straightforward, and Hamm and Strathairn are very reminiscent of their roles in Mad Men and Good Night and Good Luck. However, Franco's version of Ginsberg is spot-on, and literally could not be better. The movie truly shines with the onscreen version of Ginsberg's titular poem, though. The man's magnus opus is shown with images as beautiful as his words, in a plethora of animation styles. While it's certainly not mainstream, it's a stellar picture. A+