USA, 2010, 90 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Biography / History, Discrimination, Drama, Gay, Local Filmmakers / Subjects
Program: Closing Night
Language: English

DIRECTORS: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked… ” So starts the opening line of Howl in this highly-anticipated film about the early years of poet Allen Ginsberg. Academy Award winning documentarians Rob Epstein (The Times of Harvey Milk, Celluloid Closet) and Jeffrey Friedman (Celluloid Closet) bend genres to depict the spark of a literary revolution.

James Franco shines as a handsome young Allen Ginsberg, making waves with his poem, Howl. The film is a hybrid of stories, including the famous Ginsberg reading of Howl at the Six Gallery. It also includes an imagined recreation of an unpublished interview allegedly given to Time in 1957; Howl’s obscenity trial in a San Francisco courtroom; and vivid and luminous animation by Ginsberg collaborator Eric Drooker, capturing the essence of the poem. The extraordinary format adds to a feeling of restlessness, a sense that 1950s America is on the cusp of radical change,which are sentiments that saturate Ginsberg’s poetry. It’s awild ride of emotions aswe see the beginnings of Ginsberg’s relationship with his lover, Peter Orlovsky (Gossip Girl cutie Aaron Tveit) alongside the historic courtroom drama.

An impressive cast adds depth to this masterpiece of a film, including David Strathaim as the prosecutor and Jon Hamm (Mad Men) who’s brilliant as famed attorney Jake Ehrlich. Also making memorable appearances are Jeff Daniels, Mary-Louise Parker and Treat Williams. A minimalist score by Carter Burwell provides a rich supporting role in this fascinating portrait of an epic poem and its iconoclastic creator.

Text Voting Code: F116



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