Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Howl


James Franco plays Allen Ginsburg, the poet, in this art house courtroom drama based on a true story, now available on DVD.  In 1955, Ginsburg presented a poem called 'Howl'.  The publisher was put on trial for whether or not 'Howl' was considered obscene.  Jon Hamm and David Strathairn play the attorneys, Bob Balaban plays the judge, and Mary-Louise Parker, Jeff Daniels, and Treat Williams all give testimony at the trial.

I had heard lukewarm things about this one and so was a bit concerned it might not be that good.  But James Franco hadn't let me down yet, and the cast is pretty top notch, so I figured I'd give it a go.  And as usual, Franco's performance is quite good, and the rest of the cast is what you'd expect.  But the film is very slow, as Ginsburg's enigmatic poem is dissected and debated ad nauseum.  I won't spoil the court's findings, but I do find this film guilty of being a bore.  Skip it unless poetry is your bag or you're a major Franco-phile.

Grade: C-

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