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Film Review: Howl

Mon 19 Jul 2010 In: Movies View at NDHA

Howl Director: Rob Epstein Year: 2009 Running time: 90 mins Censor Rating: M – Content May Disturb Festivals: Sundance, Berlin 2010 James Franco as Allen Ginsberg It is so much easier to review a film or book that one dislikes. I loved Howl, from start to end. The directors (Rob Epstein a recreation of an interview with Ginsberg while living in New York in the same year; and a beautifully re-telling of parts of the poem itself against the background of a vivid piece of animation. James Franco, perhaps best known for his role as Harry Osborn in Spiderman, plays Ginsberg, a more physically beautiful Ginsberg than the real one for sure, but he plays him convincingly, especially as he is reading ‘Howl' and brings out the humour and joy that are in the poem. The court case is at times hilarious, as po-faced literature experts are asked to explain the merit, or otherwise, of phrases such as “who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists and screamed with joy, who blew and were blown by those human seraphim the sailors…” Did I mention that Ginsberg was a homo? This is also a central thread, his personal road to understanding that it is ok to love men, and that it is good to say this out loud, that this will make it easier for others. Remember, this is in the latter half of the 1950s, in a deeply conformist America where any kind of sex was not talked about openly, let along the joys of getting fucked up the ass. And his love for his life partner, Peter Orlovsky, comes through as well, and is portrayed with a tenderness and joy that will warm your heart. Yes he writes about sex, but he writes about love as well – and this comes through in the film. This film is worth seeing not just because of the gay bits, but because it's well-acted, it's well-written, it looks and feels good and they capture the attitudes of an era that has gone, that seems so alien to our own world today, but is really not all that far away in time. - Michael Stevens Howl is showing at the New Zealand International Film Festival,click here for more information Michael Stevens - 19th July 2010    

Credit: Michael Stevens

First published: Monday, 19th July 2010 - 11:46am

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