4- Howl [4.0]

The story of how the young poet’s seminal work broke down societal barriers in the face of an infamous public obscenity trial. In his famously confessional style, Ginsberg – poet, counter-culture icon, and chronicler of the Beat Generation – recounts the road trips, love affairs, and search for personal liberation that led to HOWL, the most timeless work of his career.

For full disclosure, Howl is my favorite piece of poetry. That’s why it disappoints me so that this film was such a mess. James Franco has little to work with, and appears lost in trying to capture Ginsberg’s spirit. Jon Hamm is in Don Draper-mode as Ginsberg’s defensive attorney and general voice of the freethinking person. The biggest missteps are the animated sequences that attempt to give life to the jazzy freeform of the poem. Don’t let the film discourage you from checking out Ginsberg’s work.

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