Mike. 23. Accounting major. NYC. We can talk about films, books, and music all day.


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HOWL: Holy, Holy, Holy!

HOWL is another James Franco’s indie movie last year. Thank to 127 Hours hot buzz, this movie didn’t have a chance to spread its wings. Here is my take on the movie to see if you’ll like the poem and poet too.

I didn’t know a single thing about the poem, Howl and the master mind behind it Allen Ginsberg before I viewed this movie. Although I tried to read a couple of things to get my understanding before I started to see this to help me along the way. I expected this to be a biographical movie of Allen Ginsberg and to know what was happening back then about the controversy when the poem came out.

James Franco as Ginsberg really embodies the character very well although there’s not enough screen time to see him work it out even more beside seeing him being interviewed and looking at his past with his lovers, college experience, and his first time reading out Howl. This is caused by the amount of time used for the illustration of the poem interpretation. We see him relaxing in his apartment being asked about his opinions and his background. It really gives us an amount of light of what he’s like and what he has in mind for his works. So I must say the short screen time still really does him justice.

The story goes to another place that takes place in a court where Jon Hamm plays as Ginsberg’s attorney and David Strathairn is the prosecuting attorney. Witnesses are called upon the stage to give their statements and being asked for their opinions of the poem and Ginsberg himself, such as Mary Louise Parker, Alessandro Nivola, and Jeff Daniels. We can see and judge that by looking at these attorneys performance that the prosecuting attorney has some judgmental issues with the poem content where he expresses it as too explicit, vulgar, obscene, and uses some unnecessary words. It also show when the defense attorney investigating some of the witnesses, he is intimidated by his opponent wide knowledge of poetry and wise choice of digging some witnesses weakness. Needless to say, the judge decided to give statement where the poem Howl is not found obscene.

This film has its own strength where the illustration of the poem while Franco reads the poem, we can understand at least what the poem is telling although we can’t know for sure what it is referring to. The witnesses can give their own opinions about the poem but clearly no one can say one is doing injustice or felony by creating a poem that can be interpreted by anyone in any means while only the author can tell the truth what it is all about, just like judge says that there is still freedom of expression in this country therefore we can’t force it to change the words or sentences that can cause to lessen its meaning.

The movie is balance in telling the story of the poem’s controversy and the life of Allen Ginsberg including his journey in finding his lovers where he encountered some love life with his college mates. We can enjoy Franco’s performance where he answers the questions so honestly and freely. Also where he’s reading for the first time the poem Howl so eagerly and intense along with the warm but strong reception from his friends at the reading.

There’s nothing wrong in this movie although I can only wish that the movie could’ve been longer to tell us more.


  1. aneducation posted this