Movie-a-Day Challenge: Howl

howl movie posterThis post is part of my movie-a-day challenge in which I will watch a film every day for 365 days. Today is Day 244! You can see all the posts for this challenge HERE. To see the original Movie-a-Day Challenge post, click HERE.

Hey there, friends!

So, I finally got around to watching “Howl,” directed by the dynamite duo Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you’re in for a treat, especially if you dig poetry or have a soft spot for the beat generation. “Howl” is not your run-of-the-mill biopic; it’s a creative whirlwind that captures the essence of Allen Ginsberg’s groundbreaking poem and its impact.

First, let’s talk about James Franco. Guys, he embodies Ginsberg with such eerie precision—it’s like he channeled the man’s soul. Franco delivers lines with a raw, magnetic energy that totally transports you back to 1950s America, a time when speaking your truth was often met with raised eyebrows and even a court gavel. The scenes where he’s reciting the poem? Absolutely mesmerizing. You can feel the frustration and passion vibrating in the air.

The film uses this cool blend of black-and-white and color sequences, and then there are these wild animated sequences that roll out like a trippy, shadowy dream. These bits visualize parts of the poem, and honestly, it’s like stepping inside Ginsberg’s mind during a feverish dream. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher at times, but that’s kind of the point, right? Art is supposed to challenge us. There’s a scene with a saxophone wailing in the background, and the smoky haze just makes you want to snap your fingers like they did in those old poetry readings.

Speaking of challenges, the obscenity trial is a major part of the movie. You’ve got David Strathairn, playing the prosecutor, who’s all stiff and starchy, trying to prove that “Howl” is obscene. And then there’s Jon Hamm, the dapper Don Draper himself, plays the lawyer defending the poem’s publisher with a smooth-as-butter demeanor. Seeing him in a courtroom instead of a smoky bar is a bit of a shock, but he’s as smooth as ever.

The trial scenes are intense, showing how “Howl” was seen as a threat to the establishment. Those courtroom exchanges are a fascinating look at the societal norms of the time, and they pose this big question: what is art and who gets to decide what’s too bold? It’s a reminder that art can be a powerful force for change.

Now, this movie isn’t for everyone. It’s experimental, it’s poetic, and it definitely makes you think. But if you’re into literature, history, or just want to see something different, give it a shot. You might be surprised by how much it resonates with you.

But what really stuck with me after watching “Howl” is how it captures the spirit of rebellion and the need to be heard. It’s about more than just a poem; it’s about fighting for the right to express oneself, about art shaking up the status quo. And while the film takes some artistic liberties (like all biopics do), it succeeds in making you feel connected to that restless energy of the Beats.

So yeah, whether you’re a poetry newbie or someone who can recite “Howl” by heart, there’s something magnetic about seeing this slice of literary history come to life. Plus, who can resist a throwback to when coffee houses were filled with cigarette smoke and fierce ideas, not just laptop screens and latte art? IMHO, this is also the kind of movie that’s meant to be experienced, not just understood.

Who knows? “Howl” may suddenly give you the urge to write, or at least read a bit of Ginsberg. Either way, it’s good!

Catch you later,

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