Howl, a review


Monday nights are a dearth of tv, it is well-known. As this is an indisputable fact, and as the Hub and I are want to relax on an autumn eve, we were meandering our merry way through the movies able to be demanded and came upon the shining face of James Franco, bespectacled in Buddy Holly glasses, speak shouting to a black and white bunch of teens high in a smoky basement. Well, yes, this is a movie for us, we said, buying.

Howl is the story of the obscenity trial of Allan Ginsberg’s 1955 poem, same name. In the text he chats about “angel-headed hipsters” and the loss of self and demon cities and insane asylums, but also of young painful love and sex and desire and life. For those of you who can, you should read it. For those of you who think you might be offended, you should read it (you will be, but it’s good for you).

James Franco is a more beautiful Ginsby than Ginsby himself, of course. Though hiding behind a terrible beard his gravely boy voice drives men to passions and women to quiver. Where I have always dismissed him (perhaps wrongly so) as the captain of the stoners he solidly delivers here, rising above himself (or my imagined definition of himself), acting.

As parts of the poem are read the screen bursts into multicolor animation, computer, showing the meaning of the words. It is almost erotic in its riot of symbolism. I say almost, but it is, in truth, very. Symbolism, yes, but also true erotica. Although it is maybe, probably, just so as seen through my perverse eyes.

The love that dare not speak its name is shouted here, without regret or apology, or thought of either. He speaks of love like a straight man, no fear of being judged or belittled or hurt. He lives, in this aspect, as I think life should be.  This aspect.

This film is worth it, for the way it makes you think. Or cringe. Or pant. As is the poem. Think, my friends. Widen your thoughts to things that make you uncomfortable or randy or angry or self-righteous. It won’t hurt.


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