Screened as part of NZIFF 2010
In San Francisco in 1957 Allen Ginsberg’s epochal (and enduring) poem “Howl” was put on trial for obscenity. Ron Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Life and Times of Harvey Milk) have made an intelligent, impassioned, multi-layered film about the trial, the poem and the poet as harbingers of social revolution in America. James Franco is uncannily right as the young Ginsberg. The film is built around his marvellous reading of the poem, seemingly unrehearsed, buoyed by an enthusiastic audience and the incantatory scramble of the poet’s words. Re-enacted scenes from the trial succinctly spell out the still-resonant debates. In an imagined interview Ginsberg muses on his own creative process and personal struggles. Passages from the poem are interpreted in bold, hallucinatory sequences of animation. — BG.
“[The filmmakers’] passion for Ginsberg’s genius and their excitement over trying to deconstruct a literary master work is contagious.” — Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter