Howl Approved

Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Freidman‘s Howl, which premiered tonight at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, isn’t half bad. Why did I just say that? It’s better than that — it’s an indie, artsy, half-animated dream-cream movie that’s basically an instructional primer for the uninitiated about what a wonderfully seminal and influential poem Allen Ginsberg‘s Howl was and is.

It’s brisk, condensed, in some ways florid, engaging, intellectually alert and stimulating. You know what this thing is? It’s a gay Richard Linklater movie, only deeper and more trippy. It’s an half-animated exploration thing that contains scenes of actors reading and “being,” but in no way is this a movie that plays like a movie. It’s something else, and that’s a good thing for me.

Howl is a “small” film, but it’s rather wonderful and joyful in the particulars.

Howl is not a narrative feature — it’s a near-documentary that says “stop what you’re doing and consider what a cool poem Howl was…in fact, let us take you through the whole thing and show and tell you how cool and illuminating it is.” It uses Waltz With Bashir-like animation to illuminate what Howl was in Ginsberg’s head when he wrote it, and what the poem’s more sensitive readers might have seen in their heads when they first read it.

James Franco “plays” Ginsberg quite fully, particularly and well — he gets the slurring speech patterns and pours a mean cup of tea as he’s explaining a point to a journalist — but Franco, good as he is, is subordinate to (or should I say in harmony with?) the basic ambition of the film, which is to inform, instruct, awaken, turn on.

For me, Ian McKellen‘s “Acting Shakespeare” was a somewhat similar experience. An accomplished British actor explaining and double-defining the joy and transcendent pleasure of performing, feeling and really knowing deep down what Shakespeare’s poetry really means, and has meant to him all his life.

I’ve read Howl one a half times, but only now do I feel I really know it.

  • Gaydos

    I’ve seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by Spice Girl musicals, starving, hysterical, naked, dragging themselves through the David Hasselhoff reality shows at dawn, searching for an angry fix.

    Sorry, I was reading today’s Variety and thinking about Allen’s essential role in my own formative years.

    And how I hope some other blue collar idiot kid out there is saved from our “culture” by a movie like this.

    Will you thank the filmmakers for me?

  • Edward

    Well said, Gaydos.

  • DeeZee

    Jeff: So it’s a less pretentious version of Chicago 10?

  • nemo

    God. A central work of 20th century American culture reduced to “a less pretentious version of Chicago 10.”

    Clang! Clang-ang-ang-ang-ang-…

  • corey3rd

    How many times during the film does Allen ask someone to blow him? Every time someone tells me about hanging with Allen, the story always ends Allen asking, “So, are you going to blow me?”

  • drbob

    ” . . . . dream-cream movie.”

    I’ve read this sentence several times and I still have no idea what you mean by “dream-cream movie,” even in the context of the other descriptors you use.

  • drbob

    P.S. I don’t think googling “dream-cream” will give me the answer I’m looking for.

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    Probably not, although you will likely find someone asking to be blown.

    Doubtful it’s Allen Ginsberg, however.

  • DavidF

    Tell us what we REALLY want to know – does Franco play him JEWY enough?

    Does he get nekkid and, if so, is he authentically circumcised?

  • Eloi Manning

    I thought Franco was Jewish?

    A glance at Wiki tells me he has a Jewish mother.

  • http://martiansattackingindianapolis.blogspot.com Josh Massey

    David Cross must cry every time he sees something about this movie.

  • Mgmax, le Corbeau

    “It uses Waltz With Bashir-like animation to illuminate what Howl was in Ginsberg’s head when he wrote it, and what the poem’s more sensitive readers might have seen in their heads when they first read it.”

    This makes it sound like a gay beatnik episode of Wishbone.

  • DavidF

    I was being ironic as the last couple of times there have been HOWL threads one or two people have bemoaned the casting of James Franco to play Ginsberg given that the latter is Jewish.

    Eloi, you are correct that Franco is too but that seems to fly over some heads.

  • Ronald McFirbank

    “It uses Waltz With Bashir-like animation to illuminate what Howl was in Ginsberg’s head when he wrote it, and what the poem’s more sensitive readers might have seen in their heads when they first read it.”

    This makes it sound like a gay beatnik episode of Wishbone.

  • BurmaShave

    James Dean, Allen Ginsberg, who does Franco play next to hit the ’50s trifecta, Adlai Stevenson?

  • pricila12

    God. A central work of 20th century American culture reduced to “a less pretentious version of Chicago 10.” identity theft

  • doublexjohn

    Thanks for sharing the information dude. I found the information very helpful. That’s a awesome article you posted. I will come back to read some more. identity theft services

  • mstf

    Thank you very much for this information.

    Good post thanks for sharing.

    I like this site ;)

    ———–

    web tasarim web tasarim

    sohbet sohbet odalari

    horlama horlama tedavisi

    cet cet

    sohbet odalari sohbet odalari

    mirc mirc

    cam balkon cam balkon

    otomatik kapi otomatik kapi

    Gurcata lambasi Gurcata lambasi

    ———–

  • sexy12

    What’s with the ‘hiring a shamus’ bit if your spouse is a cheatin’? If you have good reason to suspect infidelity, good enough to shell out on some flat foot, there is only one person you should be speaking to. identity theft protection

  • pooh12

    How many times during the film does Allen ask someone to blow him? Every time someone tells me about hanging with Allen, the story always ends Allen asking, “So, are you going to blow me?”HostMonster Hosting Review

  • jack444

    I’ve seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by Spice Girl musicals, starving, hysterical, naked, dragging themselves through the David Hasselhoff reality shows at dawn, searching for an angry fix. internet fax

  • onlineheadshop

    Rob Epstein, also credited as Robert P. Epstein (born April 6, 1955, New Jersey, USA) is an non-fiction filmmaker, director, producer, writer and editor.

    social bookmarking

  • northface
  • blue heeler puppies

    It is an awesome blog for learning some great things from this blog. I really like this blog and I appreciate you for this informative blog.The Shih Tzucomes from China and may be the mix with the Pekingese and also the Lhasa Apso.

  • http://www.hotelle.com istanbulhotel
  • http://www.bodyvibrodynamic.com regie0822

    How many times during the film does Allen ask someone to blow him? Every time someone tells me about hanging with Allen, the story always ends Allen asking, “So, are you going to blow me?”

  • http://www.bodyvibrodynamic.com vibration exercise machines

    What’s with the ‘hiring a shamus’ bit if your spouse is a cheatin’? If you have good reason to suspect infidelity, good enough to shell out on some flat foot, there is only one person you should be speaking to

  • youtube converter mp4

    Thanks for your patience and sorry for the inconvenience!

    Best regards, Mary, CEO of convert youtube videos to mp3 and aix iscsi configuration

  • http://www.toshophandbags.com cheap designer handbags

    This was done by adorning them with Replica Designer Handbags embroidery and jewels. After the Egyptians, they were not really heard of until the 16th century. By this time, women wallets handbags were being made with Cheap Replica Handbags leather, with a drawstring on top as

    cheap handbags the closure. During the 17th century, embroidery was the sought after attribute, and this gave rise to amazing, stitched purses that are still coveted by some today.

  • http://www.toshophandbags.com cheap designer handbags

    it’s a near-documentary that says “stop what you’re doing and consider what a cool poem Howl was…

    If a person wishes to know when the first Fake Handbags handbag made its appearance, then they mens wallets should look no further than the Egyptians. Hieroglyphs are great record keepers, and according to them,

    a type of tote Replica designer handbags bag was tied to a “girdle” that went

    Replica designer handbagsaround the waist. In order to show their status in life, the bags were often made as elaborately as possible.

  • kerry

    Thanks for your patience and sorry for the inconvenience

    Best regards,Jane, CEO of storage area network diagram

  • jpierce47

    Howl was an excellent movie but I was a little disappointed at the end.

    -Jess @Fire Hose

  • http://www.cheap-shoes-online.org replica designer handbags

    A great post but How to select a cool shoes. we sell cheap shoes We are the best store provided various cheap designer shoes but only a little white to make coach shoes online

  • http://www.canadagooseestore.com/ reniaanne
  • calbill

    Wonderful post. I am searching awesome news and idea. What I have found from your site, it is actually highly content. You have spent long time for this post. It’s a very useful and interesting site. Thanks!

    Buy Ritalin Online

  • pioneer

    The idea behind this article is excellent, and for me the first item (“Create your own damn content!”) is the real gem here: most of the people spend their entire lives only consuming what is created by others, and creating nothing themselves–or never sharing what they create, which is better than not creating at all, though not the best they could do.

    Buy Valium Online

  • http://xpresstex.com.au/it-for-home/ harry

    Hey your collection is outstanding,I never see such a type of collection before.Thanks for sharing it with us.keep it up

    Computer virus removals Melbourne

  • http://xpresstex.com.au/it-for-home/ kteen

    You provided a valuable service to the community. Thank you for doing such a great job all these years.
    on site virus removals melbourne

  • pioneer

    I was delighted to find this web site.I wanted to thank you for your time reading this wonderful! I really enjoyed every bit of it and I’ve marked to ensure that the blog post something new.

    buy adderall online

  • harry

    Hi there,
    You have done really nice job. There are many people searching about that now they will find enough sources by your tips.

    moving to Washington

  • calbill

    I was working and suddenly I visits your site frequently and recommended it to me to read also. The writing style is superior and the content is relevant. Thanks for the insight you provide the readers!
    Pakistani Restaurant in Melbourne

  • harry

    you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great
    replace ignition

  • harry

    I am so happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that’s at the other blogs. Thanks for sharing this
    Ignition lock

  • harry

    Great article, very interesting and useful for me. Thanks
    car locksmith

  • harry

    Congratulation for the great post. Those who come to read your article will find lots of helpful and informative tips.
    online home loans

  • harry

    I am so glad this internet thing works and your article really helped me. Might take you up on that home advice you
    online home mortgage

  • harry

    The positive comments and do well wishes are very motivational and greatly appreciated.
    dallas car service

  • Bill

    Very efficiently written information. It will be beneficial to anybody who utilizes it, including me. Keep up the good work. For sure i will check out more posts. This site seems to get a good amount of visitors.
    change locks

  • Bill

    Your site is good Actually, i have seen your post and That was very informative and very entertaining for me. Thanks for posting Really Such Things. I should recommend your site to my friends. Cheers.
    rug cleaning washington dc

  • Bill

    With the many blogs which I have encountered, I never expected to see a very beautiful post online..After reading this one, I felt so lucky to see its content..-)
    change locks on new house

  • Bill

    The best site online pharmacy which gives us good information about the medicines.. and its cheap too..
    change locks on car