Friday, 26 November 2010
Howl is a howl, of laughter or pain take your pick. Poetry made accessible to the masses is a nice idea (for more and frankly more interesting see: www.motionpoems.com) but the literalization of Ginsberg's poetry through less-than-inspiring animation by Eric Drooker was just too much for me. The film is a primer on how to take a great work of literature and banalize it beyond recognition. James Franco's performance was exceptional and he'll probably win an Academy Award or something for it but to me it felt like a lot of strutting and fretting for his 90 minutes upon the stage, full of sound and fury but, contrary to Ginsberg's poem, trying to Signify Something. (In the new year I will go see Derek Jacoby play King Lear at the Donmar and with any luck--and so far all signs positive--his performance of "howl, howl, howl" will redeem all.) The obscenity trial was a pretty flat courtroom dramitization. And even though the cameos were fantastic--Mary Louise Parker and Alessandro Nivola in particular--they could do just so much. My present infatuation (I have a feeling I'm not alone), Jon Hamm, sadly couldn't muster any kind of enthusiasm for his role. I thought perhaps the casting was wrong and that Hamm should have played the prosecution lawyer (David Straithairn did the best he possibly could) instead of the defense lawyer but I doubt that would have helped. The film will undoubtedly increase sales of Ginsberg's "Howl" so I suppose, then, "Howl: The Film" won't have been a total loss.