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IN SHORT: For collegiates. Or gays who survived "the plague." [Not Rated . 84 minutes]
]It is the stuff of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of college papers: the sociological study of the generational clash in the decade following World War II. Said clash pits the greying generation who grew during the Depression and came to manhood during the "Good War" against those young enough to have seen a different kind of deprivation caused by fighting that good war; they saw a different kind of war in Korea. As this disillusioned generation returned they found an America defined by television shows like Father Knows Best and other formulaic depictions of what American Life was supposed to be. A priest named Fulton Sheen commanded large teevee audiences while his competion -- a man named Milton Berle, partial to dressing in drag, spewed old jokes provided comedy. The comedy, of course, is that no "man" would wear a dress.
No man wears a dress in Howl, but this recreation of a trial to determine whether a nice Jewish boy from New Jersey's book of narrative poems featuring graphic descriptions of body parts and implications of various kinds of "unnatural" sex -- the first time any written material depicting a homosexual lifestyle had grabbed the attention of the "reg'lar Joe" audience -- was obscene. Howl was poet Allen Ginsberg's (James Franco) literal scream of coming out against the cookie cutter Fifties. It was the first blast in what could be called the "we're here, we're queer" generation -- said generation would pretty much find its end in the plague of the mid nineteen eighties but that's another story.
Publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti (), himself a famed poet, stood trial but, in this recreation, never speaks a word. .Ralph McIntosh (David Straithairn ) portrays the prosecuting attorney, a man baffled by the need to use such graphic language to document alleged lives of dust motes in the back of humanity;s closet. Jake Erlich (John Hamm) stands for the defense with the well worn First Amendment defense.. Judge Clayton Horn (Bob Balaban) wears the judicial robes and will make the decision which should be well known by now to anyone who has passed over this material in history class.
The screenplay begins and flashes back to a recreation of the firHowl and its related poems is complemented by animation which takes those readings into the visual plane that smokey basement rooms and cups of expresso helped to create in the minds of those who experience the readings first hand. , concocted from a recreation of the original reading of the trial transcripts, a "lost" interview done in Rome by Time Magazine with Ginsberg and recreated "readings" of portions of
Along the way we cross paths with the friends and lovers of Mr Ginsberg, the cornerstones of the Beat Movement: Jack Kerouac (Todd Rotondi), Neal Cassady (Jon Prescott) and Ginsberg's lover, Peter Orlovsky (Aaron Tveit).
literary experts played by Jeff Daniels, Mary-Louise Parker, Treat Williams and Alessandro Nivola
animation designer Eric Drooker ]
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Howl, he would have paid . . .
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