Howl - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Howl Reviews

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½ November 15, 2016
I didn't like the animated segments and Franco's performance is a little iffy to me (that voice!), but there is real beauty here, too. I've always thought a lot of the Beat writing (maybe especially Howl) boils down to a buncha dudes trying to fuck Neal Cassady, but I actually cried at the Holy Holy Holy bit at the end.
September 4, 2016
Oh Victory, forget your underwear, we are free
April 11, 2016
'Howl (2010)' is an offbeat experimental historical film about Allen Ginsberg's 1956 poem "Howl," the subject of a highly-publicised obscenity trial on its initial publication. James Franco plays Ginsberg, the reluctantly homosexual poet who poured his fears and frustrations into a four-part magnum opus, deemed a masterpiece and an obscenity in equal measure. I haven't read all that much poetry (though I have been known to recite Poe's "The Raven" in my most Vincent Price-ish voice), but I did like Ginsberg's poem, which is lyrical and evocative in a manner resembling the songwriting of Tom Waits. Several computer-animated sequences attempt to ascribe visuals to Ginsberg's words, but I wasn't sure about these: the CGI animation seemed too clean, too ordered, to represent such inner torment. Worth seeing, but perhaps not for everyone.
½ March 12, 2016
The bar-raised experimental structure of Ginsberg's "Howl" poem is quite exquisite and proves itself to be essential to the English Lit department when exploring the poem line-by-line, while juxtaposed and synced with the biopic element, thus putting some depth to the poem despite some unappealing visuals. Franco's performance as the poet matches the aura of Jamie Foxx's performance in "Ray". (B)

(Full review coming soon)
January 14, 2016
A concise story of the life and controversies of Allen Ginsberg, portrayed through animation, faux interviews and court room recreation. The picture certainly has energy but it is also at times annoying especially with Franco's nasal voiceover.
January 3, 2016
The animated segments are a visual disaster. Franco is a pretty good Ginsberg. The movie both romanticises the context and doesn't. To be honest it could have been an hour and a half of poking around the set design of Ginsberg's apartment and I would have been more satisfied.
August 9, 2015
A mix of autobiography, court drama, and creative animation that visualizes the beautiful and gentle work of Ginsberg. Although he's not in every scene of the film, James Franco gives a terrific performance as Allen Ginsberg, embodying the intelligence, humor, and burning feelings of the Beat poet. The film is also about the freedom of speech and press, and shows the effects his work brought to the society. I found the court drama sequences riveting and some of the performances were quite fun to watch (refreshing to see Jon Hamm playing a good guy). I liked Epstein and Friedman's direction, beautiful black-and-white cinematography, and the animated adaptation of 'Howl and Other Poems'. This is not a movie for everyone, but if you are interested in literature and Ginsberg's life, give it a shot. Howl is a well-done experimental film, and I really enjoyed it.
½ August 4, 2015
Focusing on Alan Ginsberg's seminal poem "Howl". An interesting break down of the poem itself by James Franco. A look at the Beat Generation and societies attempt to silence that generation through Obscenity Laws. The 1950's, a real battleground period of free speech. From Joseph McCarty through the Anti-Rock and Roll rhetoric to this. What an uptight generation the 1950's were. I can't believe we want to go back.
June 29, 2015
An interesting take intercutting reconstructions of court appearances and trips across country with reconstructions of interviews and some contemporary bits of footage all surrounding the trial of Ginsberg's HOWL!.
Archaeology of a time now long gone... "I had a cold water apartment for $13 a month"... in MANHATTAN!!!
The overlapping of apparent "interviews", narrative storytelling and animation all swirls together in a rather lovely manner.
Great Sunday afternoon fare.
May 9, 2015
This film adapts several of the primary sources surrounding the publication of Allen Ginsberg's poem, Howl. These include the poem itself, as well as transcripts of the resulting obscenity trial and an interview with Ginsberg. Unfortunately, the materials are disparate enough that the whole is less than the sum of its parts. The animated sequences are inspired, but I've heard better readings of Howl. Worse yet, the movie devolves into courtroom melodrama; you've seen this before (The People vs. Larry Flynt, etc.).
May 1, 2015
Allen Ginsberg: "There's no beat generation. It's just a bunch of guys trying to get published."
½ April 7, 2015
About Beat-generation poet Allen Ginsberg. My fav scenes were the subtle but solid performances by Jon Hamm and David Straithairn in court, and also the gems when Treat Williams and Jeff Daniels took the stand.
April 6, 2015
I think this movie is often misunderstood by many people. I believe the movie focuses on three separate subjects: Ginsberg's life, the obscenity trial, and the poem itself. James Franco gives a great performance as Ginsberg, I heard he even started smoking. The other actors gave support, but they played their parts well. As it is this is an excellent movie that probably should go in order for people to understand it.
½ March 19, 2015
A decent stab at bringing poetry to the sliver screen in this part animated snippet of Allen Ginsberg's life during a public obscenity trail around the release of his most noteworthy work. The runtime is pretty brief as it allows the poetry to do a fair amount of the talking with Ginsberg's life playing almost second fiddle between the court hearings. James Franco does a fair job in a role that mostly requires him to recite poems to quite mesmerising looking music video style short films that I thought worked perfectly well. The fact that a series of poems needed to be brought to a court of law to decide whether or not to ban them from public circulation in a so-called free country to me is as utterly laughable as it is annoyingly true. And marks the fact that rich and powerful prudes even today still seem to have a say on things that don't concern their tiny, weak, and largely closed minds.
½ March 5, 2015
This did little for me. The animated portions just annoyed me as they were someone's interpretation of Gingsberg's piece and were slightly pornographic. Part of that is owed to the work they drew from, but also choice of the filmmakers and that did not appeal to me.
February 8, 2015
Loved this movie and the story that goes with it.
½ January 1, 2015
Howl is most successful when dealing with the trial of Lawrence Ferlanghetti over the publication of Alan Ginsburg's poem; least successful when trying to visualize said poem. James Franco is given the thankless task of trying to hold this jumble together, and does admirably, rarely letting his performance devolve into mere imitation.
½ December 14, 2014
Great performances but the script is too literal. Franco is mesmerizing.
December 2, 2014
It's artistic, bold, and James Franco delivers with sophistication.
November 17, 2014
Really, really well done! The weaving of the trial, the reading, and the interview works brilliantly! And Franco is near perfect as Ginsberg! The animation sequences are well done to! Bravo!
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