Thursday “Howl”

6 Jan

I have been really busy at work, so when I get home, I am tired and a little brain dead. The brain death is further fostered by this chest cold that began as a sore throat and has not migrated into my chest. I see a lot of coughing in my future.

I am still figuring out bells and whistles here at wordpress. It took me a little while to realize I have to approve comments before they show. But overall, it is a pretty smooth blog platform.

Last night we watched the movie “Howl” starring James Franco. You might suspect that James Franco turns into a werewolf in a movie called “Howl” but actually he portrays a poet named Allen Ginsburg who wrote a poem called “Howl”. I can see how one might get confused. I can imagine the disappointment about 5 minutes into the movie–“I thought this was gonna be a werewolf movie but he don’t look inclined to transform to me!”

I liked “Howl” but I was an English major and we pretty much like any movie that makes writers the hero, especially writers of literature. It is an unusual movie in that the screenwriter did not write original dialogue for the film. Instead he relied upon transcripts of interviews, court transcripts and the poem “Howl”.

I am also a big fan of James Franco. Have been since “Freaks and Geeks”.

The movie focuses on an obscenity trial surrounding the publication of “Howl”. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who published “Howl” in a pocket edition, was put on trial in San Francisco for peddling smut.

The outcome is considered a landmark First Amendment victory. Maybe it is just my 21st century view of things, but really, the other side didn’t have much of a case. Excellent cast though– Jon Hamm, David Strathairn, Jeff Daniels, Treat Williams, Mary-Louise Parker, and Bob Balaban.

I was reminded that when I was in high school I knew a woman who was friends with Ferlinghetti’s ex-wife. I didn’t know who Lawrence Ferlinghetti was at the time and I didn’t really know anything about the Beats. For some reason, this woman was determined to set me up on a date with Ferlinghetti’s teenage daughter. For some reason, I resisted. The date never happened. One more interesting opportunity that slipped right by.

The movie “Howl” actually spends a fair amount of time on the poem itself. Allen Ginsburg reading in smoky coffee houses accompanied by some interesting animation.

I’d definitely want to see this movie again. The boyfriend, not so much. Although, to his credit, he found it interesting and wasn’t disappointed it was not a werewolf movie.

Have a happy Thursday!

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