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Movie Review: The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg

Alternate Title: A Paean to the Original Howler

Story: Want a breath of fresh air and a trip down memory lane to a far, far seemingly better place? Check out this re-release from director, documentarian and film school teacher Jerry Aronson. He had unprecedented access to Allen Ginsberg before he died (1926-1997) and started working on this homage back in 1982. It was first released in 1993 and this updated version is worthy of your time and thought. It is a tribute to Ginsberg without his warts and blemishes and those that admired him (that would be me) will like this untarnished picture.

He divides the life of Ginsberg into decades and chapters. Talking heads include family members and the likes of Timothy Leary, Norman Mailer, William Burroughs, Joan Baez, Ken Kesey, Herbert Hunke and Abbie Hoffman. There are also some clips from TV interviews Ginsberg did with Dick Cavett and William F. Buckley.

It was a joy to watch and listen to Allen Ginsberg reading his own poetry. That, alone is worth the price of admission.

Allen Ginsberg was a truly visionary poet, thinker and pacifist. He knew how to use the media to his advantage when needed. Where, oh where is Ginsberg now that we need him the most?

For some of Ginsberg's poems go to: :http://www.rooknet.com/beatpage/writers/ginsberg.html

To see a list and read about some of the other wonderful beat generation writers check out: http://www.rooknet.com/beatpage/writers/index.html

Acting: Not applicable in a documentary but I did find the clips with William F. Buckley to be very interesting, indeed.

Predilection: I like Allen Ginsberg and the whole beat generation.

Visual Art: Some wonderful old photographs, by Ginsberg and some terrific paintings by his longtime companion Peter Orlovsky.

Soundtrack: A great soundtrack including Bob Dylan, Pail Simon, Patti Smith and the Beatles.

Theater Audience: About a dozen howlers and us.

Tissue Usage: I admit to getting ver-klempt when Ginsberg was reciting his poem, Kaddish and my movie buddy needed one of my tissues (perhaps she could have used two).

Oscar Worthy: Yes.

Nit Picking: I only wish it was a longer film (bet you never read that before in one of my reviews).

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. How about instead of renting films, read some of Ginsberg poetry.

Length: 85 minutes.