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Movie Review: Howl

Alternate Title: The Ultimate Rant

Story: "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness" is the first line of Allen Ginsberg's ground breaking 1955 poem, 'Howl.' Kudos to writers and directorsRob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman for being able to capture that special and important moment in time with great imagination and energy.

It is 1957 and poet Allen Ginsberg's publisher, Lawrence Ferlinghetti is on trial for obscenity for publishing Ginsberg's poem 'Howl and other Short Stories' via his City Lights Publishing House.

This is not your usual biopic. The dialogue used in the film is culled from courtroom transcripts and interview tapes. The film journeys back and forth from the courtroom, to the Ginsberg interviews and is interspersed with beautiful animation as Ginsberg reads his poem to an audience in San Francisco.

Is this a film for everyone? Probably not. But, if you still feel some inner turmoil, want to know how the Beat Generation began, and could use a good howl, check it out. You will not be disappointed. The beat goes on.

Check out the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ba9yazkl0UE

Acting: James Franco as a very young Allen Ginsberg is wonderful. David Strathairn as Prosecutor Ralph McIntosh always delivers. Jon Hamm (as defense attorney, Jake Ehrlich is pitch perfect. Bob Balaban as Judge Clayton Horn is terrific. The balance of the supporting cast all do a fine job including: Alessandro Nivola (Luther Nichols), Treat Williams (Mark Schorer), Mary-Louise Parker (Gail Potter), Todd Rotondi (Jack Kerouac), Jon Prescott (Neal Cassady), Aaron Tveit (Peter Orlovsky) and Jeff Daniels (David Kirk).

Trivia: From the film's web site "Renowned poet, world traveler, spiritual seeker, founding member of a major literary movement, champion of human and civil rights, photographer and songwriter, political gadfly, teacher and co-founder of a poetics school. Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) defied simple classification".

Predilection: It is no coincidence that I rate my movie reviews with 'howls.'

Food: Do not recall any food.

Sex Spectrum: Lots of spoken words about sex - but none on screen.

Soundtrack: Wonderful

Opening Titles: A terrific graphic opening sequence which leads to the title. Howl. All of the rest of the credits are at the end.

Visual Art: Loved Ginsberg's wallpaper.

Theater Audience: Fairly crowded with a very mixed group.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: I paid attention throughout.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Perhaps

Big Screen or Rental: Oh, definitely go for the big screen.

Length: 90 minutes