Howl - Review

Allen Ginsberg's revolutionary 1956 poem Howl - a literary manifesto for the Beat Generation - gets a great reading from modern-day beatnik-star James Franco, playing the poet with bebop passion. That's the cool part of this overloaded hybrid art-film project by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Celluloid Closet). Less cool and more effortful are Howl's reenactment of publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti's obscenity trial (Jon Hamm plays a defense lawyer) and the labored animated images that illustrate the poem as Franco recites it. B-

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