Simply put, Howl is a beautiful, compelling, and original film in my opinion. While it covers many topics, I found the overarching discussion is on the question what is poetry. Most of the film is an analysis of what is poetry and what makes good or bad poetry (or rather, is there such a thing as good or bad poetry). At the center of this discussion and this film is the Ginsberg poem “Howl.” Every moment of the film lives and breathes off of the poem. Every rhythm of the editing or the music or the plot is played to the beat of the poem. The reason the film is special is because it maintained this sort of rhythm. I can’t think of a single film where everything was in sync and simply so poetic. And when I call it poetic, I don’t refer to the philosophical musings or one-liners or profound speeches (although they are there); I refer to the way images, editing sequences, and transitions interact with the what’s going on.
Other important things of note:
James Franco is amazing in this role, nothing much to be said. Even if you don’t like the movie, you’ll probably still marvel at his performance and his reading of the poem throughout the film.
Another quality that makes the film so interesting is that it’s extremely documentary style. Most biopics (like Oliver Stone ones cough hate cough) really wind up showing the directors opinion of a person. Howl, being made by two men who have done only documentaries up to this point really let Ginsberg speak for himself. Every single line from his trial is verbatim from transcripts as are the interviews with Franco as Ginsberg in the film. Whether you like it or not, every image (including the animations) or beat of this film comes from Ginsberg’s works.
So in conclusion, I loved it and found it to be something very unique. I complete understand someone disliking it but I loved it and this is why.