Howl is a great poem; Howl is a weak movie. If you want to be talked at for 90 minutes, then maybe you'll find it edifying, but to be honest, I found that this film took some really interesting people, a really interesting moment and a really important poem and turned them into words, words, words. I would have liked the portions in which Ginsberg reads the poem at the Six Gallery because I think James Franco does a pretty good job of getting Ginsberg's voice and cadences down as well as his gestures and body language. Never been much of a fan of Franco, but he does a good job here of paying homage to Ginsberg. Still, I can't get past his pretty boy looks which don't work even for the young Ginsberg. Similarly, the crowd of beats at the poetry reading look like they just popped out of a frat party. They don't look "beat." The courtroom scenes were poor; I am a great admirer of David Strathairn, but he has very little to work with here while Jon Hamm does a fine imitation of a block of wood. Jeff Daniels is laughable as a caricature of academia. The interview sequences include a lot of good material, but there's too much of it to be absorbed and the whole thing comes across as very static. The animations provided a creative way to incorporate the poem, but they didn't really dazzle. Ginsberg was a very interesting man who deserves much better.
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