Director: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
Year Released: 2010
Dreadful effort at filming the obscenity trial surrounding the publication (by Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Books) of Allen Ginsberg's epic poem "Howl," with its crass sexual references and general vagueness. Pretty paltry at 80 minutes - just when it starts to hit on something that feels 'real,' like Ginsberg's initial struggles with intimacy, it quickly transforms into an incredibly bad animated re-enactment of the poem (!), which is both hideous and literal (the animated penises are simply ridiculous). It also turns into less a story about Ginsberg - James Franco, who does a decent job 'as' him, does a nice job with the real author's mannerisms - than a 'war' between the 'squares' (Mary-Louise Parker, David Strathairn) and the 'progressives.' Just as 'breaking down' a poem takes away its magic, so too does filming it.