The Problem With James Franco's 'Howl'

James Franco makes a much more plausible Allen Ginsburg than I'd expected in the trailer for indie Howl, coming out later this year, but the clip raises a question for me:


Why not make a straight-ahead Ginsberg biopic instead of a washed-out, highly stylized, slightly surreal movie? I don't think that this is necessarily the wrong decision. An artistic choice to make an homage to Ginsberg's vision isn't the kind of thing that can be judged that way. But isn't Ginsberg a significant enough cultural figure to merit a mass-market, major studio biopic? If Harvey Milk is, Ginsberg is—though Milk is a martyr, and a less controversial man, which I'm sure makes turning his life into a movie easier.

If there was going to be a Ginsberg biopic, the obscenity trial would be a great central drama, and this would be a terrific cast for it—Franco, Mary-Louise Parker, David Strathairn, Jeff Daniels, and Jon Hamm, who between this and The Town is about to be absolutely everywhere. Maybe the most surreal thing about this is that they had to go the quirky, indie route to get these movies, and these parts, at all.
Presented by

Alyssa Rosenberg is a culture writer with The Washington Post.

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Entertainment

Just In