From what I can tell, there is no official trailer for this movie. I’ll update this post whenever an actual trailer does come to light. For now, this is what the QFest website provided for a trailer.

Speaking of QFest, welcome to my first ever film festival. As you can see, QFest involves the promotion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered films. I’m not sure of the exact count, but there are well over 100 full length and short films. Obviously I won’t see them all, but I’m going to see a small sampling of films from the festival, hopefully providing a glimpse of what the festival has to offer.

First one is Howl, which made its debut to mixed reviews at Sundance.  The movie is a biopic of sorts, involving Allen Ginsberg’s four-part poem and the obscenity trial that resulted from the publishing of the poem.

The movie is definitely a mixed bag, though it’s decent enough to see and enjoy. The movie can be broken down into three loosely linear story lines: Ginsberg explaining the writing of the poem, the obscenity trial, and a reading of the poem through live action and animation.

The best of these is the first, which is possible by James Franco and his portrayal of Ginsberg. Franco, at least to me, is severely underrated as an actor. Between this, Milk, and even Pineapple Express, Franco has shown a repeatedly ability to become the person he portrays. Hopefully he’ll get more roles like these, or even bigger ones, like he got in the Spider-Man films.

Ginsberg here is filmed in his apartment during the trial, being interviewed by a journalist about the writing of the poem. Ginsberg is rambling, but coherently, taking about various loves, his homosexuality, his mother, and just the world at large and how it has forsaken his generation. The sequences in the apartment are filmed in color, while the flashbacks are done in black and white, with random color splashes to make things stand out differently and uniquely: the sky is red, a painting in an art museum is a swirling mass of colors, all of it referencing Howl.

The trial is standard fare: supposed experts explain to the judge about the validity of the poem. The insight is interesting, and the acting is fine, but compared to the rest of the film, it seems lacking, especially since we already know of the outcome of the trial.

The mixed bag is the animation during the reading of the poem. Ginsberg, in the live action portion, is reading the poem in an underground coffee shop or bar to a live audience. They cheer and scream out when he condemns the industrial machine and sympathize with him when he laments about his mother. Meanwhile, the animation is used to help drive and explain the poem through a variety of images, many of them sexual and many more rallying against the system. The style is unique and expressive, but it doesn’t help explain some parts of the poem, and more troubling, it’s also rather distracting. There were times when I wanted to listen to the poem (read marvelously by Franco, by the way), but I couldn’t because of what was happening on the screen. A shame, a least to me, because the poem was really something else.

So, not a terrible film by any means, but it’s not the greatest either. Just decent, but it’s enjoyable.

Note: Wikipedia lists the film as having a domestic release in the fall. I don’t imagine this going beyond a limited release, but I would urge people to see this anyway, because it still is a somewhat interesting film.

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