Ginsberg for Generation Adderall
Howl, a movie about the iconic poem of the 50s Beat movement, offers nothing new to those familiar with Allen Ginsberg and the Beats. What it does instead is transmit a full-bodied poem into a movie. It’s not quite an adaptation but more of a close reading of a poem, annotated with biographical details and historical context in the form of movie scenes.
Written and directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Celluloid Closet, The Times of Harvey Milk), Howl stars James Franco as the great American poet Allen Ginsberg. We get snatches of Ginsberg’s life in New York as he encounters Jack Kerouac (Todd Rolondi), Neal Cassady (Jon Prescott), and his partner Peter Orlovsky (Aaron Tvelt), and how Dadaist writer Carl Solomon, whom Ginsberg meets in a mental asylum, sets off the decorum-smashing, movement-defining poem.
Matthew Mishory’s thirteen-minute short feels a bit like a mash-up between Derek Jarman’s films The Last of England and Caravaggio with a touch of Todd Hayne’s Poison. Jarman fans will recognize Mishory’s deployment of Jarman’s iconography and technique, including collaged home movies and episodic, dreamlike narration. (more…)
Tom Ford dominates his film adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man with a slick visual aesthetic that too often obscures the subtleties of human emotion its lead actor, Colin Firth, displays. A few days after seeing the film, Ford’s meticulous images (a couple’s intimate talk poised on a precarious cliff, naked male torsos writhing under water) faded quickly from my mind as if I was turning the page in a fashion magazine. However, Mr. Firth’s character, George Falconer, a gay English professor living a mostly closeted life in 1960’s Los Angeles, lived with me for weeks as I was heartened by the continuing evolution of gay and lesbian characters on film.