Allen Ginsberg: Heartthrob
Granted, casting James Franco as the poet Allen Ginsberg in the new film Howl is not as bizarre as trying to shoehorn John Wayne into the role of Genghis Khan, nor as venal as tapping Brad Pitt to play Achilles. Still, my initial reaction was, "What? Matthew McConaughey wasn't available?"
After I managed to talk myself off the ledge with the promise of cookies and the reassuring notion that at most three or four people would pay to see a movie about an Eisenhower-era obscenity trial surrounding a poem that today could be used to sell artfully distressed lofts to red state fauxhemians, I had to concede that of today's young actors Franco is the only one with the perverse, what-the-[heck] sensibility to pull it off.
There is something naked in Franco's acting that may jibe well with Ginsberg's sacred-slash-bleeding-heart-on-sleeve expansiveness--a kind of goofy sincerity that is both underpinned and undermined by an intelligent and natural seeming self-consciousness. I figure if Franco attacks the role of Ginsberg in the meta-fictional style of his recent gig on General Hospital--openly exploring the let's-play-pretend nature of cinema (and the bio-pic in particular), this could be a film and performance worth hunting down.
When I began writing this post (before more important--read: less fun--work got in the way), the movie had a fair amount of buzz among the pierced and patchoulied urban hemp farmers and the neo-beatnik set, but like a lot of worthwhile things it was almost instantly plowed under by newer shinier things.
As far as I can tell the movie never opened anywhere in Texas . . . until now.
Books, etc. by or about Allen Ginsberg from Harris County Public Library's collection
Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community [DVD]
The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice: First Journals and Poems 1937-1952 / edited by Juanita Lieberman-Plimpton & Bill Morgan
Collected Poems 1947-1980 /
Death & Fame: Poems 1993-1997 /
Deliberate Prose: Selected Essays 1952-1995 /
Howl: Original Draft Facsimile, Transcript, Variant Versions, Fully Annotated by Author, with Contemporaneous Correspondence, Account of First Public Reading, Legal Skirmishes, Precursor Texts and Bibliography / edited by Barry Miles.
Howl and Other Poems /
Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters / edited by Bill Morgan & David Stanford
The Letters of Allen Ginsberg / edited by Bill Morgan
Selected Poems 1947-1995 /
Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews 1958-1996 /
White Shroud: Poems 1980-1985 /
Some of James Franco's film and television work
Freaks and Geeks
Spiderman, Spiderman 2 & 3
As always, questions, comments, expressions of unmitigated disgust, snide asides, the odd bodkin and suggestions for future posts are gladly accepted. Thanks for reading and here's wishing you and yours all the best in the coming year. ~dc
Squirrels are just rats with better stylists. --Zip the What-Is-it