Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman • 2010 • United States
Starring James Franco, Jon Hamm, David Strathairn
Writer-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman bring to life the world of the young Allen Ginsberg—poet, counterculture adventurer, and chronicler of the Beat generation—in a genre-defying whirl of forms that spans documentary, drama, and animation. In his famous confessional style, Ginsberg (James Franco) recounts the road trips, love affairs, and search for personal liberation that led to the most timeless and electrifying work of his career, the poem HOWL. Meanwhile, in a San Francisco courtroom, HOWL is on trial. Prosecutor Ralph McIntosh (David Strathairn) sets out to prove that the book should be banned, while suave defense attorney Jake Ehrlich (Jon Hamm) argues fervently for freedom of speech and creative expression. The proceedings veer from the comically absurd to the passionate as generations clash and art is pitted against fear.