Hello, everyone! My name is Cayla, and I work on curation here at VRV! I wanted to start up a recurring feature called Cayla’s Friday Selection where I talk about some of my favorite stuff on VRV.

Today, we’re talking about Howl.


Howl is an interesting mix of biopic, courtroom drama, and surreal animated poetry reading. Focusing on beat poet Allen Ginsberg (played here by James Franco), the movie acts more like a continuous story and more like three separate short films that cut between each other.


One part of Howl is comprised of a fictionalized interview with Ginsberg where he recounts various aspects of his young adult life, creative process, and general outlook. Another part is a dramatization of the obscenity trials Ginsberg’s work was subject to. The last, and certainly most visually interesting piece of the puzzle, is a reading of the entirety of Howl accompanied by hallucinogenic animated sequences.


While its scope is ambitious, the film impressively manages to synthesize these three disparate narratives into a cohesive whole — details of Ginsberg’s life give depth to the courtroom proceedings, which illuminates the animated poetry sequences, which in turn help alleviate the dryness of the more realistic segments.


It’s a strange beast, but Howl is certainly worth a watch! Check it out on VRV Select today!