By Tim Parks
The Celluloid Portrait
Actor James Franco tries on another real-life acting skin, following his turns in the 2001 TV biopic, in which he starred as James Dean, and then as Harvey Milk’s amour, Scott Smith, in 2008’s Milk.
In Howl, Franco portrays Allen Ginsberg, the noted author of the revolutionary book-length titular poem, which is considered to be one of the pen ultimate works to come out of The Beat Generation, along with William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch and Jack Kerouac’s On The Road.
Set against the backdrop of the mid-1950’s, the main thrust of the movie centers around the poem’s controversial aspects, such as describing drug use and sexuality (in particular homosexuality), and the launching of an obscenity trial aimed at censoring his work.
Howl, which co-stars Mary-Louise Parker and Jon Hamm, marks documentary makers Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein’s (The Celluloid Closet) first foray into narrative writing and directing. Opens September 24.
Flicks With Chicks
You Again stars Kristen Bell as a well-to-do PR guru, who has traveled lights years away from the teenager that was bullied during her high school days. Unfortunately for her, she is about to be sucked back into a days-gone-by vortex without the aide of a time travel device, be it a hot tub or even a souped up DeLorean.
She arrives home for her brother’s (Jimmy Wolk) wedding and is nonplussed to discover that her future sister-in-law is her one-time arch nemesis (Odette Yustman), who has conveniently forgotten all of the nastiness that she put Bell’s character through. And she is not the only one in the family with a foe to contend with, as her mother (Jamie Lee Curtis) comes face-to-face with her former rival (Sigourney Weaver), who happens to be the aunt of the bride.
The supporting cast of this Walt Disney Pictures comedy features Betty White and Kristin Chenoweth. Opens September 24.
Never Let Me Go, which is the film adaptation of Remains of the Day author Kazuo Ishiguro’s acclaimed novel, stars Carey Mulligan (An Education) and Keira Knightley (Atonement) who face the omnipresent question of what makes us human, as they set about inadvertently uncovering its meaning.
The two have lived a sheltered life at an ostensibly idealized English boarding school, and once they graduate the real world pulls them in with its gravitational force, which sees the duo now dealing with the nature of jealousy and betrayal. This poignant drama also features thriller elements, as a haunting reality awaits the young ladies, in which things aren’t always as they appear to be. Opens September 15.
Hopefully I’m Still Here, the documentary that chronicles Joaquin Phoenix’s rather “interesting” professional year, will shed light on why the Oscar-nominated actor has decided to retire from acting for a new role…as a rapper.
The film, directed by fellow thespian Casey Affleck, is said to answer the burning question of his recent unusual antics being for real, or if they are the stuff of which mockumentaries are made.
The official word from Magnolia Pictures, the studio behind the flick, is that the movie is “Sometimes funny, sometimes shocking, and always riveting, the film is a portrait of an artist at a crossroads.” Opens September 10.