The Allen Ginsberg biopic, Howl, starring James Franco as the American weird beard beatnik poet and intellectual has filled out a lovely cast: Paul Rudd, Alan Alda, Mary-Louise Parker (so tempestuous on Weeds), Jeff Daniels, and David Strathairn have all signed. The actors will portray real-life characters involved in a 1957 obscenity trial, which saw the publisher of Ginsberg’s epic, landmark poem, “Howl,” forced to defend the work’s graphic descriptions of homosexual acts and its merit to society. The court ultimately decided in the publisher’s favor.
The indie feature marks the debut of documentarians, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, who co-directed the homosexuality-in-film doc, The Celluloid Closet. Epstein also directed The Times of Harvey Milk, which won the 1985 Oscar for Best Documentary, and Gus Van Sant, who directed Franco in this year’s Milk, is producing Howl. Got all that? As if Paul Rudd needed yet another posse. It’s been noted that Franco resembles a young Ginsberg, before the beatnik took on his chubby, bald-yet-hirsute appearance—as played by David Cross in I’m Not There—and joined NAMBLA.
“Fifty years later, Ginsberg’s vision is as relevant as the year he wrote it,” Friedman said in a statement to the trades. “It resonates with issues of free speech, government censorship, militaristic empire building, fear-mongering, sexual conformity and the co-opting of religion.”
The Allen Ginsberg Trust sought the directors for the project. This is def a film to keep an eye on, though I’d prefer to see a full-fledged and objective biopic rather than a damn-the-man flick a la The People vs. Larry Flynt. Franco’s is a role that could have been filled by Johnny Depp in the ’90s, smart career trajectory.
Discuss: Looking forward to Howl? Do you agree with the director’s remarks? Any thoughts on Ginsberg?
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Posted on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008 by David Chen
After crafting the critically acclaimed Paranoid Park, director Gus Van Sant now seems poised to follow it up with yet another audacious and powerful film. The trailer for Van Sant’s Milk debuted on Apple today and it masterfully sets up some of the main conflicts of the film (namely, the social climate in the late 1970s, Harvey Milk’s conflict with city supervisor Dan White, and the threats to Milk’s life). The trailer also gives us glimpses of some of the film’s main performances. Along with an unrecognizable Emile Hirsch, Sean Penn looks to give an understated performance as the titular character and Brolin continues his unstoppable career revival by playing White (does anyone remember when Brolin was still cavorting around in films like Hollow Man? I do *shudder*).
[flv:http://bitcast-a.bitgravity.com/slashfilm/trailers/milk.flv 470 250]
Harvey Milk was a gay rights activist and a San Francisco city supervisor, widely regarded as the first openly gay man elected to any political office in America. He was the subject of the 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary. Milk will be the first non-documentary film based on his life.
As always, feel free to leave your thoughts about the trailer in the comments below. Milk hits theaters on November 26th 2008.
Actor James Franco, already being anointed the “new” Heath Ledger thanks to his pop-cult crossover in Pineapple Express, will likely draw comparisons to Dirk Diggler come this December. With a supporting role in Gus Van Sant‘s Oscar-buzzing Milk, Franco will join the magical club of major actors who have rocked fake dicks on screen. Here’s a classy story from the set via Flawed Hollywood…
“This scene went on for a long time, like half the day, and it’s getting old… and I go over to Sean and I guess he didn’t know that I was wearing a prosthetic. I go, `Sean, you’re such a great actor but you wouldn’t do a scene like this if they asked you; you wouldn’t dive into a pool naked.’ And he said… `Well James, if I was built like you, I would.’ A couple of weeks later we did this scene, where we’re both dancing and we’re naked, and we both have prosthetic penises. He finally put it together that I’m wearing, like, the Boogie Nights prosthetic.”
Funny. Someone will recall that he does the reverse of this gag in Pineapple. In Milk, Franco plays Scott Smith, the lover and supporter of the nation’s first openly gay politician, San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk, played by Sean Penn. Milk was assassinated in 1978 by a man who had previously held his city office. Prior to Milk‘s release, Franco will be seen this September playing the son of Richard Gear’s character in the family drama Nights of Rodanthe, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, tissue sales).
Discuss: What is the bear thinking in the above photo? Who else is in the “hey, look” club? Before certain limp imps throw food below, let me add that this item was recommended by Peter.
Back in January we posted the first photos of Sean Penn as Harvey Milk in Gus Van Sant‘s Milk. Focus Features has now released the first official production photo. Check out our previously released set photos of Emile Hirsch as gay activist Cleve Jones.
Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office in the history of the planet (according to Time Magazine). In 1977, he was voted to the city supervisors’ board of San Francisco. The following year, both he and the city’s mayor George Moscone were shot to death by another city supervisor, Dan White. Mr. Milk was previously the subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary feature The Times of Harvey Milk (1984), directed by Rob Epstein and produced by Richard Schmiechen. Milk is the first non-documentary feature to explore the man’s life and career.
Tonight Gus Van Sant shot with hundreds of extras in front of the newly-renovated Castro movie theater (looking more beautiful than it did in the 1970′s) for the new Sean Penn movie Milk. Click on the photo to enlarge.
There will be a bring-your-own-Candle-light March on Friday Night, February 8th, but only those who have signed up should attend. We didn’t sign up, but intend on trying to crash the party.
Check out more of our Milk in San Francisco coverage:
sources: flickr, milkmarch, sfist
Last week we posted photos of Castro Street in San Francisco, which has been retrofitted for Gus Van Sant’s Milk. Yesterday we gave you the first look at Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office in the history of the planet. Today we bring you the first look at Emile Hirsch as gay activist Cleve Jones. Yes, that is Sean Penn in character as Harvey Milk on the left in the photo below. Is it just me or does the curly hair (wig?) looks too over the top.
Check out the first photo of Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office in the history of the planet (according to Time Magazine). Gus Van Sant is filming the biopic in San Francisco, where parts of the Castro District have been retrofitted back to the 1970′s (check back to our posting from last week for more storefront photos). Tinobear (Valentin Aguirre) snapped the photo above from a sign outside the retrofitted set of Harvey Milk’s campaign headquarters (seen below). Click to enlarge.
Harvey Milk (1930-1978) was an activist and politician, and the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in America; in 1977, he was voted to the city supervisors’ board of San Francisco. The following year, both he and the city’s mayor George Moscone were shot to death by another city supervisor, Dan White. Mr. Milk was previously the subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary feature The Times of Harvey Milk (1984), directed by Rob Epstein and produced by Richard Schmiechen. Milk is the first non-documentary feature to explore the man’s life and career.
Update: Enahmanson snapped this photo of Penn as Harvey Milk while visiting the set.
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Gus Van Sant‘s Harvey Milk bio-pic Milk is currently shooting in my hometown of San Francisco. But for some reason I’m stranded miles away in Park City. Anyway, the production designers are giving Castro street a retro make-over. The following photos shows work on some of the store fronts, which includes a new 70s psychedelic music store called Aquarius Records on Castro and 19th Street.Â More Photos after the jump.
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