Monday, April 6, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009:

Today Jeff Daniels began his intense and inspired performance as English professor David Kirk (we will finish filming his scenes on Thursday). As Kirk, Jeff Daniels seemed to relish every word that came out of his mouth, proclaiming in an authoritative tone that Howl had no literary merit since it did not conform to his "three bases for an objective criticism [of what makes great literature]: form, theme
and opportunity". Kirk considered Voltaire's Candide to be great literature, and he spent a great deal of time studying it. Yet Kirk admitted he made up his mind that Howl had no literary merit "after five minutes". Defense attorney Jake Ehrlich later pointed out eloquently in his closing statement that, "Voltaire's Candide was originally condemned as obscene because it dealt with sex. Words dealing with and describing sex do not destroy literary merit. Seek filth and you will find it. Seek beauty of narration and you will find that too".

Ehrlichs heated questioning of Kirk resulted in a stand off between the prosecution and defense. David Straitharn made McIntosh's struggle palpable, as he sensed that he was losing the case against the slick Ehrlich, suavely played by the great Jon Hamm. At one point, Straitharn stood up out of his seat with indignation at what the prosecution had said, yet he was unable to even utter "I object". Straitharns powerhouse performance revealed that although McIntosh bumbled through his questioning at times, he truly believed that Howl was obscene, and he genuinely wanted to protect society from filth like Ginsberg's poem.

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