James Franco portrays Allen Ginsberg and Aron Ralston, giving him some Colorado cred

Next month, actor James Franco stars in Danny Boyle's 127 Hours, a movie that chronicles the grim hours Aron Ralston spent pinned beneath a rock, an experience that provoked the Colorado climber to use one of his arms to cut off the other.

But first, you can catch Franco in another movie that also hits close to home.

In Howl, Franco plays Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in a cast that includes Jon Hamm and Mary-Louise Parker. The film opened in limited release last weekend and should go nationwide later this month.

In 1974, Ginsberg founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, and the library at the school still carries his name.

Here's a snippet from Roger Ebert's review of the film:

A few days after Allen Ginsberg died in 1997, there was a candlelight memorial service in a coffeehouse in Boulder, Colo., just down Pearl Street from Beat Book Shop. Ginsberg was familiar in Boulder as founder of the wonderfully named Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. Poets read their work and his, listeners sat on chairs or on the floor, and for that time, the beatnik era lived again.

The trailer for Howl is below:

Franco seems to be hot for Colorado roles right now, but my favorite performance of his is consigned to the dustbins of art-house video.

Below is a trailer for a Franco performance-art piece directed by author Dave Eggers for Wholphin #8. It's painful, brilliant, shows incredible stamina, and calls the bluff of rock-star-excess fairy tales.

This clip doesn't tell the half of it. You'd do well to seek out the DVD for the full effect:

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