'Ferlinghetti' explores the remarkable life of the poet-painter-activist
Lawrence Ferlinghetti is the subject of a documentary that encompasses, among other topics, the history of the Beats and his City Lights Bookstore.
Henny Ray Abrams/AP
The poet-painter-activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti is the subject of a wide-ranging knockabout jamboree of a documentary about his life, appropriately titled â€śFerlinghetti.â€ť Director Christopher Felver has brought to rousing life through the use of archival clips and interviews the â€śMayor of North Beach,â€ť the founder of San Franciscoâ€™s legendary City Lights bookstore and publishing house, and the author of the iconic, mega-bestselling 1958 poetry collection â€śA Coney Island of the Mind.â€ť
Still going strong in his 90s, Ferlinghetti has lived a life that encompasses, along with so much else, the history of the Beats and the lives of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg (whose poem â€śHowlâ€ť he famously and successfully defended against charges of obscenity). Ferlinghettiâ€™s home-brewed brand of anarchism is weirdly as American as apple pie. Even if you regard him now as a superannuated hippie, his contribution to the culture of American letters is undeniable, and City Lights â€“ the store and the imprint â€“ could well be the closest thing to a literary shrine that we possess. Grade: B+ (Unrated.)