Friday, July 22, 2005

Angel's In America Part One

This two part play, by Tony Kushner, was adapted into a movie by HBO. I was reading the play at the time it aired so, I did not watch it until it came out on DVD. I have to say that the play itself is amazing, and I think it would be very hard to ruin it (you would almost have to try). That said I think it ended up being an amazing peice of work and I am looking forward to the conclusion.

Although I don't entirely agree with all the sentiments expressed in this play I find it very well written and still very relevant, not just to the "gay community", but to humans at large. I don't really care to discuss the details of the characters and plot now, as that would be more appropriate to a review of the play itself. If you are interested in that, there are excellent reviews at imdb and a detailed anylisis at Sparknotes. Instead I am going to focus on the adaptation.

The adaptation was excellent. Unlike many plays this one worked well as movie. The scenes were cut smoothly. Some of the split scenes seem to work better on film, such as the one wher e Joe and Louis leave their lovers. One of the best things about seeing the movie was the detail they were able to go to with the sets. For example, the vision Prior has where he is dancing with Louis, was much more spectacular and amazing than any stage production. Also the appearance of the Angel was incredibly well done. The effect of the wall being ripped apart was excellent. The hospital scenes were much more realistic than had they been on stage.

The acting was excellent. Al Pachino did an excellent job portraying a conflicted lawyer. The chemistry between the actors was excellent, particularly the tension between Louis (Ben Shekleman) and Joe ( Patrick Wilson). To me the best test of an actor is when the audiance is able to forget about the actors and focus on the characters. I feel that all the actors did an excellent job of this, with the possible exception of Meryl Streep. Justin Kirk's emotions were so real I thought he might actually be dying. Emma Thomson lost herself so completely in her characters I did not realize she played Prior’s nurse, the Angel, and the homeless woman. Mary Louise Parker also did an excellent job as ,Harper, the only sane character, a valium addicted Mormon housewife married to a closeted gay Republican. And Jeffery Wright rounded out the cast as both Belize,a flaboyantly gay nurse, and Mr.Luis, Harper’s travel agent halucination.

If you haven’t seen this yet, I highly recommend it, not only for the quality of the acting and production, but because of the excellent writing and sheer humanity of the play itself.

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