Sunday, January 20, 2013

Angels In America








Given the Oscar race is not too exciting until the SAGS and I haven't seen anything lately, (Although I will watch Beasts Of The Southern Wild soon and will see either Lincoln, Argo, or The Impossible, which one would you want me to review? Please tell me!) I've decided to write about Angels In America, Tony Kushner's  famous Pulitzer  Prize winning and Tony winning play that I read about a month ago and can't stop thinking about. I've also seen the movie, which I really like  and will review as well.

Anyway, it is about two gay lovers  in the 1980's  named Prior and Louis and Prior has discovered he has aids and Louis, who is not the kind of person who can bear disease and sickness, walks out on him and starts a relationship with a deeply closeted man named Joe Pitt, who is a republican and a mormon. His wife Harper is extremely  delusional  and troubled, given she came from an abusive home and is suffering from the lack of meaning or even recognition in their relationship, given it is all based on a lie. Meanwhile, Prior is being visited by an angel telling him he is a prophet which pushes him close to over the edge. Throw in Joe's  boss the famous lawyer Roy Cohn, Joe's  strict but kind mother Hannah, Prior's best friend and Roy's nurse  Belize, and the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg haunting Roy for exploiting the trial proceedings , and you've got one amazing play!!

Angels In America is so epic and rich and layered. It's amazing how Tony Kushner can develop all these characters and not get any of them lost or bogged down. Every one of them is perfectly developed and every one of their situations is so interesting and dark and funny. It mixes politics, homosexuality, and what it means to be alive in such a seamless and flawless way.  It's truly mind-blowing to read it. The first play, Millenium Approaches chronicles the self-destruction of all the characters which causes the Angel to come Prior's bedroom and tell him to preach against the terrible crushing mindset of humanity at this time,presenting the idea that by being so driven by greed, we were destroying the world and everything in it. You would think that these  ideas would be dated given it is so topical to 1980s America , but it all holds  up. The 2nd play, Perestroika , is about the healing and changing of all of these characters and how they surive the tests and burdens that life has given them, eventually coming to a heart-rendering conclusion.

The film version of it is spectacular as well. I'd say the characters are more likeable in the film version and it's a little less dark, but the impact of the piece is still very strong. The actors are amazing : You never see one bit of Al Pacino in his portrayal of Roy Cohn, Meryl Streep again shows her amazing versality by playing three roles with incredible brilliance and strength (A  male Rabbi, Ethel Rosenberg, and Hannah Pitt), Mary Louise Parker is incredibly vulnerable and real as Harper, and Justin Kirk is a perfect and extremely stirring Pirior. Emma Thompson is also terrific playing the important role of the Angel  and giving excellent work with two smaller parts (Prior's nurse Emily and a homeless woman). The rest of the cast is great too, but these are the standouts.

I just can't say or get enough out of this amazing piece of work! Have any of you read it or seen the film?  If so, tell me your thoughts! If not, SEE IT IMMEDIATELY!









8 comments:

Louis Morgan said...

I have not seen this. I would recommend reviewing Lincoln though.

joe burns said...

SEE IT!!!! You would love it Louis!!! Yes, that's the one I will be planning to watch now, after reviewing Beasts Of The Southern Wild tomorrow morning!!!

dinasztie said...

It's a great movie, but I think it's more for the stage where it really hits you.

Anyway, anyone who's ever suffered can feel for Prior and Harper. The only thing I don't like is that it makes Roy Cohn a bit too much of a cartoon character.

joe burns said...

I so want to see the stage production!! Someday, I hope...

Anyway, I think Roy is mostly an asshole for most of the play, but I don't think he's portrayed as one-dimensional.

Nues20 said...

I loved it!
So beautifully done and the performances are terrific too.
What did you think of Jeffrey Wright (Belize) in it?

Derek Bowman said...

I watched the first part of the HBO mini-series/movie and wasn't particularly enraptured. Patrick Wilson was the standout for me, and Emma and Meryl didn't even seem to be in it that much? I don't know, maybe the second part will be better? This has motivated me to finish it though, nice review! :)

joe burns said...

Nues20: I thought he was great, but my view of the character is that he is more cynical and bitter.

Derek Bownman: Yes, LOL, you must watch the 2nd part to get all of Meryl's and Emma's performances. Read the play as well!!

Derek Bowman said...

LOL I figured. I was going to watch it but I had to return it to the library lmao. I'll finish it. Usually I'm not so half-assed about watching things. :)