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Friday, November 28, 2008

at the movies



i was surfing when i realized that one of the most impactful dents in the panic on aids in america was theatrical. in the theatre, i mean. it could be the most comprehensive and influential tactic that has been used in prevention and with education that we have.

in more impoverished nations and cultures from malawi to india, theatre and theatre workshops are now being looked at as a way of educating persons in rural areas and keeping their attention without seeming condescending. of course, that is a danger. good theatre needs to engage and compel the spectator to come in, sit down, and take their shoes off. i really believe that requires a personal touch to be evident.

here is an interesting direction that prevention and education have taken to address the needs of more hard-to-reach populations.

in my mind, it is so much more effective to see someone's life played out. my heart becomes involved and that is where i connect with a situation, and idea, or a concept. that is also where i learn a great deal. and i have learned how to cope, and how to survive in many ways through the arts.

when i think about the sheer number of broadway plays, small independent films, documentaries, and blockbusters that have been made about hiv/aids, i get dizzy(er). of course, i found several online lists compiled, but i haven't seen a comprehensive one. I chose this list because to me it demonstrates the successful component that is given when the author/producer is personally and evidently affected.



And the Band Played On

This is an amazing dramatization of the book by the late Randy Shilts, the great journalist in San Francisco who helped make gay rights and AIDS issues prevalent in the mainstream media. Starring Matthew Modine, Richard Gere, Lily Tomlin, Ian McKellan, Angelica Houston and Alan Alda, this brave film attempts to expose how ineptitude and in-fighting amongst various agencies and organizations impacted the early spread of AIDS. This film is excellently acted and a must-see to remind ourselves of the atrocities of the early to mid-1980s. The film was made for HBO.

As Is

PBS’ production of the stellar Boradway hit by William Hoffman, this film chronicles the lives of two-ex lovers who are drawn back together by the AIDS crisis.

The film stars Robert Carradine and the legendary Colleen Dewhurst.

Before Night Falls

Here is an amazing film about the life of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, who struggled powerfully against censorship, homophobia, political oppression and the eventual disintegration of his body brought on by AIDS. The film, powerful and poetically directed by Julian Schnabel, features a bravura, Oscar-nominated performance by Javier Bardem in the title role.

An Early Frost

Starring Aidan Quinn, Ben Gazzara and Gena Rowlands, this NBC movie was one of the first films made about the disease. Here is the story of a family who discover that their son is both gay and dying of AIDS. The films is powerful and eloquent in a silent yet stirring manner.

The Hours

Directed by out director Stephen Daldry, and based on out writer Michael Cunningham’s novel, this is an amazing film with Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Juliane Moore. The film powerfully interweaves three separate stories, all connected by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. Streep’s character, Clarissa, is throwing a party for her ex-lover who is dying of AIDS (played by Ed Harris). A must see.

In the Gloaming

Robert Sean Leonard plays Danny, a young man dying of AIDS, in this HBO film. He returns home to his family to spend his last days with them. Glenn Close plays his mother and Whoopi Goldberg co-stars in this moving and powerful film.

It’s My Party

Nick, played by Eric Roberts, realizes that he has only a few days to live due to a very rare AIDS-related disorder. He decides to throw a two-day farewell party where he invites his friends and his ex, Brandon. The film is both funny and poignant and has an amazing list of cameos by George segal, Olivia Newton-John, Marlee Matlin and Margaret Cho.

Longtime Companion

This is the best and most powerful film made on the subject. With Oscar-worthy performances by Campbell Scott, Mary Louise-Parker and Stephen Caffrey, and a Best Supporting Oscar nomination for Bruce Davison, the film chronicles the lives of gay men in New York when the epidemic was just breaking. A personal and gripping film, Longtime Companion is quite simply one of the best films of the 1990s.

Parting Glances

Along with An Early Frost and As Is, Parting Glances (1986) is one of the first films dealing with AIDS. Of the three, it is the only one that was released theatrically. Instead of focusing on the theme of someone coming home to die, it dealt more with the friends of someone with AIDS helping him to truly live. The movie also was one of the first major roles for Steve Buscemi, of Fargo and Reservoir Dogs fame.

Philadelphia

Jonathan Demme, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington and Antonio Banderas teamed up to give Hollywood’s first mainstream portayal of the disease. Even though the film is skittish about male-to-male contact and sexuality, the film is a powerful rendition of not only the disease, but also the way in which it is used to discriminate against people.

Zero Patience
John Greyson’s avant-garde film is an AIDS musical which traces the notion of the alleged Patient Zero who supposedly brought AIDS to America.

This quirky, funny, yet powerful movie deals with Sir Richard Burton, an explorer and sexologist, who is preparing a museum exhibit about Gaetan Dugas, the flight attendant accused of being Patient Zero. Greyson has created several larger Busby Berkeley-styled musical numbers to create the lurid world of his film.

....by Kaizaad Kotwal at evenings out


today's sound choice was definitely pentimento- "i'll cover you" from rent


Documents

2 comments:

Sheria said...

I hadn't given it much conscious thought until I read your post, but I think that I've definitely been influenced by the arts in shaping my view. I have seen mmost of the productions on the list. They all moved me and made an indelible impression on my thoughts. There is one work misisng from the list that I would include on my own, Tony Kushner's "Angels in America."

Bearbrick Lover: said...

"The Hours" is my favorite along with "Long Time Companion".

I agree that the entertainment industry has a lot to do with educating people – in any way. Thanks to producers, directors, writers and other visionaires who chose to shed light and insight on the subject of AIDS. Without them, the public wouldn't know better.

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