|Angels in America
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Studio: Hbo Home Video Release Date: 12/05/2006 Run time: 352 minutes Rating: Nr
Tony Kushner's prize-winning play Angels in America became the defining theatrical event of the 1990s, an astonishing mix of philosophy, politics, and vibrant gay soap opera that summed up the Reagan era for an entire generation of theater-goers. Post-9/11 would seem to be too late for a film version--philosophy and politics don't always age well--but this 2003 HBO adaptation, ably directed by Mike Nichols (The Graduate), provides a time capsule of the '80s and reveals the deep emotional subcurrents that will give the play lasting power.
The story centers around Prior Walter (Justin Kirk) and Louis Ironson (Ben Shenkman), a gay couple that falls apart when Prior grows ill as a result of AIDS. But cancer is not the only thing invading Prior's life: He begins to have religious visions of an angel (Emma Thompson, Sense and Sensibility) announcing that he is a prophet. Louis, who doesn't cope well with disease and suggestions of mortality, leaves and starts a relationship with Joe Pitt (Patrick Wilson), a closeted Mormon who works for Roy Cohn (Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon)--the real-life right-wing lawyer, notorious for his ruthless behind-the-scenes machinations. Add in Joe's depressed and hallucinating wife Harper (Mary Louise Parker, Fried Green Tomatoes), his determined but open-minded mother Hannah (Meryl Streep, Adaptation), a fierce drag queen/nurse named Belize (Jeffrey Wright, Basquiat, reprising his celebrated performance from the Broadway production), and you've still only begun to discover the wealth of characters and storylines in Kushner's ambitious work.
The powerhouse cast (also featuring James Cromwell, Michael Gambon, and Simon Callow) is uniformly superb. The script has its weaknesses--some of the fantastic elements, including Prior's journey to Heaven towards the end, fall flat--but even what doesn't work is bristling with ideas and a ferocious desire to capture human existence in this time and place. --Bret Fetzer
- Angels in America
The mini series is worth watching. It should have shown more of the ghetto and urban side of AIDS. I enjoyed Al Pacino and Jeffery White. Jeffery White made the movie a true gem. Even with Al Pacino as Roy Cohn I still hated him. I say hate because he hated himself and that is a hateful thing....more info
- A Truly Touching and Wonderful Movie
I recently rented this 2-set CD. I originally watched this when it was on HBO (in 2005, I think). I had forgotten what a masterpiece of filmmaking this was. Apparently, so has HBO. They won't show this again, but I can turn on and see "Batman Returns" any day of the week. Go figure.
Adapted from Tony Kushner's prize-winning "Angels in America/A Gay Fantasia on National Themes," Mike Nichols does a most superb job at directing this for the small screen. A winner of 5 Golden Globes and several Emmys, the play (and movie) deal with the early discovery of AIDS and its affect (or lack thereof) on the Reagan administration.
The major characters are Joe Pitt (played by Patrick Wilson); Roy Cohn (played by Al Pacino); Ethel Rosenberg, et al. (played by Meryl Streep); The Angel, et al. (played by Emma thompson); Prior Walter (played by Justin Kirk); Belize (played by Jeffrey Wright); Harper Pitt (played by Mary-Louise Parker), and Ben Shenkman (played by Louis Ironson). Meryl Streep is absolutely unbelievable in ANY role she plays here (as always). Al Pacino is just as fantastic as Roy Cohn. You just want to kill him, but (as the saying goes) he eventually gets what's coming to him.
Mary-Louise Parker defies description in her performance of the eternally depressed, pill-popping, wife-of-convenience, Harper Pitt. Patrick Wilson plays her husband of convenience who is so brainwashed by regligion, he sets himself on a path where neither he nor anyone who comes to associate him will ever be happy--although he so desparately wants to be. Justin Kirk plays the AIDS-ridden "prophet," that the angels have decided to contact. Too bad his agents or whomever it was involved with the movie thought only to nominate him as a supporting actor, when he is the main character in the play and movie. When they tried to right their wrong, the votes were in and he wound up being nominated for nothing! Jeffrey Wright reprised his role of Belize.
Although never preachy, this movie does deliver a very serious message: that gay people have (and want) just as much rights to live as others. Reagan had a great ability of burying his head in the sand on matters regarding AIDS, and it cost countless lives--both gay and straight.
This movie is divided into 6 parts, with a total running time of 352 minutes. I could have watched double that time. I loved it all. I did think when Prior made it to heaven, there should have been more to it than it showed, but it's the ending that I will NEVER forget. And I'm betting, neither will you. A must-see.
- Six Hours of Nonsensical Soap Opera
I deeply regret not being able to give this version of "Angels in America" more than two stars. I'd heard good things about Tony Kushner's play, and given the A-List actors chosen for the screen, I expected more. Or should I say less? By that I mean that HBO on a bloated budget is a red flag for an over-long and over-indulgent piece of dreck. It's quite frankly shameful to waste time, money and talent in such a way. "Angels in America", by trying to be everything by going in dozens of different directions at once, naturally ends up being nothing and going nowhere. Is this a speechifying morality play? Is this a child's 'special effects' fantasy? Is this a showcase for actors to experiment? (Uh, why was Meryl Streep cast as the aged rabbi again?) Is this a repository of left over bits and pieces from other projects? Because it IS that incoherent, and I can't shake the feeling that this whole effort was done frivolously, like on a bet or something. As in, "Let's just see how silly we can be, and how the masses will still suck up to us!" DISCRIMINATING VIEWER ALERT: Don't fall into this trap!...more info
- Simply Perfect
This is simply one of the best, well done, immaginative, insightful films I've seen in a long time. I recommend everyone watch it or at least try to make it thru the 5 hours, well well well worth it. I can't wait to see the play in person, I think that would be something quite awesome to see. I'm going to make my mom watch the DVDs....more info
- Mike Nichols Tries to Be Ken Russell
I remember sitting in a Barnes & Noble and reading each part of ANGELS IN AMERICA in the '90s and wondering how it would play onstage. The dialogue was wonderful and, even without seeing an actor as Roy Cohn, some scenes just jumped right off the page.
When I heard that HBO was sinking tens of millions of dollars into a mini-series of it, I was afraid that their worst tendencies would overwhelm the production.
And it did, for the most part.
If they wanted to rip it up with the surreal angel scenes, they should've got the deranged English director Ken Russell (ALTERED STATES, TOMMY) instead of the socially-conscious Mike Nichols. But I'm sure Russell would've also monkeyed with the rest of the play's carefully crafted messages. (To be honest, I don't wish Russell on anybody: read the bio of legendary screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky to see that).
And what did the angel scenes really lead up to? The "prophet" she announces climbs the ladder into Heaven...and tells God what he can do with it. All the hours of weaving a complex story of personal human interaction are capped off with the sullen petulance of a child-like reproach.
It is revealing as a mentality ("Nothing Is My Fault"), but as drama it doesn't work as well.
But a lot of scenes really work and the cast is great, but the ending is a let-down. And some of the hallucinations are just indulgent messes.
I've watched shows like ANGELS IN AMERICA and AND THE BAND PLAYED ON (the book was infinitely better), and I've noticed a lot of historical revisionism going on: Ronald Reagan was NOT responsible for the AIDS epidemic in the 1980's. I was there and saw it: at the news of a new "gay disease" striking down gays in San Francisco and New York, the Reagan Administration ordered the bathhouses in Frisco shut down until the situation could be evaluated...and the gays just about burned City Hall to the ground to keep them open. And for the virus to spread even more.
In 1987 or '88, the USA spent $700 million dollars on AIDS research and $77 million on breast cancer research, the leading cause of death for women. That was in USA Today.
When I see desperate characters in movies like ANGELS IN AMERICA berating the government for "not caring" about what's happening, I remember the truth: the people most at risk didn't allow anyone to care.
They screamed for help while pushing it away.
- Al in rare form
A tour de force performance by most who appear, but esp. by Al who plays a vulnerable character, a new role for him. Full of passion and perfection, I bought it to add to my PACINO collection and am pleased it's as entertaining as it's intended to be....more info
- Angels in America DVD
This is one of those movies that you will either like or dislike. In my opinion, it's an absolute FIVE!!!! The actors are at their best and the story draws you in. I rented it first and then had to have my own copy. It's one of those types of movies....more info
- A Great Masterpiece of Film Making and Script
I feel superfluous writing a review of this wonderful film after so many eloquent people have already written perceptive & glowing tributes, so I'll make it short. I thought I could never see a film greater than the top dramatic works of genius such as "Night Of The Iguana", "A Street Car Named Desire", "On The Waterfront", "Wild Strawberries", and "To Kill a Mockingbird" to name some that come quickly to mind, but this film I have to put into a category of its own. Good plays always represent a potential for good films since they already have a good script to start with - the least a play must have. But take a great play like this one by the genius of Tony Kushner, add the genius of a director in top form together with top actors like Al Pucino at his best with the other great performances by the amazing Mary Louise Parker, the strikingly superb Ben Shenkman and Patrick Wilson along with the divine Emma Thompson and you get an incredible knock out film that's more than a movie somehow. The constantly engrossing dialogue, the wonderful visual effects, the fascinating characters and story development makes one marvel. This is a unique film-phenomenon that hits very hard, knocks you around, throws you on the floor and makes you marvel at last at creation. ...more info
- Soulful ...
Mike Nichol's adapts Tony Kurschner's award-winning play for this 6 hour HBO series ( presented here on 2 discs ). Like a lot of plays adapted to film, sometimes the parlance of the speeches seem a bit stilted or "play-like", but somehow that doesn't detract much from the film, as it is a film about communication both said & unsaid. My major complaint about the film is that Pacino, Streep and Thompson get top billing in the film - when in fact that they're all essentially secondary characters - which is not to say that each wasn't brilliant in their roles ( and sometimes multiple roles - particularily Streep who surely outdoes herself in the film & certainly deserved an Emmy for her multi-performance ). Justin Kirk plays the lead Prior Walters - with a mix of love, pathos, fear and joy, yet doesn't even get listed in the box credits - for shame I say. Jeffrey Wright - also outstanding - deservedly won awards for his part in the film. Anyone looking for a film with great writing, pro-calibre perfromances and an occasional set of whimsy that most Python films - will find this film a good friend to spend 6 hours with....more info
- Wonderful film, great acting, fantastic sreenplay.
The title says it all really. This movie is not for the frail minded for sure, especially religious fanatics. But if you like art, and are able to see the grand in human relationships, check it out. If you are like me, you read the jacket and reviews the content of films before a purchase or rental. Sadly, many of the fanatical religious seem to only look at the pretty picture on the cover to decide to rent films. (snicker) Serves them right....more info
- Not as good as I expected
Based on a Broadway show, it is a good movie if you think of it as a film about how man handle crisis, the problem is that the script has too much Broadway on it, and when you do this in a movie it ends up looking overacted, exaggerated and too artistic. This is for me the main problem of "Angels in America", eventough I am a miniseries fan, I had to see this movie in almost 3 episodes, you get tired of the slow moving story. I wouldn't recomend it for miniseries loves, it is more for artistic or conceptual film fans....more info
It's time for the establishment to discover Jeffrey Wright. Like Don Cheadle, he immersess himself in characters....more info
- "Angel in America" a "Communist film"? WOW!
I sometimes wonder if some people bother to consider and genuinely think through what they're typing for sites like this. If they are "genuine", and not just ranting for the sake of it, I begin to wonder where these people come from, what their cultural location is. One of the eventualities of living in an age that is so besotted with the internet, with "open forums", is that now everyone can have their say, every social or political rant can "be heard", so to speak. The internet and some of the exclamatory fragments that become available through its medium (even at shopping sites like Amazon!?!) can become an interesting barometer of conservative hysteria and reaction. The review below mine was clearly written by someone articulate. Its content is, however, alarming and deluded. Tony Kushner is a "socialist" and "Angels in America" is couched in "Communist" rhetoric? Kushner is against American "free society", "freedom of choice" and "liberalism", is dangerously opposed to the "American dream" (etc.,etc.)?
What I always find interesting about rants like this is that words such as "Free Society", "Patriotism", "Democracy" (etc.) are always taken to be transparent, un-problematic terms in an immutable binary opposition, posited as "right" and "normal", with the other terms ("Communism", "Socialism", the "Left") are "abnormal", "wrong" and deviant. "Angels in America" deals precisely with the [O]ther term in the opposition: "homosexual", "AIDS", "Black", "Jew", "leftism" (not analogous to "Communism" by the way) in the face of the monolithic American conservatism of the 1980's that would ignore it. The reviewer below would crush Kushner's voice for being "anti-patriotic", hence "anti-American" while the film itself deals precisely with marginal communities that will not and CANNOT be recuperated into the kind of America that the reviewer un-problematically seems to posit as the "Real America". This image of America does not really have "free will" as its basis, as the reviewer would have us believe (via Walt Whitman!), but rather "conformity". I think people like this reviewer are so reductive, conservative, "silencing" and uncompromisingly "faithful" in their thinking that they are the dangerous ones, not Kushner and his justly oppositional voice. Although the terms in the opposition have changed (somewhat) since the 1980's - to get into it would require more space than is available here - the terrifying conservatism of the 80's is still with us. Not much changes. We still know our enemies.
- Horrible psuedo-intellectual rant against individualism
Tony Kushner's "Angels in America" is one of the most depressing films I've ever seen. Not so much for the pathetic list of self-loathing characters that are paraded before the hapless viewer, but for its sickening moralizing that American culture is to blame for all the world's woes, including AIDS. Kushner, a self-proclaimed socialist, doesn't condemn America for being not liberal enough; he criticizes America for being too liberal. "Angels in America" exposes an intense anger toward a society that permits far too much liberty. Living in a free society means one has to be responsible for one's own actions--and this Kushner detests. Freedom of choice means one might make the wrong decision. In America one has to weigh one's choices and live with the consequences. If you choose to go to a gay bath house and engage in sex with strangers rather than go to the library and read a volume of Walt Whitman's poetry, there will be different consequences for your actions. The freedom is yours. But Kushner hates freedom. Hence, his love affair with communist spy Ethel Rosenberg. Kushner conjures up dead communist spy Ethel Rosenberg in the form of an angel (played by Meryl Streep) who visits a suffering AIDS patient. His saintly portrayal of a woman who sold American military secrets to Soviets during the 1950 reveals just how deep Kushner's contempt for American society lies. Although Kushner only sees evil at all levels of American society, it was in socialist Cuba where dictator Fidel Castro was putting homosexuals in mental hospitals and prisons in order to contain AIDS there. Kushner accepts these Draconian actions taken by Castro. Papa Castro and Kushner are of the same ilk. It is free will and liberty which are the villains. Society needs restraints, defined moral structures, a "papa" to tell us from right and wrong so that we do not end up making the wrong choices. It is telling that the only redeemable character in this film is a masculine, independent, self-sufficient professional attorney and Mormon who has come to openly accept his homosexuality. This character is the "all-American" male: good-looking, strong, virile, self-sufficient, capable of making his own way. But in Kushner's world, these are evil attributes. In typical Leftist fashion, self-sufficiency, strength and independence are vilified as "bourgeois" and the character is degraded for failing to understand the "big picture" of socialist Utopianism. But whatever the case, the crux of "Angels in America" (the Angels, by the way, are the communists who walk among us evil capitalists) is a complete hatred for freedom and individuality. Do not be fooled by the subject matter into accepting Kushner's anti-American rants. People who liked this film are simple-minded sophists who think Oprah is more knowledgable on world affairs than Milton Freidman. For radicals like Kushner, all issues are reasons to perpetuate the communist "dream."...more info
I saw this DVD at the video store and thought it might be interesting to watch. The DVD box did not say what the movie was about, but I decided to rent and it and watch it at home. After watching the film, I was shocked that this film had won so many awards. I had a hard time watching this movie all the way thorugh because it was so boring. Watching movie about people with AIDS was extremly depressing. Also, I could not believe the pervertiveness of this movie. I would have to say that this movie is a bore sick movie....more info
- Pretentious Yet Childish
There are no extras on the DVD package, not even the obligatory HBO Presents documentary they do for other films. Otherwise, the positive elements are the cover art, and the basic 2-disk box. When it comes to the casting, the famous leads did not produce the best work in this series, let alone the best work of their careers, but they earned the accolades anyway. They were marquee value. However, Al Pacino does perform subtle work in his scenes with Joe Pitt (Patrick Wilson), a would-be son or convert, whom he is attempting to seduce to the dark side professionally and into a sexual relationship personally, but so refined about it, even the target doesn't have a clue: The editing spotlights Pacino's stroking Wilson's shoulder more than once to make sure the audience gets what is really going on. Often, though, Pacino is merely yelling at the top of his lungs as the serpent morphs into a spoiled brat. When it comes to Meryl Streep, with multiple roles, she is typical Meryl Streep, and nothing to be said for or against. She is just there. Emma Thompson is forgettable as a nurse, yet wonderful - even incandescent - as the angel who is visiting the "prophet" character of Pryor as he sinks in health due to AIDS. And another multiple-part actor is Jeffrey Wright, who is appearing all over the place here, but most important as Pryor's friend and Cohn's (Pacino's) nurse. But there is no reasonable excuse for having the multiple parts as-played-by-a-few-actors gimmick, not in the HBO production. This hurts the drama, though a case may be made that Emma is a sympathetic nurse and therefore assumes the guise of angel in Pryor's heated visions for that reason. As the nurse, she is there to witness Pryor's lover's abandonment. Why Streep would be a fifties' casualty as well as a concerned Mormon mother, I have no idea, as there is no link. The best lead acting comes from the actors Justin Kirk and Patrick Wilson, with Kirk as Pryor railing against his fate and his abandonment by his lover - Louis - and Wilson as Pitt, trying to reconcile the fact he is striving to be a perfect Mormon while also facing his attraction to men, and the fact he can't keep his wife satisfied, no matter how much he sublimates his true desires. He is the character having to face guilt whether he stays on with his current lifestyle or starts a new one. Complicating Pitt's decision process is his fear of abandoning his wife, Harper, who has a chemical dependency problem only more pronounced by her sexual frustration (she knows her hunky husband doesn't want her sexually; hell, even his nickname for her is 'buddy' and you can't get less sexual than that). So you have two characters hallucinating, Pryor and Harper, as they are the physically ailing ones suffering issues of abandonment and betrayal. Mary-Louise Parker as Harper is the same dry-wit sorry-for-myself character she has made a career of playing, it's become her schtick, and her most affecting scene is probably when she's facing her mother-in-law and pointing out the mannequin which has the same face as her husband - and the mannequin is representing the ideal of Mormon male heading out to new territory in spite of the dangers en route (Utah). In reality, Harper is on her own as her husband is investigating his new lifestyle like a committed zealot - but this is a journey Harper can't take with him. As a break from all the drama, most of the Harper and Pryor scenes are played for laughs, even Pryor's first glimpse of "malboro man" Pitt (Wilson). But Justin Kirk is able to utilize the liberation his character has so he seems the only person having fun. Patrick Wilson has the most complicated multi-dimensional character (the rest are two-dimensional) as we follow his agonizing cycle. For those keeping track, Kirk and Wilson do the stripping in the film, for Wilson maybe by rote a stripping as he did in the Broadway musical "The Full Monty," only this is for dramatic emphasis, even desperation, as his character is illustrating the breakthrough he has made, shedding his skin (clothing) literally and figuratively, removing even the underwear which is part of the Mormon uniform. The overall weakness of the play working against this splendid cast and all their efforts is the glorification of socialism against conservatism, in a quite simplistic sort of way - ANGELS IN AMERICA is truly a black-and-white film. And the ending of the film, which deals with certain characters' fates and not others, is sloppy. Finally, the immature intolerance displayed in the character of Louis, which hardly makes him the knight in shining armor I think the writer intends, perhaps the alter-ego of the author himself, makes a POV so pretentious seem quite childish. So it was a well-done, well-filmed production, with loads of small weaknesses. ...more info
- Five stars are not enough.
"Angels in America" is not merely a great play, like "Our Town," "Death of a Salesman," "A Streetcar Named Desire," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" it is one of the defining dramas of the American theatre - an absulte masterpiece - with a title now immediately recognised internationally by the common man.
This screen adaptation by Tony Kushner and Mike Nichols is an incredible achievement. Having read the play, and having seen it on stage, I was still unprepared for this epic production. I started crying during the first scenes. Streep's speech at the funeral - the eulogy - was so emotional I couldn't hold back my tears. It sounds so silly to say that Meryl Streep and Al Pacino are masterful, they're legends after all. Still, their work here reminds everyone of their status and why they are so deservedly praised and heaped with so many accolades. The rest of cast is outstanding. Mary Louise Parker and Jeffrey Wright won both the Emmy Award and Golden Globes (as did Streep and Pacino) and are staggeringly good, as are Ben Shankman, Patrick Wilson and Emma Thompson.
Kushner's writing is simply brilliant. Nichols direction is inspired (how could it not be?). Every single production element is award caliber. Thomas Newman deserves special praise for his haunting musical score. Words like landmark and masterpiece seems inadeqaute.I've never seen anything like this - and probably never will again in my lifetime. ...more info
- Powerful, beautiful, visionary
I did not see the play, but had heard it was good, though I stayed away because generally I am not a theater-goer. When it came on HBO, I recorded it, just to see what the whole hullabaloo was about....the Pullitzers, Tony's, et.al. I sat down to watch it, expecting the usual stagey-ness of most filmed plays, fully expecting to be unimpressed despite its reputation (I'd been fooled by fawning "theater people" one too many times). Six raptured hours later, I emerged from Tony Kushner's (book and screenplay), Mike Nichol's (director), and Thomas Newman's (music) masterpiece, changed forever as a human being. ...more info
- Brilliant Writing and Acting
I am an artist and writer and I believe this is one of the most important, brilliant movies of the decade. It is smart and funny. Sad and inspiring. One for the library....more info
- ANTI-AMERICAN, PRO-COMMUNIST RANT!
Tony Kushner's "Angels in America" is one of the most depressing films I've ever seen. Not so much for the pathetic list of self-loathing characters that are paraded before the hapless viewer, but for its sickening moralizing that American culture is to blame for all the world's woes, including AIDS. Kushner, a self-proclaimed socialist, doesn't condemn America for being not liberal enough, he criticizes America for being too liberal. "Angels in America" exposes an intense anger toward a society that permits far too much liberty. Living in a free society means one has to be responsible for one's own actions--and this Kushner detests. Freedom of choice means one might make the wrong decision. In America one has to weigh one's choices and live with the consequences. If you choose to go to a gay bath house and engage in sex with strangers rather than go to the library and read a volume of Walt Whitman's poetry, there will be different consequences for your actions. The freedom is yours. But Kushner hates freedom. Hence, his love affair with communist spy Ethel Rosenberg. Kushner conjures up dead communist spy Rosenberg in the form of an angel (played by Meryl Streep) who visits a suffering AIDS patient. His saintly portrayal of a woman who sold American military secrets to Soviets during the 1950 reveals just how deep Kushner's contempt for American society lies. Although Kushner only sees evil at all levels of American society, it was in socialist Cuba where dictator Fidel Castro was putting homosexuals in mental hospitals and prisons in order to contain AIDS there. Kushner accepts these Draconian actions taken by Castro. Papa Castro and Kushner are of the same ilk. It is free will and liberty which are the villains. Society needs restraints, defined moral structures, a "papa" to tell us from right and wrong so that we do not end up making the wrong choices. It is telling that the only redeemable character in this film is a masculine, independent, self-sufficient professional attorney and Mormon who has come to openly accept his homosexuality. This character is the "all-American" male: good-looking, strong, virile, self-sufficient, capable of making his own way. But in Kushner's world, these are evil attributes. In typical Leftist fashion, self-sufficiency, strength and independence (and Christianity) are vilified as "bourgeois" and the gay Mormon character is degraded for failing to understand the "big picture" of socialist Utopianism. But whatever the case, the crux of "Angels in America" (the Angels, by the way, are the communists who walk among us evil capitalists) is a complete hatred for freedom and individuality.
- Angels ?
Both my wife and I had to watch this mini series a couple of times to make any sense of it. The acting in most cases was good and at other times just plain stupid.Meryl Streep can do anything, from the Rabi to the windowed Morman wife who turned in to the best friend of the lead actors with or without AIDS.Emma Thompson on the other hand should have stayed away from the roll of the Angel.Al Pacino is another actor that can do anything. Playing a gay person proves it....more info
- An extraordinarily moving, complex piece of modern art...
There are so many things to say about ANGELS IN AMERICA, but each of them is as difficult to put into words as the last. To all of those who found this 6-hour adaptation of the play boring, consider looking beyond the superficial oddness and confusing nature of the story to its core. When you dig down deep, ANGELS is a story about coping with life, with heartbreak, with disease, and learning what it means to be human.
With this said, ANGELS is anything but easy to understand. Its references are as complex as they are hard-hitting, and it is as unforgivingly brutal in its honesty as it is right on the money. The AIDS epidemic of the mid-1980s is the focus of the work -- but on a broader level, it's a study of how individuals live and function in modern day America. The constant political references are apt to confuse all except the most politically-minded -- myself included -- so you may have to do a little reading and research to best understand the myriad references found herein. Still, ANGELS is a full-force criticism of political neglect and ignorance -- things which still abound today.
The storyline being as complex as it is, it's astounding to see such superb performances from the cast. Pacino, Streep, Thompson, Kirk, Shenkman, Parker, and Wright give brilliant performances that should not be missed. The anguish and strife of the time, combined with the difficulties of relationships and dealing with situations we simply have no control over, make this film a masterpiece of modern cinema.
Make no mistake -- this film is not something you should watch with the assumption that you'll leave it with a smile on your face and a warm feeling in your heart. It's honesty is piercing, and its sadness nearly heartbreaking. Still, there is always hope -- we have an incredible resistance to change, and yet we're amazingly resilient creatures. For better and for worse, we fight for what we believe -- as Prior says, we refuse to lay down anymore, to suffer and die in secrecy.
With unsurpassed poignancy, Kushner produces a tale that is sometimes funny and often heartwrenching. Thomas Newman's delicate compositions ring true in the background, as well -- his soundtrack is compelling and truly breathtaking. Prepare yourself for a brilliant work that won't leave your mind anytime soon -- if ever....more info
- A realistic saga
This movie is great! Al Pacino was fantastic, as was Jeffrey Wright, who've played a Hispanic drug-lord, to Muddy Waters. This is a must see film, which is very touching....more info
- "Angels" that need to be heard on high and on low
In spite of a few imperfection (intentional or otherwise) "Angels in America" was one of the most original and heartfelt works to have graced the American stage. AiA, the film, ably brings the play to the screen. It is original. It is funny. It is poignant. It is crude and even blasphemous. Above all it is honest. It is everything a non-religious religious movie ought to be.
In Ronald Reagan's America, the AIDS epidemic was cutting down young gay lives at a furious clip. Caught between the spread of a virulent infection and a society that relegated it to the margins, the [...] community was reeling. Treatments were rare, and those that existed were limited to drug trials, to which only the very lucky or the very powerful had access. It's against this backdrop of death and identity that AiA is set.
Playwright Tony Kushner does not paint every gay character as a saint or a hero. Some are power-mad, some cowardly, some just trying to survive, while some step up in best Florence Nightingale fashion to alleviate pain and bring hope. The film cuts between sets of lovers. Prior is suffering with AIDS, but his squeamish friend Louis (great when it comes to pronouncing sweeping theories) is unable to support Prior during his illness. A young Mormon couple-Joe and Harper-struggle through madness and a sexless marriage, mostly due to Joe's inability to accept his own sexuality. Al Pacino, in an Oscar-worthy performance, plays Roy Cohn as a man in love with himself and with power, who vehemently denies his [...], even as his body is being ravaged by HIV/AIDS. Throughout the personal struggles, the principals are beset by visions that challenge them, comfort them and give meaning to their suffering. Meryl Streep is perfect as Ethel Rosenberg-the voice of Kohn's withered conscience-whom an overzealous Kohn had railroaded (as AIA tells it) to the gas chamber. Prior is visited by Emma Thompson, as an angel who proclaims him a prophet. Harper retreats into drugged-out hallucinations that protect her from her own feelings of uselessness and worthless. Special mention goes to Jeffrey Wright, who plays nurse Belize, who ministers to his sick friends (and enemies) while doling out tough love that keeps them grounded in reality.
Redemption for these characters comes in facing truths about their characters. Those who accept the truth find peace and love; those who reject it, like Cohn, are doomed to die alone in their lies.
AiA is a masterpiece that uses the AIDS epidemic to strip away the masks of self-delusion and falsity that are the hallmark of humanity and the special curse of [...] in a homophobic society. The film's depictions of gay sexuality are frank and not always pretty. But by exposing the inner, hidden core of [...] humanity, the film shows [...] as persons of full human dignity who do not deserve suffering and death, but who soldier through its ravages with grace, love and courage....more info
- At last... Movie making has got its balls back!
If you are a religious fundamentalist, if you believe people do not have the right to live their life, if you believe in creative censorship, if you're a hypocrite... Please do not buy this DVD. Do not even think of hiring it! After a long time, director Mike Nicholls (of 'Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?' fame) combined his incomparable skills with profoundly erudite script written by Tony Kushner (on whose original award-winning play it is based) to produce one of the most memorable pieces of movie television history. HBO ought to be applauded for its support in this regard. Not since 'Philadelphia' has such a visionary movie been produced. It will instantly melt any open minded person, and is a morale booster for the browbeaten gay community and ostracised HIV postive people. The last episode is perhaps the best conceived notion of being human and alive!!! If you can afford it, this is one of the 'must-buy' movies......more info
I don't object to the content. I don't have any problem with Aids, other than losing a lot of friends to it and wishing it would go away. I just think this is a bad play. Bad, as in poorly written. I know it isn't politically correct to critisize books or movies or tv shows about Aids. And that means we're subjected to a lot of bad literature. This play/movie is awful....more info
- Political crying game
Stupid pointless movie unless your intent is to punish the Reagan white house for causing aids. We all know that Reagan and the Right wing were responsible and It couldn't have been anyones personal behavior right? All opinions about the subject aside. The movie was choppy and boring most of the time unless you have a fascination with aids and death. They really didn't need the angel....more info
- Angels in America
Movie was terrific!! We usually don't buy dvd's UNLESS we enjoyed the movie so much that we'd watch it again and again. This is one of those movies! First saw it on TV and while on Amazon for something else, thought of it and bought it. Story line, acting, special effects -- ALL were fantastic! Have already watched it again, this time with the kids (16 & 18 -- they hadn't seen it before) and they enjoyed it as well. It should have won an Oscar on a few levels, that's how good I thought it was....more info
- Well Performed , but just Lack of Attraction!
All the actors and actresses no doubtfully well performed in this TV show, but it is just lack of that certain attraction to drag me watching it till the end.
Maybe if this short TV show was convert into a regular 1.5-2 hours film, the result could have turned out better?...more info
You really need to watch this movie with an REALLY open mind. It's not just the content, but the material is very unothodox, but remember this was a Pulitzer Prize winning play. The standouts here are Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, they both are simply fantastic. Streep plays several roles, one which you will be shocked to find out is her, Pacino plays only one, the devil incarnate, Roy Cohn, but he makes it the most memorable in the film; the dialogue between Pacino's Cohn and Steeps Rosenberg is fantastic and fascinating. The main character, who is dealing with life with AIDS in the eighties is very well fleshed out, the actor playing him is very good, but his nebbish, Jewish partner is annoying as hell, not only is he a horrible person, but NOBODY could stand him for two minutes, much less four years, I could not understand what the main character ever saw in him..it sure was not looks, the guy looks like a bird of prey, uh think Vulture not Golden Eagle...the story about the mormon and his wife is the weakest in the movie, I found the Mormon guys story interesting, his confliction with being gay, married, Mormon and a Republican..(lord!!!)...but his wifes story and her hallucinations..which i didnt realize Vicodin could spawn..was just annoying to me..she was so shrill and uninteresting..but Streep as his mother was great. Really worth seeing, but open your mind and stay with it..you'll be glad you did...i think....more info