Sunday, October 26, 2008

Angels in America

One of my angels in america loftier goal of things to do during my time off was to finally watch Angels in America.

I had heard a lot of great stuff about it, both in print and from friends that had watched it, and they all sang its praises. It has an amazing cast including Mary Louise Parker and Justin Kirk (both of Weeds), Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson and Jeffery Wright. It is directed by Mike Nichols (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate, Closer) who is always a solid film maker, and even when he fails (Wolf), he does it interestingly.  The mini-series was written by Tony Kushner, adapted from his play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.

I have always thought that the mark of a really great movie (or in this case, mini-series) is that it remains with you long after you have viewed it. However, after watching Angels in America, what remains on my mind is “what did I miss?”

On Rotten Tomatoes it has garnered a very respectable 82%, and the IMDB user rating is 8.3 Stars, very high for an IMDB rating.  While I didn’t hate Angels in America, I certainly didn’t love it as it seems so many others have. With a 6 hour running time, I was expecting much more – not that I wanted some huge sweeping epic saga, it was that I was expecting something more intricate and meaty that I would be immersed into and leave me pondering its rich prose and web of themes and sub themes.

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Instead what I got were a few interesting characters, a couple of  interesting (though not especially original) ideas, and of course, several excellent performances.

So after watching the 6 hour stage-to-screen translation, and spending nearly two weeks reflecting… what could have eluded me? I have to think there was more to it than sickness, despair and the idea that god has abandoned us. I really want to believe there was more. Surely I am not so thick that I am unable to get it? Am I? Perhaps the deep themes are hiding like Waldo. Perhaps if I unfocused my eyes, I will see the 3D themes immerge.I have wanted to cheat, start reading some reviews and articles that may be out there to help me understand what makes this so “important” and beloved. I keep thinking that if I do though, I will only start seeing what has been pointed out.  and then I am just squinting at the Emperor's New Clothes.

emma thompson


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