Welcome to the Weekend Binge. Every Friday, we’ll suggest a binge-able title designed to keep you from getting too stir crazy. Check back throughout the weekend for even more gloriously queer entertainment.
The Fantasia on National Themes: Angels in America
Nothing we could write here could do full credit to Tony Kushner‘s epic work of drama, Angeles in America. It may well be the greatest work the American stage has yet produced. We don’t say that lightly.
The subsequent film version, directed by one of cinema’s greatest directors, Mike Nichols, does something miraculous: it preserves all the power, outrageousness, love and surreal rage of the stage version. It helps, of course, that Nichols assembles a staggering cast: Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeffrey Wright, Justin Kirk, Patrick Wilson, Emma Thompson, and more. It also helps that Tony Kusner penned the script himself, allowing for subtle edits to the text to reduce the runtime (Kushner has always aid Part 2 of the stage version is overlong), and to make for a more cinematic experience.
The plot, in case you don’t know: at the height of the AIDS epidemic, a dying gay New Yorker named Prior (Kirk) begins to have visions of an angel (Emma Thompson), and of a drug-addled housewife named Harper (Parker). Across town, Harper begins to suspect her Mormon husband Joe (Wilson), is secretly gay. Joe, meanwhile, has taken a job working with Roy Cohn (Pacino), the closeted Republican lawyer who hid his own AIDS diagnosis. As Prior’s condition worsens, the visions continue, building to a shocking revelation.
We can’t spill more than that here, other than to say that no other work has ever so encompassed the hope that is America, as well as the lies. This weekend, as America gives thanks, watch Angels in America as a way to reflect on the hope for a nation, and the moments of national shame she must never repeat, nor ever forget. The great work begins.
Streams on HBO Max, Hulu & YouTube.