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Angels In America (HBO)  [DVD] 
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HBO's highly acclaimed heavyweight six-hour TV drama, adapted from two Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway plays by Tony Kushner, 'The Millennium Approaches' and 'Perestroika'. Kushner also wrote the screenplay for the TV adaptation, which stars Hollywood stalwarts Al Pacino and Meryl Streep alongside British actors Emma Thompson, Michael Gambon and Simon Callow. Set in a turbulent New York City in the mid-1980s, the drama follows the interconnected lives of various New Yorkers affected by issues of the day including the conservative Reagan administration, AIDS, religious bigotry, angst about their sexuality - and miraculous spiritual visitations. The drama won six Golden Globe awards, including 'Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television'.
Tony Kushner's prize-winning play Angels in America became the defining US 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 theatre-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, 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) 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)--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), his determined but open-minded mother Hannah (Meryl Streep), a fierce drag queen/nurse named Belize (Jeffrey Wright, 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 FetzerSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The script is out of this world - witty, sincere, affecting and - most importantly of all - so, so real. Tony Kushner touches every corner of our hearts with his words, always full of thought and meaning. He tackles important issues - AIDS, race, love - with tremendous understanding and sensitivity.
But without a doubt, the crowning triumph of the whole enterprise - and this is saying something, given the quality of all other facets - is the acting. From Al Pacino's heartless Roy Cohn to Meryl Streep's Rabbi/Mother Pitt to Emma Thompson's Angel/Nurse/Homeless Person, including Patrick Wilson, Justin Kirk, Ben Shenkman, Jeffrey Wright and (especially) Mary Louise Parker, there is no praise high enough. These surely must be performances of a lifetime, and I certainly cannot envisage a better ensemble.
Breathtaking. Outstanding. Out of this world.
I can say with all honesty that this film has changed my life.
HBO have become a centre for excellence. Angels is a jewel in their crown. Wonderful direction, moving music, incredible writing, superb acting.
Tony Kushner's extraordinary stage plays were wonderful theatrical events because you could see the wires and were hyper aware of the theatricality of the whole event.. some of this has been lost but more than made up for by the incredible CGI additions. Things that were troubling in the staging become moments of humour and wonder. Never has the angel been so awsome, haunting and beautiful.
Kushner dares us to pay attention by writing long and involved scenes. He doesn't seek to ease the audience by cutting between lots of short scenes. He gives his characters the ability to voice themselves even in the depths of pain, sorrow or madness. Their voices cry out for themselves and for all humanity. This is a time specific play but universal in it's themes. They are specific characters but speak for us all.
Dismiss this at your peril.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'd heard so many wonderful things about this, and though I would usually read a play before I watch, I'm afraid I couldn't resist this daydream casting, and I was right to be so... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Delivery 10 days earlier than planned and good quality itemPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Pretty brilliant, save it for when you want to lie on the couch for a whole afternoon. Acting tour de force by all concerned. Read morePublished 2 months ago by BermondseyStu
A beautiful piece on epic themes. There are times when the translation for stage work to film seems a little clunky, and I found myself imagining it in the theatre as I watched it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by coquadrille
One of the best plays ever written and the film is equally as good.Published 3 months ago by Johnny60
A brilliant series.
Dealing with the scourge of aids and how it affects lthe life of its' victims.
Powerfully acted and very moving.
Well worth watching.