Love, Bomer, and Compassion (Film Thoughts: The Boys In the Band, Netflix)

I was born a year before the original play of ‘The Boys In The Band’ was staged, but as a young gay man, everyone I met was referencing it, and its 1970 film to me. Someone told me you will understand yourself better after seeing the film. But when I finally saw it, I was nit really impressed. I think I was too young to fully understand it – a lot of the references went over my head. In my mind, it was a film that defined a certain generation of gay men, and it was one before mine.

Cut to now. It has been decades since I saw the original film, and there was a new revival on Broadway, this time with an all-gay cast. I thought the production was stellar, and here I am now, a middle aged gay man, and the play finally blossomed right in front of my eyes. I saw myself in some, even a couple, of characters. I finally got it, realizing its context in modern gay history.

And now most of that production has been adapted for a Netflix under the helm of the Broadway director, Joe Mantello. And in this medium, the play even blossoms more. For me, the cast brings most of it to life. I had never been a major fan of Jim Parsons (I think all his characters act the same) but he was able to give his Michael here a lot of depth. In the original play, Matt Bomer’s Donald is probably thought to be more neurotic, but in today’s world, he comes off as very ordinary and plain, and even bland. Bomer isn’t the most exciting actor, and the character comes off more like paper. Zachary Quinto’s Harold is great, and the actor is more than game for the role. And Robin de Jesus’s showy role is just as colorful on screen Everyone gets a moment, and even Charlie Carver registers his handsomeness ten times more in 1080 pixels.

But above all, this is. perfect way to view gay life then. Stonewall hasn’t happened yet, and the world is starting to get more comfortable with homosexuality, though most of these characters still have a lot of guilt and shame. The world is better now in a lot of ways, but curiously, some of their issues still exist.

Letting Jake Be (Movie Thoughts: A Kid Like Jake)

kljSince June is Pride Month, I guess I should open it by writing about a film somewhat about the LGBTQIA experience. (In this ever-evolving world, I myself had to google what the QIA meant in this new acronym)

‘A Kid Like Jake’ is about a Park Slope couple who has a son who is described by his teachers as ‘gender expansive.’ Really – it’s a little boy who likes to dress up in princess costumes. Jim Parsons and Claire Danes play a couple who are presumably liberal, but is faced with this dilemma when the situation falls in their own backyard. Danes’ character thinks it’s some sort of phase (perhaps she is in denial?) while Parson’s character, a therapist, muses that perhaps Jake needs to seek professional advise.

The film is on the chatty side, perhaps because writer Daniel Pearle adapted it from his play.  And it took me a while to get into it, but once I did, I enjoyed if for anything the performances, especially Dane’s. Even though Jake has the title role, we know really not much about him (on the play, he is not seen at all, just talked about) and I wish there were more of him, so we could understand his character better. But this is a very interesting topic, and the film will make you ponder how you stand in this issue.