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.
A lot of people have branded John Butler’s ‘Papi Chulo’ as the gay ‘Green Book,’ and it does, in the worst ways. A lot of time the movie feels awkward and tone deaf, and I have to confess that there were moments when I cringed. Butler means well, but Matt Bomer’s character, Sean, reads really selfish and self-righteous, if not outright dumb. The film highlights Bomer’s deficiencies as an actor – that glossy eye really makes his character look more vapid than it needs to be.
But you know what? There’s an element in the film that really got to me – and it’s how it showed loneliness, and how it can lead you to feel a lot of things, and how it can make you act foolishly. Maybe because I have been there myself, and I see how it affected how I reacted to things. Maybe that’s why that despite its deficiencies, by the end of the film, I felt like I needed to take a walk. I just hope I don’t end up near a hardware store.
In my never-ending search for rom-coms, I stumble upon really bad ones. ‘Off The Menu,’ directed by Jay Silverman, is really bad. I was drawn to it because it stars Santino Fontana, who is a sometime Broadway actor, and sometime Disney Prince, and he is fine here, but he also seems miserable being in it. The screenplay is by-the-books in the worst possible way, and not even the presence of Maria Conchita Alonso as a spicy hot mama can save it.
Susan Sarandon wants to save her kidnapped son in Syria in ‘The Viper Club,’ and she displays subdued scting here that is very effective. The rest of the movie, directed by Maryam Keshavarz, is ho-hum at best, with its plodding pacing. Matt Bomer is wasted as his son’e best friend. if you have to, see this for Sarandon’s performance, but I just can’t shake that she is a Trump supporter in real life, so I cannot fully empathize with the character. I know that is on me, but this is where I am in the world right now.
‘Anything’ is about a Early Landry (played by John Carroll Lynch) who had a recent tragedy in his life and because of this has to move to Los Angeles. The film, written and directed by Timothy McNeill, is also based on his play ‘Anything,’ and at times the film does feel stage-y. But it’s well-meaning, and I really liked this film, even though I have some reservations with it. First of all, I think I had some problem with its pacing, with it starting slow, and just as when things started to pick up, it was already ending. I also know that there was a lot of disappointment when Matt Bomer was cast in the role of Freda von Rhenburg. A lot of people said that the role should have gone to a trans woman. there are very few roles available for transgendered people as it is, should Bomer take one away from them? My response to that after seeing the film? This role is thankless, and really, it could have been played by anyone and I don’t think it would have mattered. Bomer does well here, and though the role is showy, it’s written thinly, and there’s only so much one actor can do to make it meatier. All in all this film is about Early Landry – he is the heart and soul of the piece.
Have I said I liked it? I surely can identify with Landry’s character as a resent transport to the Los Angeles area. And I am in love with the love story here. ‘Isn’t it just love?’ one character says and the film shows how gender, orientation, and everything else can be bypassed all in the name of what one feels for another. There is a scene when where everything blows up courtesy of Maura Tierney’s character (she play’s Early’s well-meaning but pushy sister) and I found myself weeping after – there was something really special and meaningful there and I think the Universe sent that to me. I needed to hear that message right now. There are a lot of ordinary things here, but the film’s heart is extraordinary.