12/8/03

Angels in America

Saw the first half of "Angels in America."

Best thing I can say about Mike Nichols is, he doesn't ruin it. The CGI entrances and exits of the apparitions are annoying, and the angel (who turns out to be Emma Thompson) isn't half as impressive as, say, Terry Gilliam's in "Brazil" (maybe they should have let him co-direct). This was all done onstage, presumably (I saw it in Manila, not Broadway), so Nichols could have at least asked the people who staged it how they did it...and done better by just following their lead.

Some of the staging seems so uninspired--the intercutting between the Mormon telling his wife he's gay and the gay man telling his dying lover he's leaving him, I remember that onstage as being gripping theater. It's good drama, still, but cutting between two scenes in a film/tv show, that's not realizing the potentials of either stage or film, it's just plain old crosscutting.

Can't help wondering how Altman might have handled this...his style onscreen seems already theatrical, all those wide shots of the cast onscreen, talking at the same time, all those sinuous long takes that seem to imitate the audience's eyes panning from one end of the stage to the other...Nichols directs like a TV movie director with a big budget, but not much more.

That said, it's still recognizably Kurshner's "Angels"--a recklessly ambitious, wonderfully imaginative, even poetic panorama of life in the Reaganist '80s, and if I wanted to be fair, I'd suppose it's thanks to Nichols that most of the cast is terrific--Pacino as Cohn, Justin Kirk, Mary Louise Parker, Ben Shenkman, Jeffrey Wright...even Meryl Streep, who I'm not especially fond of, does funny work in various roles, but especially as the prim-mouthed Ethel Rosenberg.

3 comments:

prettie414ap said...

I'll guess i'll check it out when it is on again or if its on HBO on Demand.. :) I missed Looney Tunes.. :(

noelbotevera said...

It should be on HBO on Demand. Shouldn't it?

I mean, I may grouse about it and all, but it is worth catching and may be the single best thing shown on HBO this year. Mainly because of Kurshner, of course, and in spite of Nichols.

prettie414ap said...

It is.. I'll watch it when I have a chance.. Just started working yesterday.. Talk to you soon. Take care..