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Monday, September 27, 2004

Angels in America.

DVD reviewed by Duane Simolke for This Week In Texas

Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece actually encompasses the separate plays Part I: Millennium Approaches and Part II: Perestroika. After seeing a wonderful performance of Part I at Texas Tech University, I kept wanting to see Part II performed live. Instead, I saw both on HBO, adapted for television.

Mike Nichols, the director of Biloxi Blues, The Graduate, The Birdcage, and many other hit movies, brought his considerable talent to Tony Kushner’s screenplay. The resulting mini-series deserves the many Emmy nominations and awards it received.

As with the plays, some of the actors play multiple roles. Jeffrey Wright reprises his stage roles, joined by famous movie actors like Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, and Emma Thompson, as well as underrated independent movie actors like Justin Kirk and Mary-Louise Parker.

Examining how AIDS affected and changed America, Angels offers dreamlike story-telling and emotional performances. Despite its sometimes surreal vision of life during the 1980s, it encapsulates the human capacities for betrayal, denial, survival, acceptance, and compassion.

Jeffrey Wright used his Emmy win to call attention to how AIDS continues to devastate both Africa and African Americans, as well as to a need for films that deal with those issues. Hopefully, such projects would attract extraordinary talents like viewers will find with Angels in America.