Tag Archives: Movies

15 Reasons We Love Dishing on the Oscars

Host Neil Patrick Harris is set.

Host Neil Patrick Harris is set.

We love talking and reading about the Oscars as much as we love going to the movies, it seems. And as Oscar Night has morphed into Awards Season, there’s more to read about the Academy Awards than ever.

Here’s a list of 15 fun or smart pieces I’ve come upon recently, broken up into categories – from storytelling to fashion, from diversity to travel and parties.

DIVERSITY

All 20 acting nominees are white, and many observers complain that “Selma” was the victim of the mostly white Academy’s tendency to ignore achievements by African-Americans.

1. Oscar spotlight draws attention to movie industry’s failure to reflect a diverse America, from The Associated Press.

The lack of nominations for “Selma” director Ava DuVernay and star David Oyelowo were a particular flashpoint, viewed by many as unjust oversights not only because they merited honoring, but because their absences furthered an ignoble Oscar history.

2. Martyred genius Alan Turing of “The Imitation Game” spawned this piece: Why do gay characters have to die in order for actors to get Oscar nominations?

BRUTAL HONESTY FROM VOTERS

th-13. The Hollywood Reporter talked to a voter about “Selma,” who said, “There’s no art to it.”

4. And another who didn’t ‘get’ the movie “Birdman” and found  “Whiplash” offensive

MARKETING/STORYTELLING

5. How content marketers can learn from Hollywood’s menu of offerings, from the Spin Sucks column for marketing and PR pros.

Profits from big summer blockbusters and popcorn thrillers can help to offset smaller returns on indie films and niche documentaries.

Each type of movie content has its place in the overall scheme.

Just as production companies need to produce different types of movies, your content strategy needs to include different types of content.

6. How Marketers can win the Oscars.

No award show is bigger than the Oscars. Last year, 43 million people tuned in, earning it the largest nonsporting television audience since the finale of Friends. But the event isn’t just about a few hours on a TV screen. Through digital, audiences are engaging with the Academy Awards well before, during, and after the actual event. On Google alone, there were tens of millions of Oscar-related searches last year. It would likely take decades to watch the variety of Oscar-related content on YouTube. This all adds up to many new opportunities for brands to participate in these massive cultural moments beyond the telecast.

7. Do you trust your audience? Storytelling lessons from a great movie

JUST FOR FUN

Here's hoping for a bumpy night. (Notable loser: Bette Davis did not win for her greatest role, in "All About Eve.")

Here’s hoping for a bumpy night. (Notable loser: Bette Davis did not win for her greatest role, in “All About Eve.”)

8. How to throw an Oscar party — my piece on Coca-Cola’s Journey site.

9. From The New York Times, 8 trips inspired by Oscar-nominated films – including a visit to The Martin Luther king, Jr., National Historic Site in Atlanta.

10. How movie fans are voting on Twitter.

11. A look inside the swag bags worth $167,000 that even the losers get.

12. Download the nominated scripts for free.

13. From Groot to Godzilla, Visual Effects Oscar Hopefuls Reveal Their CG Secrets.

LOOKING BACK

14. Harper’s Bazaar has pictures of all the Best Actress dresses through the decades.

15. Oscar has had his regrets, particularly about ‘Crash’ — Academy members reassess past Oscar decisions.


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Oscars Get Personal with Sweet Support from the Academy

Jim Farmer, gay film festival, Out on Film, Atlanta, Oscars

Jim Farmer’s passion for movies drives Atlanta’s Out on Film.

Like millions of movie fans, Jim Farmer will be glued to the tube for Sunday’s Academy Awards.

But this year, Farmer — a lifelong Oscar fanatic — has an extra reason to be excited. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences gave his Out on Film festival its first-ever national grant for its most recent event. And more than just the money came the acknowledgement and exposure that only Hollywood’s biggest guns can provide.

Out on Film is Atlanta’s annual gay film festival, which Farmer has programmed since 2008. It’s grown every year since then, to a record attendance of 8,000 in 2014. Over the course of a week right before the annual gay Pride celebration, Out on Film presents more than 100 movies at Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema.

Farmer’s focus from the start was on branding Out on Film as a vital, independent celebration — with consistent scheduling (year-round events, but with the festival always the first week in October) and high-quality programming.

“When it comes to marketing and putting butts in seats, you could get a ‘naked guy’ movie and sell out every time,” says Farmer, who has worked in theater marketing and entertainment journalism.  “But we focus on quality films that otherwise might not make it to Atlanta, and also on the diversity within the LGBT community.”

The Oscar grant helped secure last fall’s opening night, with a red carpet and appearances by the makers and some cast members of “Blackbird,” which stars Mo’Nique and will be released widely in April.

“We try to focus on our festival as an event,” Farmer says. “It’s not just seeing a movie. You can watch a movie on your iPhone these days. But there’s nothing quite like seeing a film that is a story about us, for us, told by our filmmakers and experienced together.”

Alec Mapa, Out on Film, Atlanta, gay film festival, Oscars, Jim Farmer

Guests have included actors like Alec Mapa, on the right.

Grants don’t come easy, of course. At the same time the Academy shared its gift, the state of Georgia declined to support the festival, although it had for two previous years.

“It gives us a lot of momentum,” Farmer says about the Oscar grant. “We reached a lot of people last year that we had never reached. The Academy put us on their website. The Academy issued a press release… It was tremendous in terms of the exposure and awareness that we got.”

And more personally, it was a shot of confidence for Farmer, who grew up watching the Oscars and hangs on every development of awards season.

He’ll be at home with his partner Sunday night, not at a party where people might talk over the broadcast. “I don’t care if it lasts four hours. I don’t care if the speeches are long and rambling. I want to see every moment and hear every word.”

And maybe offer up his own version of “I’d like to thank the Academy…”

Jim Farmer’s Oscar predictions

Farmer says it’s easier to call many top categories nowadays, with so many pre-Oscar awards.

But he agrees that three top categories are a lock for Julianne Moore (Best Actress in “Still Alice”), Patricia Arquette (Best Supporting Actress for “Boyhood”) and J.K. Simmons (Best Supporting Actor for “Whiplash”).

After that, thing’s get a little more exciting He sees tight races between “Boyhood” and “Birdman” for Best Picture and Best Director, and expects “Birdman” star Michael Keaton to edge out Eddie Redmayne from “The Theory of Everything” for Best Actor.


 

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A Former Civil Rights Reporter Shares His Thoughts on ‘Selma’

My former newspaper colleague Walter Cumming shared his interview with his father, a former Newsweek reporter who covered the Civil Rights Movement. Walter spoke with his father about that era and then they went to see “Selma.” This is great stuff and I want to share it. Enjoy.

LIVE ART, Oeuvres nouveau, NEUE KUNST

Joe Cumming leaving theatre
Last Friday, I interviewed my Father about his experience in 1965 as a Newsweek reporter in Selma Alabama.
The next day, at my urging, we watched the Ava Duvarnay’s film “Selma”. Here is my follow up interview with him immediately after the viewing:
Me- “So Daddy, as a work of art, how was the movie to you?”
Joe- “Well see, I’m of a different generation. In truth, having been there, as you say, it was very dramatic. But this over did the drama from my point of view. But that doesn’t speak for a generation that would get a lot out of it.
There was no falsehood but that LBJ thing did give him a bad rap.”
Me- “You interviewed George Wallace right?”
Joe – “Oh yeah, I knew him real well…”
Me- “What did you think of his portrayal in the movie (by UK actor Tim Roth)?”
Joe-“I didn’t…

View original post 381 more words

PHOTO TOUR: Neglected Theater Gets a Loving — and Fabulous — Rebirth

Before: Faded. Today: Happy.

Before: Faded. Today: Happy. Photo gallery below.

For movie lovers, there’s nothing sadder than an old, abandoned theater – and nothing as glorious as a fabulously restored one.

For a perfect example, look to Lebanon, Tenn., a small town about 30 miles east of Nashville and its Capitol Theatre.

I’ve been visiting Lebanon my whole life, since first my aunt and uncle and now my mother and step-father live there. And even as a kid, I was struck by The Capitol’s faded, forgotten beauty. It reminded me of “The Last Picture Show,” and I longed for someone to see its potential and resurrect it, despite the changes brought by multiplexes and home video.

Now Pam and Bob Black have done just that.

They gave me a tour on Friday, and what a great day-after-Christmas present.

Old Hollywood and On

The Capitol opened with fanfare and a Betty Grable picture in 1949, steps from the Town Square. Like everything else in the South, the theater was segregated, so black people had to sit upstairs. After The Capitol closed in 1981, it came to symbolize the fading core of the town as Wal-Mart and chain restaurants took most of the business closer to I-40 a couple of miles away.

Lebanon, Tennessee, Capitol Theatre, Theater, small town, movies, plays, concerts, venue, wedding receptions, Betty Grable, old movies

Pam and Bob Black in the lobby of their labor of love.

Then, Pam and Bob bought The Capitol and, in 2011, began their meticulous, loving restoration and improvement.

“We felt there was a need to keep it alive,” Bob said. “We heard that someone was going to tear it down, and we couldn’t possibly think of that happening.”

Open since summer 2013, it’s beautiful inside, with original and new Art Deco features; state-of-the-art projection for classic movies; first-class acoustics for live music; and flexibility to host receptions and community events.

The auditorium in another before-and-after

The auditorium in another before-and-after

It’s no insult to the rest of Lebanon to say there’s nothing like The Capitol in town – or probably anywhere in the area until you get to Music City.

Like a Mini-Fox in Atlanta

Now it reminds me of a smaller version of The Fox Theatre in Atlanta. And I hope Pam and Bob find success with concerts like the Variety Playhouse and others in Atlanta – or the Franklin Theatre just south of Nashville. There’s a magic to places like The Capitol that new projects can’t match.

“We try to use it as an avenue for local events,” Bob said. “There’s really no place around where we can do weddings, corporate events, live music, musical theater, dinner theater… we can try and do about everything that there is. We’re very excited about the acceptance that we’ve had in town.”

In recent years, trendy boutiques have popped up on The Square next to ancient shops selling antiques. And The Square itself is currently getting a facelift.

It’s not too much to hope The Capitol will encourage future redevelopment and vitality in Lebanon. Some high-profile concerts, a smart series of movies, a packed calendar of weddings, class reunions and the like?

Just take a look. (Click on a picture to enlarge it. Mouse over to see caption.)

 

Remember Robin Williams with a Crowd at Atlanta’s Plaza Theatre Tribute

The Birdcage, Robin Williams, death, suicide, depression, addiction, gay, homosexual, comedy, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman, Mike Nichols, Miami, remake, comedy, Plaza Theatre, Film Tribute, Atlanta

The Plaza, 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave, N.E. (404) 873-1939

Fans of Joan Rivers have YouTube to catch clips of the comedienne, who died Thursday at 81. So do Robin Williams lovers — who also have the Oscar winner’s rich movie legacy to enjoy. And in Atlanta, The Plaza Theatre is offering four of the late comic’s movies right now, along with a couple of unrelated classics always worthy of a spot on the marquee: “Pulp Fiction” and “Stop Making Sense.”

I love “The Fisher King,” which I saw just once in its original 1991 release, and “The Birdcage,” which has grown more familiar as a staple of cable TV for the last decade. The Plaza also is showing “Jumanji,” one of Williams’s family pictures, and “Hook,” with an all-star cast directed by Steven Spielberg.

The Birdcage, Robin Williams, death, suicide, depression, addiction, gay, homosexual, comedy, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman, Mike Nichols, Miami, remake, comedy, Jeff Bridges, The Fisher King, Mercedes RuehlThe Birdcage, Robin Williams, death, suicide, depression, addiction, gay, homosexual, comedy, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman, Mike Nichols, Miami, remake, comedyMovies are almost always better viewed on the big screen with crowds. And both “The Fisher King” and “The Birdcage” are full-on movies by major directors — gloriously visual and sweepingly emotional. At a time when Williams’s fans are still mourning his recent suicide, what better way to come together and celebrate his genius? YouTube is fine for some things, but only some.

In Atlanta, The Plaza is one of several theaters that regular give us chances to see older movies, and I’m thankful for all of them. Here’s an earlier piece that includes highlights from recent schedules of some around town. I hope we get more heading into the holiday season.

All of the venues, plus Netflix, TMC and Videodrome, helped me catch up on my classics over the summer.  I’m so glad I got to see these, which I hadn’t just a few months ago:

  • “Sullivan’s Travels”
  • “A Face in the Crowd”
  • “The Searchers”
  • “A Hard Day’s Night”
  • “It Happened One Night”
  • “The Best Years of Our Lives”
  • “Touch of Evil”

That’s a good group. My DVR holds a few more, and “The 400 Blows” has arrived from Netflix. So I’m ready for football season.

And a trip or two to The Plaza.


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Where to Catch Great, Old Movies on the Big Screen around Atlanta

denver, atlanta, ogden theater, revival house, movies, old movies, classics, lawrence of arabia, the searchers, bette davis, jay croft, kevin dandy, gateway high school, 1970s

Down on Colfax — Music now, great movies back in the day

I used to love seeing old movies on the big screen of Denver’s Ogden Theatre, downtown on Colfax.

I live in Atlanta now, and The Ogden is a concert venue. But back in the pre-VHS era, you could see a different classic double-feature every night. Maybe two with the same star, theme or director.

Other cities had theaters like The Ogden. And when I went to college, the film society did its part.

It’s just not the same watching something like “Lawrence of Arabia” at home, no matter how big your plasma screen. And there was something social, too, in joining an audience of highly engaged fans that you can’t get with family or friends alone.

The Searchers, John Wayne, John Ford, Atlanta, Landmark Midtown, old movies, classic movies, revivals, where to see old movies on big screen, denver, ogden theatre

No. 12 on ew.com’s list

On Tuesday night, I got to experience a little of the old magic at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta, which screened “The Searchers” as the opening of its Tuesday series of Westerns. (Next week: “Once Upon a Time in the West.”)

We recently had the chance to see “The Godfather” at Phipps and “King Kong” at The Fox. “Annie Hall” is getting a little rollout this year in some cities, but not Atlanta yet. And, hey, Georgia State, what’s happened to Cinefest? I saw “Mean Streets” there a decade ago; the latest “Captain America” will be just fine On Demand, thanks.

Here is a collection of titles, dates and locations for other one-off showings of older movies coming up around metro Atlanta. (Read about my summer catching up on ew.com’s Top 100 Greatest Movies of All Time. And why you must see the Roger Ebert documentary.)

Share memories of your own Ogden-like experiences. And let us know of other classics coming soon. Later, I will try to interview some of the folks behind the effort to bring us these opportunities.

But I wanted to get this out right away because “Blue Velvet” is at The Plaza on Thursday.

LANDMARK MIDTOWN ART CINEMA

Tue, Jul 15: Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), starring Henry Fonda.

Tue, Jul 22: George Roy Hill’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Tue, Jul 29: Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969), starring William Holden.

Tue, Aug 5: Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1992), starring Eastwood, Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman.

Tue, Sep 16: This Is Spinal Tap (1984), directed by Rob Reiner.

Tue, Sep 23: Ran (1985), directed by Akira Kurosawa. 35mm print!

Tue, Sep 30: Jules and Jim (1962), directed by François Truffaut.

Tue, Oct 7: M (1931), directed by Fritz Lang.

Tue, Oct 14: Toyko Story (1953), directed by Yasujirô Ozu.

Tue, Oct 21: Lord of the Flies (1963), directed by Peter Brook.

Tue, Oct 28: Elevator to the Gallows (1958), directed by Louis Malle. 35mm print!

Tue, Nov 4: I Vitelloni (1953), directed by Federico Fellini. 35mm print!

Tue, Nov 11: Contempt (1963), directed by Jean-Luc Godard.

COCA-COLA SUMMER FILM FESTIVAL AT THE FOX THEATER

July:

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (50th Anniversary) Thursday, July 24 at 7:30 PM
 Movie Tours at 5 PM and 5:10PM

Gone With The Wind (75th Anniversary) 
Sunday, July 27 at 2 PM

The Philadelphia Story
 Thursday, July 31 at 7:30 PM 
Movie Tours at 5 PM and 5:10 PM

August: 

Saturday Morning Cartoons
 Saturday, August 2 at 10 AM

Mamma Mia!
 Saturday, August 2 at 7:30 PM
Movie Tours at 5 PM and 5:10 PM

Young Frankenstein (40th Anniversary) Blazing Saddles (40th Anniversary) 
Sunday, August 3 at 2 PM

Double Indemnity (70th Anniversary)
 Thursday, August 14 at 7:30 PM
 Movie Tours at 5 PM and 5:10 PM

Mary Poppins Sing-A-Long (50th Anniversary)
 Sunday, August 17 at 2 PM
 Movie Tours at 11:30 AM and 11:40 AM

The Women (75th Anniversary)
 Thursday, August 21 at 7:30 PM 
Movie Tours at 5 PM and 5:10PM

THE PLAZA THEATER

Thursday, July 10, Blue Velvet (R)
 Thu: 7:30 PM

Alien (1979) (R) 
Fri: 9:30 PM
Sat – Tue: 7:20 PM
Wed: 6:50 PM
Thu: 9:30 PM

Star Wars July 18

2001 July 25

Follow these and other theaters on social media to stay on top of things. Without a central spot like The Ogden down on Ole Colfax, it’s hard to keep track of opportunities that pop up.


 

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Roger Ebert’s Love for Movies, Empathy and ‘Life Itself’ in a Powerful New Documentary

roger ebert, siskel and ebert, at the movies, reviews, life itself, chaz, chaz ebert,

Roger Ebert, at the movies

We all are born with a certain package. We are who we are. Where we were born. Who we were born as. How we were raised. We’re kind of stuck inside that person. And the purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize a little bit with other people. And for me the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams, and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us.

This quote comes from the late film critic Roger Ebert at the start of the new documentary about him, “Life Itself.” It’s a powerful quote to set the tone for Ebert’s story, which cancer ended last year. And it applies to storytelling across the board, maybe even all art.

The compelling movie is a must-see for anyone who loves movies or stories of any kind, good writing, newspapers, thoughtful criticism, the evolution of mass media — and love stories. Ebert’s intense love-hate friendship with TV partner Gene Siskel, whom cancer claimed a few years earlier, is rich and complicated and uniquely compelling, as anyone who watched their movie review shows can remember. Ebert’s wife, Chaz, emerges as a powerful, loving force in the happy days of their relationship and also in Ebert’s illness, which robbed him of the ability to speak but never, to the end, the ability to share words via his laptop and voice-activation system.

Humans tell stories for a number of reasons, and movies aren’t the only art form to help us feel for other people, to understand their points of view, struggles and beliefs. But it’s Ebert’s unexpected legacy to leave his own story, even his own movie, as a bittersweet reminder of the transcendent power of empathy.

“Life Itself” is currently in theaters and available On Demand and iTunes.


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3 Pieces of Advice from a Hollywood Publicist in Georgia

PRSA Georgia, PRSA, Maggiano's, advice, publicist, movie, tv, production, atlanta, georgia,

Denise Godoy

Denise Godoy is an on-set publicist for movies and TV shows. She spoke on a panel last week in Atlanta about film and TV production in Georgia, a booming business with “The Hunger Games” sequels, “The Walking Dead” and lots more. (Read my post from the event, put on by the Public Relations Society of America’s Georgia chapter.)

I saved a little morsel Godoy shared because I thought it deserved its own space — even if you’re nowhere near show business.

“The big three lessons I’ve learned is, first, answer your emails. Even if it’s just to say, ‘I don’t know the answer to that but I will get back to you.’ You really want to be perceived as being an effective and communicative person.

“No. 2, Don’t take things personally. I get yelled at every day and trust me, it has nothing to do with me … The director’s in a bad mood, I’m in the way of the wardrobe department…

“The third is to not be emotional. This is your job, that’s it. There’s no emotions involved,” she said, wrapping it up with, yep, a movie quote. “There’s no crying in baseball.”

Good advice? What do you think?


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Money, Katniss and Grits: 6 Insider Bits on Georgia Movie, TV Production

The Hunger Game, Catching Fire, katniss, Atlanta, Georgia, movie and tv productions, filming, hollywood of the south, y'allywood, Jay Croft, storycroft

Part of the movie was filmed on sets inside the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta.

Call it the Hollywood of the South or, better yet, Y’allywood.

We’ve all watched as Georgia became a hub for film and TV production in the last few years. At the movies, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing shots of Piedmont Park and the Midtown skyline, and films being shot here like “The Blind Side,” “42” and “The Hunger Games” sequels. From TV, we might bump into stars from “The Walking Dead” or “Drop Dead Diva” at Whole Foods.

On Thursday, I attended a panel discussion on the topic hosted by the Georgia chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. Here are a half-dozen takeaways.

  • Hollywood’s economic impact here grew from $244 million in 2011 to $4 billion last year, according to Lee Thomas, deputy commissioner in the state Department of Economic Development’s film division.
  • Currently, 16 series, two pilots, two movies-of-the-week and 11 feature films are in production in the state, she said.
  • The tipping points: economic incentives,  “The Hunger Games” sequels (which required their own huge sound stages) and…
  • The Walking Dead, AMC, zombie, apocalypse, Doug Fick, art director, sets, Atlanta, TV show, prison, Woodbury, filmed in Atlanta, TV shows and movies filmed in Georgia, Katniss, Hunger Games, Catching Fire

    Hey, that skyline looks familiar…

    … “The Walking Dead,” the hugely popular series about hordes of flesh-eating zombies that’s filmed mostly outdoors just south of Atlanta and has spawned tours for fans. “That show is a monster — literally,” said co-panelist Rodney Ho of the AJC.

  • Its creator provided the soundbite du jour, via Thomas. “Frank Darabont described Atlanta as The Devil’s Hot Tub.” (Read my interview with the show’s art director.)
  • James Anderson, of Turner and The Cartoon Network, worked for years in “the business” in LA and remembers a  bellwether Variety article pointing out “runaway productions” to the place Down South where people “eat shrimp and grits.” Now here for going on nine years, he works with, among many others, the Atlanta-born Adult Swim.

On-set publicist Denise Godoy shared advice so good and universal that I’m saving it for a later post. (Here it is.)

The discussion’s moderator was my friend and fellow movie lover Stephen Brown, incoming president of PRSA Georgia, managing director at Cohn & Wolfe and critic at SilverScreenCapture.com.


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‘The Normal Heart’ and How a Story Evolves

The Normal Heart, HBO, Larry Kramer, Jane Pauley, The Today Show, NBC, Harold Jaffe, AIDS, HIV, early AIDS, 1983, early TV report about AIDS

Watch this Today interview with Larry Kramer from 1983. Fascinating and frightening.

It’s lucky for “The Normal Heart” that it took almost three decades for the play about early AIDS activism to get made into a movie.

That gift of time lets the movie present something Larry Kramer couldn’t have imagined when he wrote his fact-based play: This was the moment when everything changed – not only in the fight against AIDS, but in the emergence of gay power and visibility we know today.

From a storytelling point of view, it’s a fascinatingly meta mix of drama and journalism, history and activism. We can watch the thinly fictionalized version of how those changes were wrought – many by the unknowing characters in the play, which was written by one of them … as it was all unfolding.

There would be no gay marriage, no gays in the military, no gays in the NFL – none of it – without AIDS, Larry Kramer and what we see in “The Normal Heart.”

That adds a richness that was missing when I saw a stage production in 1986. It struck me then as a series of long, angry speeches more than a story, with lots of yelling and tantrums, even some milk throwing. Its power was oddly muted by the this-is-happening-to-me-right-now intensity of the time.

But I was curious to see the movie, which premiered on HBO this week. How would it be adapted? How would it hold up? How would my reactions be different now, since I’m not only older but also happily adjusted to being gay myself?

The Normal Heart, HBO, AIDS, Larry Kramer, Mark Ruffalo, Ned Weeks, New York, mayor, an example of how stories evolve over time

Mark Ruffalo, as Larry Kramer’s alter ego Ned Weeks, tries to speak with the New York mayor in HBO’s “The Normal Heart.”

Watching Monday night, I was struck to see gay characters treated cruelly and indifferently, completely marginalized by society and the institutions of power. I shouldn’t have been, since I remember those days. But in the intervening decades, we’ve all become used to gays having a seat at the table that simply was not allowed before AIDS.

When horror entered the vacuum, grassroots groups like the one Kramer formed – as he depicts in “The Normal Heart” – fought to care for the sick, to demand government and media attention, and to educate their community amid its own turbulence. The infrastructure they invented out of despair and necessity virtually gave birth to gay American life as we know it.

The filmmakers turned down the hysterics and tightened the story somewhat. They effectively revived images not seen in ages of emaciated men covered in purple lesions and gasping for air. And of a hospital maintenance worker refusing to fix a TV in the room of a “contagious fairy;” and of the New York City mayor and U.S. president dodging the issue and any association with homosexuality; and of masses of closeted gay men cowering in fear of being “found out;” and of the news media, even The New York Times, shrugging it off as long as possible.

Hard to imagine? Important to remember.

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