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« Honorary Oscars: Agnès Varda's Cléo from 5 to 7 | Main | The Furniture: Grotesque Extravagance in Fellini's Casanova »
Monday
Nov062017

Beauty vs Beast: Marriage Among the Prophets

Jason from MNPP here -- the great Mike Nichols would have turned 86 today if he hadn't passed away back in 2014, and yet even with him gone for three years now I've spent a good chunk of the year thinking about him. Specifically I've been thinking a lot about his 2003 adaptation of Angels in America, thanks to the most recent London production with Andrew Garfield & Co grabbing headlines before moving here to the US in a few months. What are your thoughts on Mike Nichols' miniseries now? Have you re-watched it lately? (The whole thing is available to stream on Amazon if you haven't.)

Anyway there are a lot of antagonistic pairings in Angels that I could have used for this week's "Beauty vs Beast" but in every iteration of the show I have seen it's always the fractured marriage of Joe (Patrick Wilson in the film) and Harper (Mary Louise Parker) that I come back to, so that's where we'll land.

PREVIOUSLY Last week we floated down through the storm-drain on a raft of red balloons and took on Stephen King's most recent blockbuster adaptation of It - y'all weren't in the mood for clown-time though, choosing The Losers Club over Pennywise by just a couple of points. Said catbaskets:

"Tie between Beverley and Pennywise. You can keep all the boys. They bring little to the table compared to those drama gals with demons."

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Reader Comments (15)

Maybe it's because Patrick Wilson projects likability so much, but I felt so bad for his Joe Pitt at the end of Angels in America. Kushner was way harsh on him.

November 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

Raul, I swear I was about to type the same thing. The judgement of Joe Pitt felt so harsh to me. I think we're supposed to find his actions near reprehensible, but they just felt like the mistakes of a truly lost and confused person. I don't think that he should be at the fountain with everyone at the end, but if Louis can be forgiven and even Cohen is granted his last rites, can't Joe manage a tiny bit of peace?

It's been a while since I've seen it, but I remember being incredibly moved by it and thinking that work being done by the actors was just amazing from top to bottom. I don't think that would change now, but I do wonder how my impressions of the characters will have changed with time.

November 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVal

This would be a lot harder it it was Harper against Patrick Wilson's butt, but for now I can't resist Harper's verbal nausea and vulnerability.

November 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve_Man

Agree with everyone thus far. The fact that Joe seems to be totally irredeemable in the play feels like the only mark against Kushner's masterpiece. That being said, I still voted for Harper.

November 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoe K

I am boycotting these only because in most instances, you want the characters to have a dilemma so the story is interesting to audiences. Picking one person over the other in a failed marriage seems unfair. Angels in America is a great film adaptation, one of the few really successful adaptations from stage to screen (or long form TV miniseries, or whatever they are calling it now after Mike Nichols and Tony Kushner helped to pioneer the format). It is very visual and reads film to me, like that great long form adaptation with Frances McDormand (Olive Kitteridge).

November 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJono

Patrick Wilson is so beautiful and moving in that role

November 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

"I'd love to go traveling - leave you behind to worry."

November 6, 2017 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

Personally, I was very deeply moved by the experience of watching Angels in America, I was about 20 when it came out and I found it was (thematically and in a plot sense) endlessly complex, Its texts are wonderfully written, unafraid of pathos, farce and intellectualism alike, and fiercely direct in their expression, the atmosphere is often subtly and hauntingly surreal, as for the brilliant cast , even back in 2003 Mary-Louise Parker was my favorite (later I would worship her superbly funny, foul mouthed , tad slutty turn as Nancy in the immensely watchable Weeds) , at times she has you wondering if she's really been taking pills (and I mean that as a compliment), she`s a treat, mixing self-pity and humor seamlessly into a character that alternately rankles and cowers.

November 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEder Arcas

harper, for surviving and escaping [not necessarily in that order]; her final "painful progress" monologue makes me tear up every time, even when reading it

mary louise parker was truly inspired casting

November 6, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterpar

I sympathize with both characters. I like how Wison tries to make Joe seem like a real person struggling with his soul and not just the monster he is often played onstage. But I had to vote for Harper. She is able to escape and move on to better things. We don't know if Joe can move on or if he is just broken now.

November 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Steve_Man -- LOL

but i'm voting for Joe because Patrick Wilson was the perfect Joe. I've seen a lot of productions of this and though Harper is often fascinating whoever is playing her, Wilson is and probably always will be the greatest Joe.

November 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The one thing above all others that I remember from watching this when it first aired was Mary Louise Parker screaming, "MR LIES? MR LIES!" with this gut wrenching need to escape. I still get goosebumps when I think about it. Team Harper, if nothing for that searing memory.

November 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterrow-bin

Harper gets an absolutely raw deal in the play so I hope she wins here.

November 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSeán

It was the first time i saw Patrick Wilson on screen and i litteraly fell in love with him... Because i was in love with a real life Joe at the time i discovered this TV masterpiece, and it was such a strange experience.
So i'm Team Joe, but it's a very difficult choice because both Joe and Harper broke my heart and never left my mind. Parker is such a wonderful, moving actress and the perfect choice for the part, and Wilson is so much more than a perfect face and a splendid body ("is" and not "was" because he still looks spectacular).

November 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterClement_Paris

row-bin, that scene is just soul=shattering. Parker, Wilson, Kirk and Schenkman absolutely nailed it. When Joe admits that "he's the man under the bed" the look of devastation on Parker's face just kills me. "It is you, I recognize you now...."

Kushner is a brilliant writer, but I don't think he'll top that scene.

November 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

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