Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Rannells’

Broadway Comes Out in Indiana

The Prom

Director: Ryan Murphy

Cast: Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden, Andrew Rannells, Kerry Washington, Tracey Ullman, Keegan-Michael Key, Ariana Debose, Jo Ellen Pellman

This Film is Only Available on Netflix

Eat, Pray, Love director Ryan Murphy and TV writer of such hit shows as American Horror Story, Glee, American Crime Story assembles an all-star cast for the Netflix film production of the Broadway hit show The Prom, about a group of failed Broadway stars who decide to take on a personal crusade to assist a teenage lesbian girl Emma Nolan played by Jo Ellen Pelman who is not allowed to take her in the closet girlfriend Alyssa Greene played by Ariana Debose to the James Madison High School prom in conservative Indiana, in the American mid-West.

Besides James Corden’s cringe worthy performance as gay theatre actor Barry Glickman, it’s really three time Oscar winner Meryl Streep’s beautiful and tantalizing turn as the Broadway Star Dee Dee Allen which makes The Prom worth watching.

Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours) reunites with Meryl Streep and stars as the leggy actress Angie Dickinson to give some back up support. The Boys in the Band and Black Monday star Andrew Rannells plays the dashing but slightly dim-witted Trent Oliver, also a wannabe Broadway actor.

Django Unchained star Kerry Washington plays Alyssa’s conservative mother Mrs Greene, which is an interesting casting choice and Washington pulls off the role as a stuffy PTA mother who is ruling her daughter’s life and spearheading a campaign to prevent the lesbian Emma from bring another girl to the prom.

The traditional nexus of liberal open-minded egotism which clashes with small town conservatism is explored and laboured upon multiple times with numerous bouncy song numbers, which is just sufficient to convert the conservatism into an acceptance of all LGBT teenagers in the Midwest. Idyllic but not realistic. After all Broadway is a far cry from Indiana.

Director Ryan Murphy’s obsession with Indiana comes from the fact that he was born and grew up there, so The Prom could be a story about the director’s own difficulties with coming out in a conservative environment.

Barry Glickman’s own coming out as a gay man is heightened by the arrival of his mother Vera wonderfully played by Tracey Ullman, James Corden’s co-star in Into the Woods.  

The Prom is a really light and fluffy musical, a dream inspired vision of a culturally accepting Midwest which is a far cry from reality. Meryl Streep channels her Oscar nominated performance from The Devil Wears Prada as the outrageously narcissistic Broadway star Dee Dee Allen, although the script leaves such talented stars as Streep and Kidman floundering to make a lasting impression.

If audiences are looking for something superfluous and unsubstantial, then watch The Prom, it’s fun  but not intellectually challenging. This film is a far cry from Gus van Sant’s Oscar winning film Milk but nor is it meant to make a significant statement about LGBT rights in American schools in the 21st century.

The Prom gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and watch it for Meryl Streep and no one else. Streep plays a Ryan Murphy inspired version of herself, which is poignant since he had a fan club of her work when he was in high school in Indiana.

Bitchy Repartee

The Boys in the Band

Director: Joe Mantello

Cast: Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesus, Brian Hutchinson, Tuc Watkins, Michael Benjamin Washington

This film is only available on the streaming service NETFLIX

The original 1970 film directed by William Friedkin

Based upon the Tony Award winning play by Mart Crawley, The Boys in the Band was originally made into a film in 1970 by the Oscar winning director of The French Connection William Friedkin. Screenwriter and playwright Mart Crawley died in March 2020.

50 years later, director Joe Mantello remade the film for Netflix and assembling an all gay cast to basically play bitchy versions of themselves in the 2020 version of The Boys in the Band.

Set in Greenwich Village, New York in 1968, this film is about 6 gay men who gather for a fabulous birthday party and one heterosexual man who accidentally gets invited. The cast includes The Normal Heart co-stars Jim Parsons and Matt Bomer who offers some genuine eye candy; Zachary Quinto (Star Trek, Margin Call) as Harold, Andrew Rannells (The Intern, Sex and the City 2) as the flirtatious Larry; Tuc Watkins as the straight acting Hank; Charlie Carver as the Cowboy and Robin de Jesus as the quick-tongued Emory along with Michael Benjamin Washington (Love and Other Drugs) as Bernard.

It’s really the Golden Globe winning star of the TV comedy series The Big Bang Theory Jim Parsons who steals the show in a masterful performance as Michael, the twisted and conflicted host of the party whose razor sharp tongue gets released during the second half of the evening as he viciously takes to the Vodka bottle and starts verbally annihilating his closest friends forcing them all to reveal their dark secrets.

Jim Parsons is brilliant in this film and he actually deserves an Oscar nomination in 2021. Parson’s portrayal of Michael is brittle and cruel, unleashing a verbal tirade of bitchy repartee on his unsuspecting guests only to be intellectually challenged by the equally vicious Jewish gay man Harold, another superb performance by Zachary Quinto.

Director Joe Mantello gives each of the characters in the film especially Bernard’s a perceptive flashback into their first crush.

The Boys in the Band has to be contextualized in contemporary queer history as its set the year before the infamous Stonewall riots that happened in Greenwich Village in July 1969, which was the initiation of the gay rights movement in America and a decade and a half before the devastating effects of the AIDS crisis which ripped through New York’s gay community in the mid 1980’s.

Viewers must watch this film as a play being performed. The Boys in the Band is a vicious portrayal of 30 year old gay men projecting the bullying the conventional heterosexual world put onto them while growing up onto each other, a dark and bitter self-loathing wrapped in vodka, chardonnay and forbidden desire.

The Boys in the Band is brilliant, a bitter and fabulous evening filled with bitchy one-liners held together by a superb performance by Jim Parsons, who is the glitter that holds the group together.

The Boys in the Band gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is available on Netflix.

Grey is the New Green

The Intern

intern Nancy Meyers film

Director: Nancy Meyers

Cast: Robert de Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Nat Wolff, Adam DeVine, Celia Weston, Anders Holm, Andrew Rannells, Zack Pearlman

American director and screenwriter Nancy Meyers has always been brilliant at churning a reasonable collection of romantic comedies touching quite often on the social nuances of contemporary American culture. The director of What Women Want and Something’s Gotta Give, now teams up two Oscar winners the legendary Robert de Niro (Raging Bull, Silver Linings Playbook) with Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables, The Devil Wears Prada) in a wonderful romantic comedy The Intern focusing on a widower Ben Whitaker who finds after his wife’s death has far too much time on his hands.

Whitaker, fastidious, presentable and dependable, expressively played by de Niro applies for a position as an intern at an online fashion site, which is young chic start-up which basically sells and delivers new clothing bought on the internet much like the South African versions Zando and Spree.

The start-up aptly named About the Fit is managed and owned by the driven entrepreneur Jules Ostin played by Hathaway who at first channels too much of her character from The Devil Wears Prada, but then finds her own form for the successful working mother with a stay at home husband, Matt, played by Anders Holm.

Initially, the internship program is designed to give senior citizens a chance to work in the digital era and exposure to the 21st century work environment, which Meyers accurately draws some brilliant observations between the baby boom (born during or after World War 2) generation and the millennial generation (born in the 1990’s), a divide made all the more problematic with the fast acceleration of digital and online technologies. The fact that Whitaker spent most of his career printing New York telephone directories and one of the naive receptionists asks if they still make phone books, is testament to this generation gap.

The narrative of The Intern takes on some more serious issues in the second half of the film, after a rather languid beginning punctuated only by some jokes and a caper involving stealing a laptop. The film is brilliantly enlightened by the accessible Rene Russo (Nightcrawler, Thor) as the company masseur Fiona in a wonderful scene where she massages Whitaker at his desk, much to the delight of the twenty year olds sitting on either side of him.

As the film progresses, director Nancy Meyers gives more scope for her two main leads to show some real acting talent even though the script at times is slightly saccharine. De Niro’s character Whitaker really is used as a vehicle, both literally (he becomes Jules’s driver) and figuratively as a means of Jules realizing that her career is not as important as her marriage and that sometimes its wisdom not business acumen that can help save a company which is threatening to become too successful too soon. A pitfall of many start up tech companies especially in the increasingly attention demanding digital age.

The Intern is recommended viewing for those that enjoy romantic comedies with a bit more depth, reasonably well written and soothingly directed by Meyers. This is a great, feel good comedy without resorting to crude language or stupid antics.

 

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