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The Boys in the Band to premiere on Netflix, Wed. 9/30- Page 3

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CarlosAlberto
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jacobsnchz14 said: "The Boys in the Band to premiere on Netflix, Wed. 9/30

I LOVE IT! It's my new iPad  and iPhone wallpaper...

 

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https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/REVIEW-ROUNDUP-THE-BOYS-IN-THE-BAND-on-Netflix-20200925

It is also currently at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with these nine current reviews.

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Not to put a damper on their early reception, but early Rotten Tomatoes score are highly unreliable for a number of reasons. It's currently at 91% with 11 reviews, which is still a tiny number of reviews by Rotten Tomatoes standards. Statistically speaking, that score is likely to continue going down in the coming days. Especially because, if you look at the reviews themselves, they seem to be pretty mixed-to-positive (remember that Rotten Tomatoes is an accrual of binary ratings, that don't reflect HOW positive or negative the reviews actually were)

I wish this movie success - certainly not trying to tear it down. I'm just saying if we're keeping tabs on the critical reception, the current Rotten Tomatoes score is not a reliable metric. 

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Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts as they are watching!
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Was excited for this. Finished some work early this morning and sat down to watch this. Shut it off after the “Heatwave” sequence. Oy, it was tough getting that far into it.

Its obvious I’ve seen William Friedkin’s 1970 film adaptation way too many times as I could just not absorb new line readings of dialogue I have etched in my brain. I’m all for new adaptations and embrace actors bringing in their own to classic roles. Not with this one, unfortunately. Boy, did I try. Robin De Jesus’ Emory was simply flat and horrible and only Jim Parsons truly held his own. Everyone else seemed to be somewhere else, most notably Andrew Rannells. 

Boy, did I try. It did look beautiful until the shot-by-shot recreation of the “Heatwave” cinematography (shot of feet; overhead shot, etc). The playful lip-syncing was my last eye-roll before shutting the film off.

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I watched it from beginning to end this morning. (Please pardon if these is not entirely articulate - it’s very much my stream of consciousness thinking)

The important thing is to try to go in with an open mind and not play the comparison game with the 1970 version the entire time which, admittedly, is hard to do.

The TL;DR - It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste, but it’s still worth a watch, especially with the updates in dialogue and unique creative approaches that Mantello takes to open up the play like his adaptation of “Love, Valour, Compassion”.

The Long Version (SPOILERS AHEAD):

I think it does a fine job and it’s not the slavish recreation that some have (and will) make it out to be. That is both a strength and a weakness. The way the opening was shot in a way that gives a bit more exposition to the characters (especially Hank and Larry), which I enjoyed. The opening up of the play to the world outside of Michael’s apartment either through real time or flashbacks did help give me new perspectives on some of the characters’ lives, pasts and experiences, but it also lets the tense air out of the room when it comes to the telephone game in the second act.

The line readings are an adjustment and I may have to rewatch it to fully digest it. With a 50-year age gap between these film versions, you can feel in the vocal inflections the difference of a cast who is familiar with the history of this time period versus the cast that actually LIVED through this period. The 1970 inflections seem a bit more constipated in their delivery, but it contributes not only to the tension of the play’s action, but also makes you wholly aware of the world they are living in. In the 2020 version, it’s hard to divorce from the fact that the actors are all comfortably open gay men in real life.

Now the cast:

Jim Parsons - He certainly ran a whole gamut with me, with some moments being down right delicious...and some downright cringeworthy. My problem with him as a whole is that I never got a hint of any sort of personality other than a downright *sunt - French with a cedilla*, which makes Harold’s line of “Beware the hostile *synonym for cigarette*. When he’s sober, he’s dangerous. When he drinks, he’s lethal.” All the more potent. But I never once felt like Parsons was truly holding himself together in anticipation of what eventually would become a total breakdown of his own making by the end. He was just all venom to me.

Zachary Quinto - Another divisive performance for me. He’s certainly no Leonard Frey. I mostly felt like, in his line delivery, he threw away some of his more cutting lines by softening up his language. It felt like more dismissive bon-mots and was lacking that world-weariness and insecurity laying beneath the surface. His final monologue directed at Parsons was very good, though.

Andrew Rannells - Certainly nailed the devil-may-care attitude towards his polyamorous (I know that’s contemporizing language) inclinations and I loved his interactions with Tuc Watkins, especially during their phone call with the latter saying “I love you” - undoubtedly helped by the knowledge they are actually a couple in real life. There were some throwaway jabs his character didn’t need, but ultimately one of the better of the bunch.

Matt Bomer - Oh, what a struggle to be hot and anxiety-ridden. More so than Quinto, his was missing the insecurity of Donald’s character, which rendered the whole opening sequence about his analyst seemingly moot. Eventually, he just kind of fades into the background. I did enjoy that there were some suggestive camera angles that showed some longing between him and Michael.

Robin de Jesus - Cliff Gorman was so indelibly perfect in the original that it’s a tough act to follow. For de Jesus, he nailed the role on stage, but he was still playing for a full theatre, even in front of the camera, and his delivery of his lines (some of the funniest in the play) was very poor and sometimes hard to understand. When Emory becomes more subdued later in the play, he returns to the mode that made him excellent on stage, but he came in waaaaaaay too hot in the beginning - He wasn’t a butterfly in heat, so much as the butterfly was actually on fire.

Charlie Carver - To me, Robert La Tourneaux’s version wasn’t really more than a living prop and punching bag in the original version who said a few dumb things and earned the derision of the company he was in. Carver actually really made me feel for the Cowboy character in a way I can’t quite grasp. If I had to guess, I think it was mostly in his facial expressions every time he got knocked down and derided by the others - he almost looked like a wounded puppy. His shining moment was a new line added at the end, when Harold asked if he showed affection (during sex) and he replied earnestly, “I try. It makes me feel less like a whore.” I found that unexpectedly poignant.

Michael Benjamin Washington - Definitely one of the better performances in the cast. He played Bernard in the best way possible, but also I noticed a subtle, yet noticeable change during his phone call sequence that I thought was fascinating and a great acting choice. Bernard is a bookish man, but clearly is intelligent and articulate (in a time when black men were still considered inferior to whites). When he calls up his former employer/flame’s mother, his inflection changes to almost a submissive African-American “help” trope (since he used to work for the family), and I found that to be an interesting and effective character choice. (Internalization of racism?)

Tuc Watkins - Him and Rannells really do crackle on the screen together - as if they are the true George and Martha in this show. There are some added layers to their story involving Larry’s cruising/non-monogamy, and a flashback/backstory to Hank discovering his enjoyment of the company of men in an extended monologue. Even the way he interplays with Hutchinson’s Alan in a very “straight” and subdued manner is effective.

Brian Hutchinson - His Alan was FAR less constipated than that of his predecessor, but in that, I thought there was a bit of tension and internal conflict lost with his character. In his dialogue with Michael prior to him punching Emory, he seemed comfortable and not completely put off by the proceedings until Michael baits and goads him with his badgering questions, which sets up Emory to light his fuse a few minutes later. His final showdown with Parsons is definitely worth a watch.

 

Those are all my thoughts. I’ll post again if I have anymore

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There as also an excellent companion documentary on the making of the film on Netflix. I believe it's called The Boys in the Band, Something Personal.  It contains interviews as well as a tour of Mart Crowley's NY apartment as he discusses his friendships which later became influences in the script.

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Wish I had Netflix.  I saw the show 2 years ago in New York and didn't care for it.  Would like to give it a 2nd chance.  The documentary sounds really good.  

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You can always sign up for it.
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GottaHaveAGimmick said: "There as also an excellent companion documentary on the making of the film on Netflix. I believe it's called The Boys in the Band, Something Personal. It contains interviews as well as a tour of Mart Crowley's NY apartment as he discusses his friendships which later became influences in the script."

 

The documentary is wonderful. If nobody caught it, that is Matt Crowley sitting at the end of the bar in the scene shot in Julius' (My favorite bar). I had to go back to the movie and watch the opening again. Kind of a full circle thing. I actually got a bit choked up.

I am still kind of processing my thoughts on the movie. (I own the original ) I will say that Andrew Rannells' performance was probably my favorite. His telephone game scene pretty much blew me away.

 

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I was definitely impressed by this adaptation. My husband hated it. Jim Parsons is exceptionally nasty in his interpretation of Michael, which doesn't leave him with much space to build his character with, but I feel he made it work well enough. Joe Mantello's direction was impressive, and I enjoyed the supporting cast, for the most part. It doesn't beat the original film, but it is a very solid runner up.
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Remember hating the film when I saw it in the very earlier 80’s. Saw the London production a few years back and while I’m glad I saw it, yet again wasn’t a fan. I know it’s of it’s time, but I find it a vile nasty play.
In saying that this cast is rather special, so will revisit it again.
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Pretty much where I am about it, Rosscoe(au). The eternal comparison is to Virginia Woolf, but I think Albee takes us beyond the surface toxicity of his protagonists to show the love between them that ultimately sustains them, or at least gives them something to hold onto. I'm sure Crowley intended something similar, but it doesn't happen. The men's relationships and self-assessments remain toxic, not healing (maybe it would all be different if the play centered on Larry and Hank, rather than Michael and Harold). And for those who want to say "Well, that's how all gay men thought of themselves and behaved then," no, no, no. That's how one subset of gay men lived. Read, for example, the novel Sam by Lonnie Coleman published in 1959 for a far healthier/saner view. And that's one example among dozens. There were indeed alternative versions gay life and identity before and during the period of The Boys in the Band.

I'd say the LP of the original cast is the best version of the show I've encountered. The first half is really witty and fun and the characters are more likable, though still mired in self loathing and victim playing. And once the vitriol starts, I see no reason why I should want stick with the characters on their journey. Nor do I believe it. I believe why the two couples remain together throughout the night in Virginia Woolf. I don't know why any of the men in Boys in the Band continue to subject themselves to Michael's escalating hostility or his telephone game).

The preface to the republished script in the 90's likens the play to birth, the chick hatching from the egg, and the violent, even bloody event this can be. It's a useful analogy, and I've tried to work with it, tried to give the play and the first movie their due (and do appreciate the documentary on the creation of both, The Making of the Boys). But the work is just not for me.

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I loved every second of it and I was most impressed by how Jim Parsons channeled Mart Crowley as "Michael", a character Crowley based on himself. I closed my eyes and I could hear/picture Crowley in my head. 

I also loved the 28-minute doc that accompanies the making of this particular film - - - and since I haven't been to the Village post-COVID it was nice to see shots of my favorite haunts. 

I am planning a Zoom watching party this weekend with some of my best "girls" complete with popcorn and wine. It should be a lot of fun. 

 

 

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So something jumped out at me while watching-- had there always been an established hostility between Harold and Donald? It was clearly acknowledged in this version, but was it addressed at all in the Friedkin film? Ironic that my main problem with this remake was losing some of the subtlety of the original, and I have no idea if I missed a subtle nod to the Harold/Donald dynamic in the 1970 film.

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BrodyFosse123 said: "Was excited for this. Finished some work early this morning and sat down to watch this. Shut it off after the “Heatwave” sequence. Oy, it was tough getting that far into it.

Its obvious I’ve seen William Friedkin’s 1970 film adaptation way too many times as I could just not absorb new line readings of dialogue I have etched in my brain. I’m all for new adaptations and embrace actors bringing in their own to classic roles. Not with this one, unfortunately. Boy, did I try. Robin De Jesus’ Emory was simply flat and horrible and only Jim Parsons truly held his own. Everyone else seemed to be somewhere else, most notably Andrew Rannells.

Boy, did I try. It did look beautiful until the shot-by-shot recreation of the “Heatwave” cinematography (shot of feet; overhead shot, etc). The playful lip-syncing was my last eye-roll before shutting the film off.
"

It was a chore to sit thru.

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I’m not certain this production translated all that well to the screen. The performances are a bit broad at times, bordering on camp (more camp than is necessary for The Boys in the Band). I was originally encouraged by the idea that these actors have played these characters on stage and would be very comfortable with the roles and each other. Alas, I think they needed to be dialed down a bit and redirected to a subtler and more contained performance for the camera. It was enjoyable but certainly not a replacement for the original film. I’d much prefer a filmed version of the Broadway revival, which was something of an event and a very good time at the theatre.
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I saw the Broadway play two years ago and this film last night and between the two, much preferred the play version. I recall laughing a lot more two years ago during the first part of the play and yet still felt the intensity of Michael's self-hatred in the second part of the play. They had my attention 100% of the time. In the film version, I barely laughed and it felt long to the point I did doze off here and there. I understand it's the same exact cast from the revival but different medium. Ahhh I miss live theater.

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justoldbill said: "This looks like a very close reproduction of the original film, even to the device of the rainstorm bringing the party indoors for the purposes of claustrophobia. Many of the set-ups look awfully familiar. I'll wait until it shows up on YouTube. I doubt that it will even come close to being as good as the original. At least it looks as if they got rid of the god-awful scenic design from the stage revival."

I did not see either stage play so don't know how they did the rain. But I think we expected it to mirror the film.

Joevitus, I think you hit on what I was feeling about this film. It feels as if the barbs come at a bit slower pace in this and, for me, didn't go by so fast and allowed you to actually feel the love/friendship these men had for each other but showed their internal frustration with the times and how gays were viewed and treated. It takes away the "punch" of the original and softens it a bit. It took me about an hour to really settle into it. I think mostly because I had to settle into seeing Parsons, Rannells, DeJesus, Bomer and Quinto play these iconic roles. The performances of the originals are hard to top, and will never be, in my opinion. 

Also, did anyone notice how Rannels hair kept going from combed to messy in the telephone game scene?

I thought the flashbacks were well done and the new ending was nice. I am a huge Mantello fan and think he did a good pretty good job of bringing the feel of the original and putting his stamp on it. I will be honest, I was not expecting to like it (I am still upset that I did not see it onstage because I really wanted to see how it was staged.)  but I have to admit I enjoyed it more than expected.

***Possible Spoiler***

 

 

And I did like that we got to see what everyone did after the party.

Just my random thoughts.

 

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I thought the sets were wonderful, the actors were beautiful, and it was a decent movie overall. But, I think watching this live, having the energy in the theater was a million times better. It was such a fun time at the theater, I will always remember it. 

I MISS LIVE THEATER SO MUCH.

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I've never seen the original film, but I did see this production on Broadway once from standing room. I really enjoyed it and have seen about half of this on Netflix (I turned it off because I was tired, not because I was bored!). I found it more engaging than on stage and having subtitles on let me catch more of the more topical slang and references.
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Jordan, yes I could sign up for it.  I would want to watch it on my television set.  Not my computer.  I'm old fashioned that way.  Ha, ha.  

Updated On: 10/1/20 at 06:17 PM
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LYLS3637 said: "So something jumped out at me while watching-- had there always been an established hostility between Harold and Donald? It was clearly acknowledged in this version, but was it addressed at all in the Friedkin film? Ironic that my main problem with this remake was losing some of the subtlety of the original, and I have no idea if I missed a subtle nod to the Harold/Donald dynamic in the 1970 film."

Couldn't say with 100% certainty, but I think that was eliminated from the film (likely the dialogue was filmed, but lost in the editing process). When listening to the cast recording for the first time recently, I too was surprised by that aspect of the show. Now I'd read the script some years back, and obviously it would have been there, but it either didn't register to me or I'd forgotten. 

Edited: Actually, I do think the final exchange of lines between Donald and Harold is still in there, but either the previous lines aren't or they don't make the same impact they did on the cast recording or, apparently, in the new Netflix version.

Updated On: 10/1/20 at 06:26 PM
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I don't think anything is specifically aimed at Donald; he's just an easy target for Harold's over-all hostility. After all, Donald is there there because he's Michael's friend, not Harold's.
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nealb1 said: "Jordan, yes I could sign up for it. I would want to watch it on my television set. Not my computer. I'm old fashioned that way. Ha, ha."

You are aware you can watch Netflix On your TV, right? The same with hulu, Disney plus, YouTube and pretty much any other app. You don't need a computer. 

Darreyl with an L!