Film Review | The Normal Heart starring Mark Ruffalo & Matt Bomer

dvd cover the normal heart

Produced by HBO, The Normal Heart has a lot in common with the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club. These films deal with the emergence and rapid increase of AIDS cases in the United States. The Normal Heart is an adaptation of a play by Larry Kramer that debuted in 1985. It places emphasis on both the gay men’s struggle happening in New York City and the personal life and relationship of an activist and New York Times reporter. The film starts out with Ned (Ruffalo) visiting his gay friends and the group learning about a new type of gay cancer (AIDS). They form a committee, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, with the intent to spread awareness, raise money and support those affected by the disease. Being the 1980’s, the men must tread a fine line with what is and is not socially acceptable and handle conflicts with those close to them.

The film does an excellent job showing how difficult things could have been at the time for gay men. The relationship between Ned and his lover (Bomer) is touching and tragic. The acting is well done and the film flows well. It may make you cry, but check it out from a library near you.

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Film Review | Philomena with Judi Dench & Steve Coogan

 

dvd cover Philomena with Judi Dench & Steve CooganBased on a true story, Philomena relays the tale of a mother in search of her child 50 years after his international adoption. The film revolves around two main characters, Philomena Lee, played by Judi Dench, and Martin Sixsmith, played by Steve Coogan, and the voyage they embark on together. Philomena has gotten on in years and constantly wonders about what happened to a son she gave birth to 50 years before who was taken away from her as a boy. Recently out of a job and feeling down, Sixsmith decides to hear Philomena’s story with the intention of turning it into a human interest piece for the newspaper. The two began their relationship visiting the Irish convent where Philomena gave birth and was more or less enslaved for several years after the nuns placed her son with a new family overseas against her will.

This film really impressed me. The heartfelt tale was met with superb acting, believable conflict and true insight. The story may have you in tears, but if you can handle that and want to see a great film, check out Philomena from your local library. For another layer, read the 2009 book Philomena : a mother, her son, and a fifty-year search by Martin Sixsmith, first published in Great Britain as The Lost Child of Philomena Lee

 

Book Review | Fairyland : a memoir of my father by Alysia Abbott

book cover Fairyland : a memoir of my father by Alysia AbbottWhile scouring the library for new treasures I found this gem: Fairyland : a memoir of my father. Having previously resided in the Haight neighborhood of San Francisco, my partner took an immediate interest in the novel and finished it in less than 36 hours. He claimed he was “unable to put it down” to which I can attest as he read between Superbowl plays.

Abbott’s memoir describes from her point of view the life of her father – a bisexual Bohemian writer – as she grew up with him in 70’s and 80’s San Francisco. It provides a refreshing view of how a single father (after the mother’s death) and his daughter were able to get by with little money and enjoy each other’s company. Parenting issues are touched on and the reader may question what happened to simple times when raising a child did not revolve around piano lessons, soccer practice and endless taxying to play-dates. As the book’s blurb mentions, AIDS does make an appearance and truly impacts the community.

The book was linear and easy to follow with no major stylistic issues. It is recommended for those interested in the Bohemian lifestyle in San Francisco in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, residents of the Haight, and those wanting to read about a single gay parent during that time period. Various references are made to San Francisco landmarks, cafes and restaurants, streets and public transit (MUNI). Published in summer of 2013, Fairyland should be available at a library near you.