Clinton Street Theater Dec. 1st at 7pm
Let’s Kick ASS (AIDS Survivor Syndrome) is a national grassroots movement of HIV/AIDS long-term survivors, both positive and negative, men and women, honoring the unique and profound experience of living through the AIDS epidemic. As an organization they are dedicated to reclaiming our lives, ending isolation, and building a meaningful future.
Find out more about the Portland Chapter at http://letskickasspdx.org/.
January 14, 1994
More than a decade after AIDS was first identified as a disease, “Philadelphia” marks the first time Hollywood has risked a …big-budget film on the subject. …for moviegoers with an antipathy to AIDS but an enthusiasm for stars like Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, it may help to broaden understanding of the disease. It’s a ground-breaker like “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967), the first major film about an interracial romance; it uses the chemistry of popular stars in a reliable genre to sidestep what looks like controversy.
…The film was directed by Jonathan Demme, who with Nyswaner finds original ways to deal with some of the inevitable developments of their story. For example, it’s obvious that at some point the scales will fall from the eyes of the Washington character, and he’ll realize that his prejudices against homosexuals are wrong; he’ll be able to see the Hanks character as a fellow human worthy of affection and respect. Such changes of heart are obligatory (see, for example, Spencer Tracy’s acceptance of Sidney Poitier in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”).
But “Philadelphia” doesn’t handle that transitional scene with lame dialogue or soppy extrusions of sincerity. Instead, in a brilliant and original scene, Hanks plays an aria from his favorite opera, one he identifies with in his dying state. Washington isn’t an opera fan, but as the music plays and Hanks talks over it, passionately explaining it, Washington undergoes a conversion of the soul. What he sees, finally, is a man who loves life and does not want to leave it. And then the action cuts to Washington’s home, late at night, as he stares sleeplessly into the darkness, and we understand what he is feeling.
…”Philadelphia” is a good movie, and sometimes more than that, and the Hanks performance (which, after all, really exists outside the plot) is one of the best of the year. Sooner or later, Hollywood had to address one of the most important subjects of our time, and with “Philadelphia” the ice has been broken.
In a year or two, it will be time for another film to consider the subject more unblinkingly. This is a righteous first step.