Saturday, January 12, 2013

Two Film Adaptations

Torch Song Trilogy (1988), watched at home last weekend, is a film adaptation of the Tony-winning Boradway play by Harvey Fierstein. In the film Fierstein reprises his role as Arnold Beckoff, a gay man looking for love in 1970's New York City. He is really the heart of the show, funny, witty and poignant, though Anne Bancroft is a scream too as his domineering mother, and Matthew Broderick throws himself bravely into the part of Arnold's young, modelling lover. Arnold's drag performances, with a cast of other queens, reminded me of the recently watched Magic Mike, but the latter was a skinny latte compared to the frothy blend of humor, psychology and melodrama in Torch Song.

I wanted to like The Namesake the movie, just as I wanted to like The Namesake the book, but both were ultimately disappointing. The book has more going for it. If it does not have enough plot, it does at least have the pristine prose of Jhumpa Lahiri. The movie tries to be epic by covering the story of three generations and two countries, but none of its scenes is particularly memorable or penetrating. The camera sees but does not look. The make-up is horrible. Irrfan Khan (Ashoke) and Tabu (Ashima) never look old enough to be the parents of Gogol, played by Kal Penn who put up a pleasant but undistinguished performance. Neither Jacinda Barret (the white Maxine) nor Zuleikha Robinson (the Bengali Moushumi) has sufficient presence on screen that may explain Gogol's attraction to the women.  The film, directed by Mira Nair, needs spicing up.

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