Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Philadelphia (1993)

na na na na na na NA. na na na na na na NA. Thank you Bruce Springsteen for providing a catchy soundtrack to tragedy. In the years before this movie came out, about a million Americans had been diagnosed with the AIDS virus, which was understood to be a death sentence. With the exception of a few celebrities (Magic Johnson, Arthur Ashe), AIDS was considered a "gay man's disease," and mainstream cinematic representations of homosexuals weren't, shall we say, overly sensitive when they existed at all. Philadelphia changed all that. In this inspired by real events tear-jerker, beloved actor (and straight dude) Tom Hanks plays an infected lawyer unjustly and illegally fired because of his diagnosis and rapid decline in health who hires Denzel (straight dude playing a straight dude not totally simpatico with gayness) to represent him in a wrongful dismissal case. Though the film was criticized at the time for its tame portrayal of the physical relationship between Tom and his boyfriend (Antonio Banderas!), and I suspect it's going to feel a touch over-sentimental, I'm curious to see how progressive it feels nearly twenty years later.

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