Movie Review:  “Making the Boys” (+)

A friend of mine, Charles Kaiser, asked me if I had seen this documentary about the making of the Broadway hit play, “The Boys in the Band.” He said it was excellent and that it includes interviews of the two of us. I hadn’t seen it so I decided to catch it last weekend. It is indeed very good. (Charlie is the author of two seminal books: “1968 In America,” documenting what happened in that momentous presidential campaign year, and “The Gay Metropolis,” setting forth a history of the gay movement in America. Both books are superb).
 
“Making the Boys” recounts how the author, Mart Crowley, came to write “The Boys in the Band.” It contains fascinating interviews with many of the people involved. Especially interesting is the one with Edward Albee who talks about turning down the opportunity to invest in the play. He thought it stereotyped and caricatured gays and that it would not help the cause of providing gays and lesbians with equality and respect. When the play appeared on Broadway in 1968, sodomy was a crime in New York, whether committed by men or women. The Court of Appeals ruled the law unconstitutional in 1980. The law itself was repealed by the State Legislature in 2000. 
 
The play was performed for nine days by actors who worked for nothing. It was an instant success and moved to Broadway. Albee laughs and talks about how dumb he was not to invest in it. The play was followed by a movie in 1970. 
 
“The Boys in the Band” is acknowledged by most, if not all, observers as having been extremely important in getting Americans to be more accepting of homosexuals. It also strengthened the movement to achieve legitimacy and equality for those whose orientation is homosexual so that 43 years later one of the major issues facing our nation is the legalization of same-sex marriages. That has been done in five states and the District of Columbia. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has urged the State Legislature to enact such legislation. The Assembly did so on prior occasions and undoubtedly will do so again. The Senate rejected the bill last year, but I believe it will approve it the next time it votes on the matter. I certainly hope so. 
 
When I saw the film last weekend, Mart Crowley appeared and answered questions from the audience. We also took a photo together. Although Charlie Kaiser has five appearances in the movie and I have only one, I am delighted to have been interviewed for such an important film about the gay movement. 
 
Mart Crowley wrote a sequel to the play which has appeared in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Surely someone, not wanting to repeat Albee’s error, will invest in the sequel and bring it to Broadway and then on to Hollywood.
 
Movie Review: “The Lincoln Lawyer” (+)
 
Although this picture is what used to be referred to as a B-movie, it is worth seeing. The Times film critic, Manohla Dargis, commented in her review that Matthew McConaughey actually acts in this picture as opposed to simply waltzing through it as the handsome lead which he has done in many prior movies.  
 
The title of the movie has nothing to do with Abe. It refers to the Lincoln Town Car which a very sleazy lawyer, Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey), basically uses as his office. Haller is divorced but has a good relationship with his former wife, Maggie (Marisa Tomei), who works in the district attorney’s office.   
 
Haller represents a motorcycle gang one of whose members is in prison, I believe, for making Crystal Meth. A bondsman, Val (John Leguizamo), refers a client to Mick: Louis (Ryan Phillippe) who is charged with beating up a prostitute. Other characters include Louis’s monstrous mother, Mary (Frances Fisher), and Mick’s private investigator, Frank (William H. Macy).  
 
The film contains clichés and unbelievable moments that should reduce its positive effect, but they don’t; provided you go to the theater expecting nothing more than seeing a frothy, forgettable, but enjoyable movie. 
 
Henry Stern said: “The Lincoln Lawyer had nothing to do with Abraham Lincoln, and Matt McConaughey is the polar opposite of Honest Abe. He is part Roy Cohn, part Lynne Stewart, a stereotype of the bribing, manipulative mouthpiece, except that everything he does is for the greater good. The film is lively and fast paced, without long car chases, explosions, aliens or other contemporary diversions. The body count is less than a handful. The outwitted DA is right out of a Perry Mason book. The casting of the murderer is politically correct, with a touch of Joan Crawford. I recommend this film. It’s what going to the movies used to be like.
 
Watch Ed Koch''s Movie Reviews on www.mayorkoch.com.
 


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