Free Members-Only Screening: The Normal Heart

Wednesday, May 21 7:30 pm | Includes a conversation with actor Matt Bomer and director Ryan Murphy

Co-presented by the New York Times Film Club

Director Ryan Murphy (Eat Pray Love and creator of Glee and Nip/Tuck) takes on playwright Larry Kramer’s breakthrough 1985 play with a cast that includes Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Alfred Molina and Julia Roberts. In a piece that’s semiautobiographical, Kramer’s landmark work was one of the first major off-Broadway plays to dramatize the ravaging scourge of AIDS. The film traces the impact of AIDS on the life of gay activist Ned Weeks (Ruffalo) and how the disease takes its merciless toll on people in his circle. Heart follows the breaking news of the era, as the condition became more public as new information—and misinformation—was disseminated. Dr. Bruckner (Roberts), a physician with the most knowledge on the issue, offers her specific—and at the time, unusual—advice on handling this burgeoning crisis. Ned, petitioning the government to take an active stance on the epidemic, finds an inadvertent nemesis in Bruce (Kitsch), a fellow activist whose genial demeanor is a counterpoint to Ned’s fiery rhetoric and militancy. Director Murphy and cast member Bomer will be on hand at Film Independent at LACMA to discuss the film after the screening.

2014/132 min/color/DCP  |  Written by Larry Kramer; Directed by Ryan Murphy; Starring Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons, Alfred Molina and Julia Roberts

Ticketing Information

Film Independent, LACMA Film Club, and the New York Times Film Club members can reserve tickets starting at 5 pm on Wednesday, April 16. | Free; limit two tickets per membership. | Proof of member status is required to reserve tickets during advance reservation period.

New York Times Film Club members must RSVP to for this screening.

PLEASE NOTE: Tickets for this event can be picked up at LACMA’s Ticket Office, located in the Hammer Building, on the day of the event – as early as 11 am. Tickets are for general, unreserved seating. Ticketed guests must be in their seats 15 minutes prior to the start time of the event or seat(s) may be released. Reservations do not guarantee entry, even with a ticket in hand. Entry is first-come, first-served, so please arrive early. Program and guest participation subject to change or cancellation without prior notice. Tickets are non-transferable and can only be picked up by the individual who purchased or reserved them.


Here’s an exclusive sneak peek at HBO’s 2014 Emmy campaign

In a Gold Derby exclusive, premium network HBO has provided their Emmy Awards campaign for 2014 with category placements.



Movie/Mini Actor - Mark Ruffalo

Movie/Mini Supporting Actor - Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Joe Mantello, Alfred Molina, Jim Parsons

Movie/Mini Supporting Actress - Julia Roberts


Death and the City
The HBO adaptation of The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s 1985 play about the AIDS crisis in New York City, isn’t just a worthy project. Like Dallas Buyers Club, it’s a shocking reminder of how the Establishment fiddled as thousands of mostly young gay men died.

By James Wolcott

At the risk of outing myself as an uncommon churl, news of an HBO adaptation of Larry Kramer’s play The Normal Heart didn’t exactly ring my dinner bell with excitement. My response was more along the lines of “Why this? Why now?” Like an Arthur Miller classic brought down from the attic, another rollout of Kramer’s stage drama threatened to release the dust bunnies of a diligently worthy uplifting enterprise; it seemed like a noble gesture, a solemn nod from the premier pay-cable outfit that has stormed the ramparts with Game of Thrones and fished godless dread out of the mazy bayou with True Detective. Like a lot of us, I’ve gotten spoiled by HBO’s freshness. To be presented on HBO over Memorial Day weekend, The Normal Heart touts a quick-on-the-draw director (Ryan Murphy, he of Glee and American Horror Story) and a Justice League cast (Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo, Joe Mantello, Jonathan Groff, Alfred Molina, Jim Parsons), but the original material has none of the gold-lamé splendacity of HBO’s royal ta-da last Memorial Day weekend—Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace fandango, Behind the Candelabra, which went lawdy-miss-gaudy and enshrined Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in a rococo array of fall-of-the-Roman-Empire ensembles. The Normal Heart is a much squarer construction, which may account for its durability. It goes in no new directions, but the direction it goes drives fierce. Still, why this, why now?
Originally produced at the Public Theater in 1985 and triumphantly revived in 2011 (with Ellen Barkin making her Broadway debut, for which she won a Tony), Kramer’s play is one of the landmark documents of the plague years in New York City, when the AIDS outbreak ravaged thousands of lives of mostly young gay men in their prime as panic and paranoia feasted on everyone’s fears while political, media, and medical pillars of propriety stood impassively by, auditioning for the role of Pontius Pilate. One of the founders of Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Kramer was at the epicenter of the engulfment, sounding the loudest alarm over the dire consequences of denialism. Ousted from G.M.H.C. for being such a ferociously outspoken and temperamentally disruptive lone ranger, Kramer wrote The Normal Heart with the urgency of an ambulance siren and the wrath of a lion. The play didn’t allegorize the situation. It blasted the rafters, pointed fingers, and named names, most excoriatingly that of then mayor Ed Koch, who was widely assumed in the gay community to be a closet homosexual, a craven impostor. (When an aide in The Normal Heart insists, “The Mayor is not gay,” the rejoinder is “Oh, come on, Blanche.”) The Paddy Chayefskyan humanism, rhetorical blammo, bristling nerves, and siege mentality in Kramer’s play arguably hold up better than the magic realism of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America (which HBO mounted on-screen in 2003, directed by Mike Nichols), and Ryan Murphy’s version delivers the shock waves, the diatribes, and the tears. That HBO’s production of The Normal Heart follows so soon on the boot heels of Dallas Buyers Club suggests that the AIDS nightmare refuses to rest in the amnesiac fog to which America consigns its shameful chapters. The duty to the dead requires our attention, and these are forget-me-nots that go off like hand grenades.

For those who were around and morally awake through those years and the aftermath, there is a sense that the AIDS devastation has evaporated in cultural memory, the period sanitized and nostalgified by John Hughes coming-of-agers (The Breakfast Club), Dynasty shoulder pads, and the Bolivian-marching-powder benders of Bright Lights, Big City. Harrowing, heartbreaking films, novels, and memoirs testified to the tragedy as it unfolded, from the TV drama An Early Frost and films such as Parting Glances, Longtime Companion (which still holds up beautifully), and Philadelphia to Randy Shilts’s investigative masterwork And the Band Played On (turned into an HBO film in 1993), Paul Monette’s memoir Borrowed Time, David Wojnarowicz’s essay collection Close to the Knives, Susan Sontag’s short story “The Way We Live Now,” and the “Masque of the Red Death” chapter in Tom Wolfe’s novel The Bonfire of the Vanities. But a syllabus is no substitute for an active, engaged awareness, and an Establishment that looked away as long as it could during the AIDS epidemic looks back as seldom as possible, the passage of time and the glass-tower prosperity of the real-estate boom banishing the trauma to the outskirts of commemoration. Manhattan has become so expensive a proposition that even its ghosts have been priced out of their haunting places. In “The Gentrification of AIDS,” included in her slim, elegiac collection The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination, playwright-novelist-essayist-activist Sarah Schulman contrasts the magnitude of loss from “1981 to 1996, when there was a mass death experience of young people,” with the minuscule trace residue left on the conscience and consciousness of so many survivors and those who came after. “Their absence is not computed and the meaning of their loss is not considered.” She contrasts the casualty toll of AIDS—“81,542 people … died of AIDS in New York City as of August 16, 2008”—with the mourning and avenging of the “2,752 people [who] died in New York City on 9/11.” “The disallowed grief of twenty years of AIDS deaths was replaced by ritualized and institutionalized mourning of the acceptable dead,” she argues. A Freedom Tower pokes the sky from Lower Manhattan, but the AIDS dead, though far greater in number, have no memorial, their names unrecorded on any wall or along any reflecting pool.

As in a Hitchcock film, the horror in The Normal Heart introduces itself in innocent daylight. Nineteen eighty-one. The Fire Island ferry deboards and the screen bulges and glistens with buff, bronzed bodies exalting in liberty like sailors on shore leave. Only Ned Weeks (Ruffalo) seems less than strutting proud of his physique, self-consciously tugging his shirt as if his abs weren’t quite ready for inspection. He doesn’t own the inner pounce of a true pagan. He’s reluctant to take the Nestea plunge into the big bopping party on the beach, and he’s briefly arrested (as who wouldn’t be?) by the spectacle of four men conjoined in a cluster-hump under the trees, as if forming a mythological beast. The bell toll that sounds that closing time in paradise is the telltale cough of a young man who collapses on the sand, the overhead camera angle signaling its portentousness. That cough is like the first shot heard in a war, the cue for the assault waves to come crashing. The Normal Heart immerses the viewer in how fast and overwhelmingly everything came to a feverish siege for the gay community. Coughs that might be shrugged off as a touch of flu deepen into racking convulsions, and many who were strapping fit or elegantly slender only a few weeks earlier become emaciated, pale, covered with sores, trembling, terrified, ostracized, neglected, rejected, bedridden, then gone. So many gone that it’s hard to keep track. In The Normal Heart, Jim Parsons plays a G.M.H.C. activist who, after getting word of the death of a friend or contact from AIDS, removes the victim’s card from his Rolodex and keeps the accumulating cards of the dead in his desk, his way of honoring their names. He’s terrific in the film, as are Julia Roberts, dynamized as she whizzes around in her wheelchair with the officious dispatch of a doctor who doesn’t have an idle or frivolous moment to spare for obstructionist fools (she wields her scowl like a weed whacker), and Mark Ruffalo, in the tricky role of Larry Kramer’s mouthpiece and stand-in, who can kill a party with his righteous fervor faster than Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were and, as his frustration escalates, hectors both friends and foes like a burning prophet, yet remains vulnerable, sympathetic, the deserving focal point. His tactics may be mistaken sometimes and his manners lacking, but he sees the magnitude of the AIDS crisis taking monstrous form, fueled by fear and hatred of homosexuals and other minorities. They want us dead is the protagonist’s primal scream. Although the disco selections on its soundtrack aren’t the most original, The Normal Heart is very good at re-creating the grubby Greenwich Village vitality and disrepair of Manhattan’s last bohemian hurrah, the lopsided mounds of uncollected garbage in the street, the quarrelsome meetings in hot rooms where the fans do little good and everyone’s irritable and sarcastic, the hospital wards where AIDS patients are treated as lepers and that have all the charm of Iron Curtain prisons. Why this, why now? Because as the decades pass we are in danger of forgetting forever what went down. Nothing done now can make up for what wasn’t done then, but The Normal Heart, like Dallas Buyers Club, reminds us that this is how it went down in that Reagan era so many of our softer minds still want to remember and cherish as a beautiful painted sunset.  [sources]

Matt Bomer and Taylor Kitsch (being adorable) — The Normal Heart photo shoot for The Hollywood Reporter (April 9, 2014)

Matt Bomer and Taylor Kitsch (being adorable) — The Normal Heart photo shoot for The Hollywood Reporter (April 9, 2014)

Mark Ruffalo & Matt Bomer The Normal Heart photoshoot for THR (April 2014)

"I said to Ryan. ‘Aren’t we at the age when a gay actor should be playing this?’ He made it clear to me that attitude wasn’t in the spirit of the film.” - Mark Ruffalo

To lose weight to play an AIDS victim, Bomer left his family for a few weeks that were "really monastic and solitary — to create the physical reality of what Felix was going through." - Matt Bomer

Taylor Kitsch discussing the authentic 1980s jeans Ryan Murphy found for his The Normal Heart wardrobe. (x)

The Normal Heart cast photoshoot for The Hollywood reporter - Entertainment Tonight (April 9, 2014) [X]

Thank you Archivistsrock for the video/dl link.

The Hollywood Reporter

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