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It's Harold's birthday, and his closest friends throw him a party at Michael's apartment. Among Harold's presents is "Cowboy", since Harold may have trouble finding a cute young man on his own now that he's getting older. As the party progresses the self-deprecating humor of the group takes a nasty turn as the men become drunker. Climaxed by a cruel telephone "game" where each man must call someone and tell him (or her?) of his love for them. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I know I'm walking into a minefield by writing this, but here goes:
To begin with, I should say that I was born one month before the Stonewall riots and, of course, entirely missed the era this movie portrays. I have read countless reviews insisting that this is a dated film, and a time capsule of a long gone age of self-loathing. But, speaking as a single gay man living in Manhattan now, all I could think was that this movie hits closer to home than a lot of folks would like to admit. For every character in the movie, I could think of at least one acquaintance of mine of my age who could easily step into those shoes. I have met numerous "Michaels" who shrug responsibility, live off credit cards and (try to) drown their insecurity in endless parties; Walk into any bar in Chelsea and you'll see at least a dozen snide, contemptuous "Harolds" skulking around radiating disdain for everyone around them; and let's not get started on the legions of airhead pretty boy "Cowboys" out there!
This is not to say that all the gay men I know are like this. I certainly don't share the P.O.V. of Michael, Harold, etc. In fact, I know just as many well-adjusted, happy and likeable gay guys, and I'd bet money there were similar folks like that in 1968, when the original play came out (no pun intended). But it seems very p.c. to write this movie off as a history lesson and I can't. The whole tone of the movie, the suppressed anxiety the characters feel about themselves, and the bitterness they feel towards each other, the resentment the gay men feel for the (possibly) straight guy, and above all the need for the characters to bury their self-esteem problems by getting drunk and partying with abandon happens too often among people I know to dismiss as long ago and far away.
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