Further Tales of the City
From writer Armistead Maupin, who wrote the teleplay based on his novels, comes a structed look at the lives of six very different people in San Francisco circa 1981. This four-part, three+ hour mini-series is the third installment of a series of books written by Maupin, and in this part we are thrown into a whirlwind of mostly romantic contrivances that build and escaltate into Showtimes version of a soap opera, only this only lasts for four episodes. In these four episodes we meet Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis) who is the landlady for 28 Barbary Lane, which is the centrality of the characters of this movie. Anna is dealing with her bordello-running mother (Jackie Burroughs), who shows up unexpectadly to take care of her own business with an old friend, which in turn starts romantic twist of it’s own. We then meet Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney), a host for a local television matinee series, and who is in hopes of getting an anchor job for thier nightly news, deals with her upstairs neighbor and boyfriend Brian Hawkins (Whip Hubley), a womanizer who wants to settle down with Anna. To complicate things, her late bosses’ widow Fannie Halycon (Barbara Garrick) hires her to take care of her lesbian Cuban-refugee daughter as she copes with the horror of her ex-lover. Then we move on to Michael Tolliver(Paul Hopkins), neighbor to Mary Ann, who is a homosexual planter who seeks out his own romance after a weekend with a closeted movie star, and a series of dissapointments.
**** Last but not least, the final story line centers around social columnist Prue Giroux (Mary Kay Place), who turns down a job by Frannie, and who starts a love affair with a mysterious homeless man eerilie linked to Frannies daughter. Sounds tough to follow, but the well-written characters make it less of a chore to sit through. What ends is a coming to terms of all of the main characters introduced throughout the mini-series.
While it tackles many sides of the romantic life of our society, this film still feels contrived and out-dated since it blatantly fictionalizes events revolving around 1981. While well written, Maupin relies too much on romantic activity than the forces that drive the romanticism of the characters. The film is also a gateway into the loves of people that we may never meet, giving the viewer an interesting dynamic on the idea and notion of relationships. The only turnoff, which is sadly shown throughout the mini-series is profanity, graphic sexual activity and full female/male nudity. Omit these features, and you have an interesting above average soap opera ala “Magnolia” and “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”. I recommend you avoid this one at all costs, because – as the press kits states, “Just when you thought we couldn’t go any further, we did”, and Showtime knows how to give viewers a no-holds-barred look at what they perceive as “true romance.” Disturbing, and unrefined.