Stonewall - Attention Grabbing, A Fair Overview Presented Well

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Stonewall, from Roadside Attractions and Centropolis Entertainment, presents a fictionalized accounting of the 1969 Stonewall Nightclub Riots in New York City’s Greenwich Village, an actual event that became the catalyst of the modern Gay Rights movement.

Directed by Roland Emmerich, Stonewall stars, Ron Perlman, Matt Craven, Joey King, Jeremy Irvine, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jonny Beauchamp, Caleb Landry Jones, Karl Glusman, David Cubitt, Atticus Mitchell, Andrea Frankle, Mark Camacho, Kwasi Songui, Otoja Abit and Veronika Vernadkaya. Stonewall was written by Jon Robin Baitz.

Stonewall begins with a serious of typed font screen overs. New York City, circa 1969, a wide scale targeted government PR campaign was in place to end homosexuality by tactics employed by the F.B.I. throughout modern history. Fear, instill in the mind of mainstream America, homosexuality is a mental condition and therefore the gay is mentally ill, dangerous and can only be cured by electric shock treatment.

Denial of rights another effective tactic employed by the government when the objective is to silence a people. The gay community was ostracized, denied all rights, considered mentally ill non-existent, and contagious. Denying the right to congregate, denying the right to drink alcoholic beverages or to be served or sold alcohol as this might inflame the gene that fueled the homosexual behavior.

The Stonewall Bar, an all gay club, located on Christopher Street, Sheridan Square, New York City, in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan, home to New York University and a cross section of people predominately in 1969 was a mecca for the disenfranchised Gay.

Needless to say, 1969, the height of change in America, still for most of America Gay was one more social tragedy in a decade of deeply wounding tragedies. The life of all Americans changed throughout the 1960’s, parents coming to realizations that a son or daughter had same sex attractions, was enough to estrange families forever.

Danny Winters, played authentically by Jeremy Irvine, the son of the High School Football coach in his Indiana hometown, a small rural community where information travels fast and punishment is permanent.

He is one of two young gay men, unfortunately the other is the high school quarterback, Joe, played realistically by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, his father’s favorite and someone in permanent denial. The two met secretly and are caught in the act by two other boys who are stunned, shocked and highly disturbed which in a small town becomes a gasoline fueled gossip fire some parts truth and the rest lies which will never be extinguished.

Joe, the Quarterback, lies to the school and authorities which places all the blame on Danny, who refused to deny his sexual orientation, even to his father who has already called his mom. When he arrives at the house, his bags are packed. Accepted to Columbia University in the fall Danny decides to leave early for NYC.

The following scenes have Danny acclimating to life in Greenwich Village and the village serving up the welcome wagon full of surprises. The openly gay life, the hatred and direction by police to muscle the queers until they commit suicide. Another tactic in the campaign inflict so much injury, physical, emotional torture and torment, injustice and harassment, deprivation of basic human needs or services, until they can’t take it anymore.

Murder through suicide is a commonly employed by power to silence and end judicial responsibility and believes reinforces mental conditions.

Danny, set on Columbia and a better life, makes the right moves to complete his education requirements as every person on the square, notice right away the corn fed white boy and as he is clean, and pure he is the target of the local Gay pimp, played by Ron Perlman, who doesn’t recruit, he kidnaps and delivers to the well-heeled cross dressing white designer who likes boys.

In 1969, even as the rest of the nation was experiencing a transformation, Woodstock had occurred, Manson Murders, Assassinations, Vietnam, heterosexual sexual attitudes exploded into free love and liberal, societal birth pains, a revolution was happening everywhere, all around Christopher Street that didn’t include Gays and they remained diseased and targeted.

The Gay community pushed back with flamboyant flames, in your face, trans-queers and odd as it was, it was the Village. The LGBT community in NY's Greenwich Village was a place unto itself, the little corner of the world where the community could be free, at least some of the time.

Policing the Gay community became target practice for the NYPD. They were a disenfranchised people group and according to the government mentally ill. No one would pursue a police brutality investigation that involved gays.

Murder, however, was a different story which brings in the second backstory. Someone with access to the Stonewall was picking up young gay boys and murdering them, in an attempt to perform civic duty. No one had been caught. A new detective, Deputy Seymour Pine, played by Matt Craven, took over both the investigation and as it was his precinct, the Stonewall.

Not an easy tasks as the Mob ran the Gay clubs which made the entire situation more difficult. With raids coming more frequently, everyone had reached a boiling point, injustice, discrimination and continual violence drove a group of gays to fight back. Tempers flared and with one toss of a brick, a movement on the brink turned around and real change began.

Stonewall weaves many stories into the 129 minute running time, the many lives Gays live, the out and open, the closeted and in denial, the hopeful and healthy and the despondent and emotionally scared. Singularly gay and the transgender-bi and even the conservative as well as the very liberal.

The Stonewall riots are folklore now, then they were real and troubling and birthed from a people who only wanted to be treated equally.

The Christopher Street, Sheridan Square, West Village gays were a disenfranchised people looking for the freedom, which is often the motivation that draws masses to large cities, hoping to be themselves, to socialize freely, to form new families, not be targeted or discriminated against.

The story details the hate crimes, violence, the hopelessness, limited options, injury, hurt, and life in Greenwich Village in the summer of 1969.

Stonewall mixes, it has been said, facts with fiction and as it is not a documentary it remains a solid fictionalized version, loosely based, on the events in 1969 that triggered what has become known as the Stonewall riots which birthed the modern Gay rights movement.

It's a good film with a great soundtrack. As it is a "gay" historical piece, it may be uncomfortable for some. See it for freedom; for equality; for history.

Stonewall is playing now. Check your local listings.

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