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The Progress-Index, Petersburg, Va., May 25 - 31, 2014

BY JACQUELINE CUTLER

‘NORMAL HEART’ will break yours

The Pines on Fire Island in 1981 was outrageous, wonderful and carefree. It was a playground, mainly for gay men long oppressed and now out with a fabulous vengeance. The opening moments of HBO’s “The Normal Heart,” premiering Sunday, May 25, perfectly capture the unbridled hedonism and expectations of fun. The magnificent film correctly portrays that snapshot, in which the predominant color was white but within a few years would shift to unrelenting funereal black. AIDS. When the film opens, AIDS was unknown. By the end, the final sentence reminds: “Since 1981, more than 36 million worldwide have died. More than 6,000 people every day are infected with the virus.” Mark Ruffalo (left) and Taylor Kitsch In an epidemic, it’s impossible to grasp the situation because the numbers are staggering. But in this beautifully told star in “The Normal story, adapted from Larry Kramer’s play, we get to know people, not numbers. Heart,” premiering Sunday on HBO. Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer star as lovers. “I had to kiss Matt Bomer, who, granted, is a very good looking man,” Ruffalo says. “I had never kissed a man before, and I was a little nervous about it. And I know what is about to happen, and we start. And the thought goes through my mind that it’s not that different from kissing a woman – except for the stubble.” As wonderful as this movie is, it is tough to watch because it shows the hideous ravages of AIDS and the emotional tolls it took as it swept through the gay community. Besides sterling performances – Julia Roberts in a wheelchair, portraying the doctor who was felled by polio as a child but who’s a warrior for her patients; Bomer’s terrifying transformation; and Jim Parsons re-creating his role as a gay health administrator from the Broadway play two seasons ago – the movie resonates because it nails the bewilderment, agony and fury of the time. Taylor Kitsch, Corey Stoll, Joe Mantello and Jonathan Groff also star. Director Ryan Murphy does such a wonderful job, the film should come with a warning: Do not plan to do anything after watching. Viewers will need recovery time. The actors found making it emotionally draining. “There was one day where we shot the marriage scene, and you are always in tear-jerk mode, and you are sort of in the middle of it and just reflecting too much,” Ruffalo says. “I just started sobbing and could not stop for an hour. It was just too much. The whole thing just dropped on my shoulders, the enormity of the suffering, the cruelty, the ugliness between the unnecessary loss of life and unnecessary infection. We were in the hospital where thousands of people had died from AIDS. It was a real hospital, and I could not help but feel the dread and suffering crowding into that little room that day.”

In Focus “Acorn TV,” signup.acorn.tv If you like British TV, you may want to sign up for this subscription-based streaming service, which offers a panoply of classic U.K. shows, including some exclusive to Acorn. Those include “Blandings,” “Brideshead Revisited,” “The Crimson Petal and the White,” “The Edwardian Country House,” “Edward and Mrs. Simpson,” and “Maigret.”

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PETERSBURG AREA TRANSIT

100 W. Washington street Petersburg Station Petersburg, Virginia 23803 Phone 804.733.2450 Fax 804.733.2468

Petersburg Area Transit now has new fare options. If you have used Petersburg Area Transit lately, then you have used our new Fareboxes. We are sure you like using the State-of-the-Art Fareboxes that dispenses unrestricted two hour transfers. Now we are giving you more options. We now sell the following passes at Petersburg Station, PAT Bus Maintenance Facility, City Treasurer’s Office, and the Main Library: * 1 DAY PASSES * 7 DAY PASSES * 31 DAY PASSES Cost $3.50 and Cost $15 and Cost $65.00 and $ $ $ 1.75 for discounted 7.50 for discounted 32.50 for discounted fare for seniors and fare for seniors and fare for seniors and disabled. disabled. disabled. Once passes are inserted into a Farebox, the passes are stamped with the date and time purchased and the date and time of expiration. You can use the passes as often as you like until the expiration time. Passes are non-transferable and can only be used by the person who purchased the pass. For more information, call 804-733-2450. PETERSBURG AREA TRANSIT, GETTING YOU THERE!

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Select TV, May 25, 2014