Thursday, March 6, 2014

MOVIE WEEKEND: DALLAS BUYERS CLUB

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Today I present for your consideration a very impressive move: Dallas Buyers Club (2013, Rated R, Available On DVD).


It's 1985 and Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) -- an electrician and sometimes bull riding rodeo hustler -- uses coke, has unprotected sex, drinks heavily, smokes, and in general, lives a rough life. Injured at work, he's taken to the hospital, where doctors tell him he has HIV and only 30 days to live. Woodroof is a homophobic redneck who refuses to believe he's contracted a "faggot" disease.

Ron Woodroof: Let me give y'all a little news flash. There ain't nothin' out there can kill fuckin' Ron Woodroof in 30 days.

Before long, Woodroof has to accept that he's ill, so he researches HIV and AIDS and finds medications he believes can help him. But they're not FDA approved. He sets out for Mexico where he can receive alternative treatments, and brings the unapproved treatments back to the U.S., where with a transgender addict named Rayon (Jared Leto), he sets up the Dallas Buyers Club as a way of providing prohibited medicine to the people who need it the most.

I am so moved by this film. It's because of people such as Ron Woodroof that HIV is no longer an almost immediate death sentence in the U.S. Woodroof and others fought doctors and the FDA to improve treatments for HIV/AIDS patients. Dallas Buyers Club is based on a true story, but I don't know what kind of person the real Ron Woodroof was. In the movie, the character changes significantly, and for the better.

I mentioned in a post a couple of days ago that I didn't care for McConaughey. I've changed my mind. Susie at peaked in junior high assured me I would respect him after seeing this movie. She was right. This role is perfect for him. I admire him for going to such lengths to play Woodroof (he lost 47 pounds so he would look gaunt and ill). He deserved his Best Actor Academy Award.

I don't know if I'll like him in the future if he goes back to making silly rom-coms that waste his talent, but right now, I like Matthew McConaughey very much.

Jared Leto's inner beauty shines through in his role as Rayon. Rayon's presence teaches Woodroof that gay people are human beings. The Internet Movie Database states that Leto remained in character during the entire shoot, even going grocery shopping dressed as Rayon. Leto lost 30 pounds to play the part. Leto's commitment to the role helped him earn his his Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, which he richly deserved. Rayon breaks my heart.

The one false note -- at times -- during the film, is Jennifer Garner as a doctor named Eve. During the first part of the movie, she's kind of sickeningly sweet. Her character becomes tougher and more realistic as she fights to help her patients.

Dallas Buyers Club is filmed in a rough, raw style that's appropriate for the story.

This movie earns The Janie Junebug Highest Seal of Approval. It absolutely is not for children. You might want to watch it with older teens so you can discuss casual sex and how AIDS patients were treated during the 1980s, before Magic Johnson announced that he was infected and all of a sudden, HIV wasn't quite so frightening anymore. But that doesn't mean we can be lax. There's no such thing as safe sex -- only safer sex.

I sit here in my little house, wondering how to express to you the feelings that I have just minutes after watching this movie. I think I can sum it up by asking, If I'm not here to show compassion and kindness for humankind, then why do I exist?

I wish you knowledge and a blessed viewing experience with this excellent movie.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

18 comments:

  1. I definitely plan on seeing this one.

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  2. It's one of those movies you might only watch once, but it lingers with you for a long time. I knew you'd like it. Matthew was good in The Lincoln Lawyer, too.

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    1. I have The Lincoln Lawyer in my queue.

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  3. Janie, you brought tears to my eyes with your closing statements. This is definitely my kind of movie, somewhat reminiscent of Philadelphia starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. I love movies that don't pull any punches and give it to me straight, tough and raw. I love movies in which a character changes and grows. In DBC, more than one character is transformed. I also love method actors who sacrifice their own comfort for the sake of the role. Some gain weight for a part. It must be even worse to lose that much weight for a role. I respect MM and JL for making such sacrifices and I am eager to see this film.

    Thank you!

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    1. Philadelphia is a beautiful movie. Tom Hanks deserved his Oscar, but Denzel Washington should have had one, too. Now stop crying.

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  4. It's a good movie, but it's problematic. They gloss over the fact that the very drug he was fighting against, AZT, was effective once adjusted for human consumption (the reason scientists have no choice but to do human trials) and is one of the real reasons that people with HIV/AIDS are living longer. They didn't know to cut the dosage in half back at the beginning. But thanks to their trials, they do now. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/12/10/what-dallas-buyers-club-got-wrong-about-the-aids-crisis/?tid=pm_business_pop

    And the main character, Ron Woodruff, they make out to seem like a good-ol-boy homophobe who comes around to be gay-friendly. But there are differing accounts between friends of Woodruff and his biographer. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/10612550/Dallas-Buyers-Club-The-not-so-straight-truth.html Who knows which account is true?

    The depiction in the movie of him as a homophobe creates the issue of the message being that gay people needed the benevolent heterosexual to save the poor, Aids-stricken gays. It undercuts all the hard work of the gay community in elevating themselves.
    It's not to say Woodruff and his story doesn't matter. His struggle mattered. He was one of the many Aids sufferers who fought against persecution to bring attention to the plight of what was called "the gay disease". He was frustrated at the system and being marginalized. That, the movie got oh so right. But he was a self-aggrandizing opportunist. It doesn't mean it negates everything he did. It's just a lot more nuanced than the movie leads you to believe. Damn, I'm long-winded.

    Short summary: Good movie, but calling it a true story does a disservice to the real and big picture of the story. Great acting, though, quite amazing.
    A good summary: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/feb/12/dallas-buyers-club-accurate-matthew-mcconaughey
    Sorry for pontificating, but everyone has one of those things that touches something within.

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    1. Thanks for the info, Pickleope. I'll be doing more research. It's important to note that when a movie is "based" on a true story or even purports to be a true story, that it might not be true at all. Woodroof definitely is an opportunist, but what's important to me is that the "character" (not necessarily the real person) changes for the better. Although the movie doesn't emphasize the changes made in treatment with AZT, the doctor very clearly cuts the dosage her patients are getting, and if I recall correctly, toward the end Woodroof starts giving out AZT again but states that it wasn't used properly in the beginning. I think this story is important because of the lack of response by the Reagan administration to the gay men's disease. Gay men really did need people outside their community to fight for them because so many people just didn't care.

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  5. I enjoy both those fine actors. Another movie to go on our Must See list.

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    1. Oh, yes. You won't want to miss this one.

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  6. Yet another movie on my "Need to See" list. Thanks for the heads-up!

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  7. I lost so many friends a coworkers to AIDS in the late 80s, early 90s. I can picture both actors doing fabulous work in this film. One reason I would like to see it, but I hesitate. We'll see, maybe later.

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    1. It's not a happy movie, Inger. It's about desperate, sick people. It's still a good movie, but that doesn't mean everyone will want to see it.

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  8. Wonderful review. Must add to my quay-way.

    -andi

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  9. I am really looking forward to seeing this. Matthew has done a lot of silly fluffy movies, true--but I did like The Lincoln Lawyer (sounds like a similar character turn around in that one) and Mud. One of my favs--Mister Johnny Depp--does some silly fluffy movies, too--but I seem to forgive him more readily for some reason--LOL! Maybe because he seems to be able to laugh at himself, where Matthew doesn't appear to do that as easily? Not sure what it is. But I do hope Matthew will do a lot more movies with some depth and meat to them because he can do those well. :)

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    1. I think I forgive Johnny because he is soooo talented and proved his talent from the beginning. Also, Johnny does not seem as arrogant as MM. Re: MM, I found some articles online that said he loved the money from the rom-coms, but he wants to make better movies now. I have The Lincoln Lawyer and Mud in my queue.

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