Monday, December 30, 2013

Dallas Buyers Club (a movie review post)

I heard this interview with Matthew McConaughey on NPR a while back about how his family lost a lawsuit because he won the most attractive award (or some such) his senior year of high school. [It's an amusing story about his early high school issues with acne.] You would never be able to tell that from the way he looks in Dallas Buyers Club.
Seriously, McConaughey looks awful, and that's saying a lot considering who he is. He looks like he's wasting away, which is appropriate to the character of Ron Woodroof, who is dying of AIDS.

In the 80s, when I grew up, we were going to die of one of two things:
1. "Russia" (in quotes because it wasn't really Russia; it was the USSR) was going to destroy the world in nuclear fire (or a computer mistake was. It was probably 50/50 which direction that would go).
2. We were all going to die of "the AIDS."

Dallas Buyers Club completely captures the horror of discovering having HIV in the 80s and the prejudice that went with it. [Like when I was in middle school and all of my friends told me (completely seriously) that I was going to die because I sat in the same chair as someone with AIDS that had visited our classroom.] McConaughey is absolutely brilliant. The wail he releases in his car once he has actually confronted what's going on is... I have no other word than chilling.

Seriously, I have never thought much of McConaughey other than that he's mostly a pretty boy that can memorize lines. He's never stood out to me as more than someone with a charming smile, but, in this, he is amazing. His willingness to destroy his body for the part rivals anything Christian Bale has ever done, and he brings a stellar performance along with it. If he doesn't get best actor for this role, it will be a huge injustice.

Jared Leto's performance is also incredible as the fictional conglomeration character Rayon. The relationship between Woodroof and Rayon is demonstrative of Woodroof's changing views as he formed relationships in the community suffering from the same fate as he.

AIDS and the fear of AIDS doesn't carry with it the same weight as it used to, and I don't think people growing up in the 90s and later have the same understanding of HIV as people who went through the 80s when it suddenly became an epidemic. Safe sex has become normative, at least, the idea of it has. Prior to the 80s and HIV, the idea of using "protection" during sex was mostly to prevent unwanted pregnancies. At least, that's my perception of it.

At any rate, Dallas Buyers Club is a powerful movie, the most powerful movie I've seen in a long time, and I highly recommend it. It might be the best movie of the year, but I don't think it will get the Oscar for it.


  1. This sounds like an amazing movie to watch. Thanks for your review, or else I might have missed this one.

  2. Sadly, this amazing movie has not come here to redneckville, probably 'cause of its content. People here in the bible belt still don't wanna believe AIDS exists. I need to travel 2 hours to the big city of Raleigh if I wanna go see it. Sounds like it will be worth the trip.

  3. Like your last review... sounds too real for me. However, there is the off chance I'll catch it at some point in the future... although I doubt it. The missus is not emotionally capable of handling a movie like this, in the first Fantastic Four movie, after Ben Grimm turned into the thing and his girlfriend broke up with him... she cried like her best friend died.

    Movies with real emotional impact, she's a wreck, sometimes for days. We seriously don't watch them.

  4. I haven't heard of this movie yet... so thanks for putting it on my radar. :) It looks interesting, for sure.

  5. I read this and the Goodreads post and I'll comment on both.

    First, I don't make resolutions, either. If I want to do something, I just do it, and don't wait until an arbitrary day to start doing it. This year I decided to start publishing people's writing, for example, and to stop writing one of my blogs for a while, etc., and didn't wait for a magical day to do it. You'll either do something or not, and waiting until January 1 seems dumb.

    As for "Buyers Club," I can't make up my mind whether I'll like the movie or not. "Based on a true story" is a huge turnoff for me. Except in horror movies, where I am drawn to it magnetically. But I agree that in previews McConnaauaghtgyag (I can't spell it and won't try) looks really awesome.

    He was good in "The Lincoln Lawyer", too, a movie that was also pretty good. You might like it, if you like legal thrillers.

  6. I've never heard of this! I'm a huge fan of this pretty boy, and yes, it's because he's a pretty boy who can memorize lines. Although, in A Time to Kill (which is when the world really noticed him - I know this, I have IMDB on speed dial (hahahaha))he does show that he can do a range of emotions, all WHILE looking smokin' hot.
    I will definitely see this one. Thanks for the recommendation, Andrew.
    Tina @ Life is Good

  7. I saw a brief preview of this movie (or a news clip) and was shocked at how much weight he lost for this role. I'm glad to hear it's a good movie too. I remember how scared we all were back in 80's of AIDS. I'm glad we've gotten past all the myths.

  8. I don't remember being scared of aids, I knew I couldn't catch it. It was only later we discovered there were 'other' ways to do so.

    Too much realism in that story for me I think.

  9. Tina, he won't be such a pretty boy in this movie! Colin Firth recently did something similar for a part. He looked God Awful.

  10. It's interesting to hear your perspective as a child of the 80's, as by the time I was in school most of the hysteria passed. It was still serious, but I don't think anyone my age really understood how prejudice and ignorance really hurt people.

    I'll be sure to check out the movie sometime.

  11. Misha: It was pretty amazing. I hope you get to see it.

    JKIR,F!: Well, it didn't get a wide release, so that doesn't surprise me. Fortunately, we have an "artsy" theater that gets a lot of the less mainstream films.

    Rusty: I knew you were going to say that. However, I'm surprised about the FF thing.

    Alex: It was surprising for me, but, then, I went into it having no idea of what it was about.

    Briane: According to the fact checking I did, they did a decent job with it. They did do some conglomerate characters, but I'm okay with that. Woodroof's family was pleased with it, so that says a lot to me about it being more correct than not.

    Tina: I don't remember if I saw that. I'll have to check. I've been wanting to see Mud, which he's also supposed to be good in.

    Elsie: More than 50 lbs, which is pretty significant.

    Jo: Oh, man, my mom was so scared of AIDS and went on a whole anti-public restroom thing and everything.

    Jeanne: I could have gone on more about all of that, but that's less about the movie, so I left it out.

  12. I remember how scary AIDS was in the beginning. I think Magic Johnson was the watershed moment - people realized it could happen to anyone who was careless enough.

    Nice review. I admire any actor who's willing to sacrifice his/her own considerable beauty for the sake of the art.

  13. TAS: Oh, man, Magic was such a huge deal in my house. He was my brother's hero. There was a lot of angst.

  14. Wow. I'm not sure I want to see this one. I mean, I do based on your review, and I don't because I HATE films like that. (But in a good way.) Does that make sense?

  15. Crystal: Sort of? I'd say "see it." I don't think you'll be sorry you did.

  16. I'd been wanting to see this movie because I'm a big fan of Jared Leto and I heard he did a fantastic job. I forget sometimes he was famous for acting before he became famous for being a musician.

    I grew up in the 80s, too, and I remember so clearly, AIDS was a death sentence. You would be silly and ask if someone had AIDS before using the same water fountain as they did. Everyone was scared of it.

  17. RG: I just found out he grew up in the same area as I did. How weird.

    See, I just quit using water fountains once I hit middle school, but that had more to do with mono.

  18. Thanks for the review of this movie. I have seen the movie trailer for this movie and it is doubtful I'll get to see it while it is in theaters. I will maybe check out the movie when/if it gets to Redbox though!

  19. G_G: I don't know much about Redbox other than that they tend to carry the "big" movies, so I suppose they might not get this one. Or maybe they will since it will be (almost certainly) be a best picture nomination.