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|Index||345 reviews in total|
Much has already been written about Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto's astonishing transformations, and brilliant performances. Solid and true, yes. They both deserve enormous accolades, Golden Globe and AMPAS-worthy, for these transformations and the effort of their craft. But I think the true heroes of this project are the Producers who took a chance on such dicey subject matter. Some reviews hail the project as "A Crowd Pleaser," and yet, you realise, these are TRULY marginal characters, and not entirely likable, as some have already said, in an Era (1970s-1980s early AIDS crisis) that is nearly forgotten in this age of HIV exposure-as-a-managed-care-condition, rather than a death sentence, as it was between 1979-1995. As much as this could be a feel-good film for the discovery and pioneer of protease inhibitor cocktails, it is a compelling character study of a time of crisis that has not been well-captured or documented adequately in quite some time. BRAVO to the Producers of this movie for giving this project the Greenlight, because the sexually-active youth of today would never know the Plague and tragedy that preceded their coming-of-age without a reminder like this.
One of the best films I've seen this year! A raw, gritty, and
incredible true story about a HIV diagnosed man who went to
extraordinary lengths to survive at a time when the AIDS epidemic was
at it's worst.
Matthew McConaughey who lost a significant amount of weight to play the role gives the performance of his career along with Jared Leto who's equally as good here. The two give quite possibly the best performances I've seen in a film all year in which I actually forgot I was watching actors in a film and instead felt as if I was watching real people. There's no doubt they will both receive nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.
While this kind of story does feel a bit familiar overall, it's excellent screenplay and sense of realism along with the excellent performances make up for it. While it's defiantly not easy viewing and a bit of a downer to watch, it's a truly inspiring (and important) true story and one of the years best films.
McConaughey has been made out to be a bit of a laughing stock after starring in a series of really mediocre films. His recent performances however, have shown that the man truly is one of the best actors working in the business right now. Dallas Buyers Club is only further proof of this.
Greetings again from the darkness. It's not unusual for an actor or
actress to alter their physical appearance for a movie role. Sometimes
those changes become the story: Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull and
Christian Bale in The Machinist are two that come to mind. Regardless
of the transformation or make-up, what really matters is the
performance and the character. Just ask Eddie Murphy (Norbit) or
Gwyneth Paltrow (Shallow Hal). In The Dallas Buyers Club, we actually
get two incredible transformations that lead to two stunning
Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto each lost approximately 40 pounds for their respective roles as Ron Woodroof, the redneck, three-way loving, alcoholic, drug-addicted electrician/rodeo cowboy; and Rayon, the sensitive, street-savvy, would-be transsexual so desperate for a kind word. Their physical appearance will startle you more than once, but is quite effective in getting across the struggles of those infected with HIV virus in the 1980's. The numbers impacted exploded and the medical profession was ill-equipped to properly treat the patients.
This is based on a true story and a real life guy (Woodroof) who became a most unlikely beacon of hope for AIDS patients. Woodroof fought the medical industry, Pharmaceutical companies and the government (FDA, DEA, IRS). It's impossible to miss the message and accusations that most of these had a single goal of increasing profits, rather than curing the disease. And that's where the story lags a bit. Michael O'Neill and Dennis O'Hare are the faces of greed and bureaucracy, while Jennifer Garner, Leto, and Griffin Dunne represent the side with a heart. Woodroof seems to be a guy who just doesn't want to die, sees a business opportunity, and even learns a little bit about humanity along the way.
There have been numerous other projects that deal with AIDS, including: Philadelphia with Tom Hanks and the recent documentary How to Survive a Plague. This may be the first with a protagonist who is simply unlikeable, despite his passion and strong survival instincts. McConaughey doesn't shy away from the homophobic personality and cruel manner of speech that Woodroof possesses. We never doubt his frustration at those controlling the big picture, but we never really see him connect with those his brash tactics help.
McConaughey is on a dream run as an actor right now, and it certainly wouldn't be surprising to see him garner an Oscar nomination. But it would be a mistake to chalk that up to his losing so much weight - he really delivers a character that we won't soon forget. And let's not overlook Mr. Leto, who has been away from acting for 4 years touring with his band. He is a remarkable talent and a true screen presence. Compare this role to his Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27. It's not just the range of weight, but moreso the range in acting that so impresses.
Also worth noting here is the outstanding cinematography of Yves Belanger. This movie is shot in a way that brings out the intimacy of the moments, while not losing the big picture. Director Jean-Marc Vallee (The Young Victoria) and co-writers Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack work together for a solid foundation, but it's McConaughey and Leto that we will most remember ... and of course, the pics of the great Marc Bolan on the wall. www.MovieReviewsFromTheDark.wordpress.com
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Since before the start of the new millennium until just after 2010, Matthew McConaughey's body of work was just that, a body that worked well on the screen for so many of the aimless, brainless onslaught of romantic/comedy disasters, in which he played the lead. In 1996, McConaughey played Jake Tyler Brigance in Joel Schumacher's A Time To Kill. Hailed as the best performance of his career, it seemed like, critically, that was the closest the actor would get to any praise. In 2011, McConaughey took the lead in Brad Furman's The Lincoln Lawyer, a by-the-number crime/mystery, where, McConaughey was able to flex some of his acting muscles as opposed to abdomen muscles. Since then, in what has been the most sudden and misunderstood acting turn in recent memory, McConaughey has reinvented his career and is continuing to be casted as a serious actor with serious acting skills. While the Texan acting inspiration has remolded his career in a time span that puts to shame that of Downey Jr. and Travolta, one of McConaughey's unflinching signature acting staples is his bold and proud Texan accent. And while I can't really imagine how a cowboy like himself was cast in Christopher Nolan's upcoming science fiction Interstellar, McConaughey and his accent were surely a match made in heaven for his role as the slowly weathering and dying HIV/AIDS patient Ron Woodruff. For Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey and his accent worked exceptionally well. Quebecois director Jean-Marc Vallee helms McConaughey as Ron Woodruff; a rugged, homophobic, ultra- macho, bull-riding, money throwing, playboy with no accord to anyone. Woodruff, a money hustling, chance taking electrician juggles his fortune, his luck, his women, and his job to make ends meet and live a somewhat fulfilling life. It isn't until an unexpected accident at work that leaves Woodruff hospitalized, giving him no choice but to make a difference in his life and the lives of many others. Upon learning of his recent HIV positive diagnostics and short thirty day life expectancy time span, Woodruff, reluctant to die, uses his hustling, smooth-talking, greasing ways to secure him a new, untested medicine to prolong the spread of HIV, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved AZT. After consuming an uncontrolled amount of AZT, the only legal drug that was available at the time in the United States, all the while, still abusing his substances, Woodruff has a close encounter with death. Coming to the morbid realization that the ATZ was depleting his longevity, he enlists the help of a disgraced doctor (Griffin Dunne) and together bring unapproved anti-viral treatments to the U.S illegally. What starts off as a simple economic money tapping market venture, Woodruff, along the way, comes to the realization that his efforts to help others, are actually working. Enlisting the help of fellow HID/AIDS victim Rayon (Jared Leto), the two start the Dallas Buyers Club, an alternative treatment centre for paying members that pits Woodruff in a gestating face-to-face with the FDA and other pharmaceutical companies. As the clientele grows thanks to Rayon's introduction to the biggest HIV/AIDS demographic, homosexuals, Woodruff has a revelation that not only changes his opinion of gays but also is a deep and dark look of sexual discrimination in the south of the U.S in the 1980′s. Dallas Buyers Club is a film dependent on the skills of its actors physical and mental performances. Aside from McConaughey's drastic forty pound weight loss, supporting actor Jared Leto dropped a hefty amount of weight to play the utterly convincing transsexual Rayon. Veering far away from Christian Bale comparisons in his eerie and grotesque turn as Trevor Reznik in Brad Anderson 2004′s indie The Machinist, the two leads in the Dallas Buyers Club abandon physical spectacle in exchange for allowing their on-screen presence to give a candid, historical accuracy of HIV/AIDS patients, and the brutal struggle they faced against a deadly and unforgiving epidemic in the United States in the 1980′s. Dallas Buyers Club is McConaughey's best role yet. Fierce, trashy and edifying, the actor substitutes humility for profanity, glamour for wretchedness, and the light-hearted for the heavy and unapologetic. Finally, McConaughey joins a club of actors that he should be proud to be a part of. Although the year's lead actor category is going to be a full one at this year's Academy Awards, the Supporting Actor category will have a clear winner. Unrecognizable, subtle and submerged into the role, their is no deny or ignoring the raw talent Leto brings to the role of Rayon. His previous efforts as a dedicated method actor, either gaining a large amount of weight or shedding weight with a wink of an eye, Leto's dedication to the craft is showcased in Dallas Buyers Club, and will surely be rewarded. Dallas Buyers Club is a morally, heavy-hitting drama with lasting effects. Dramatizing the social discrimination of gays in the South of the United States and the condition of many low-income, trailer-park living American residents, the film raises the questions whether or not AIDS/HIVS and other fatal diseases are fairly treated within government fine print and whether the main goal of such large and powerful companies is wealth, or health. Gritty, raw and compelling, Dallas Buyers Club is a powerfully dramatic based on a true story. Woodruff was a simple man, whose unfortunate condition brought forth an incredible man who's zest for life inspires others. Ron Woodruff definitely rode the bull in life; challenging the powerful FDA, pharmaceutical companies and notions that were instilled in his since birth. Thankfully for us, Vallee, McConaughey and Leto ride the film into a place in our hearts, in an overly sexualized, passionate display of what it's like to die "with your boots on"; dirty, gritty and with a fighting chance.
At times Mr. McConaughey's acting abilities may have been in question, but doubtless there has always been a genius just waiting to explode. And explode it does in Dallas Buyers Club. Given a fully explored and developed character, he is the centrifugal force of the engaging plot of an American tragedy, seamless direction, lively dialogue and creme de la creme supporting actors. This actor, who proves he can blur the lines between acting and real, rises to the ranks of Dustin Hoffman, Sean Penn, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, our Grand Pere, Jack Nicholson, and his own idol, Paul Newman. Unquestionably, he deserves a spot in Academy Awards for Best Actor. At long last, given the opportunity, he has proved to possess truly exquisite talent; to be an actor's actor, worthy of study, deep respect, even awe. He skillfully brings to life an oddball cowboy character to the level of hero, and mesmerizes the audience at every single breath, by every stretch of his emaciated gorgeous heart, soul and body. Shirts off to Matthew McConaughey, and may you never doubt his abilities again.
After watching this film, I've run out of glowing superlatives to describe it. First of all, a word on Matthew McConaughey. I've always thought of him as a relative lightweight in the film world, the sexy leading man best designed for selling tickets and little else. I am happy to report that I was mistaken. Sadly, horribly mistaken. From the very first frame of this amazing movie, I was so amazed at his physical transformation that it took a half an hour just to adjust my eyes to the frail creature I saw before me. But it was real, just as his stellar performance both illuminated the way I look at the entire AIDS epidemic and the toll it takes on humanity, both gay and straight. This film happily avoided all previous clichés and typical treatments of the subject matter, transcending every other film I have seen regarding HIV/AIDS. For so long I have decried the serious lack of great film for ADULTS, with seemingly everything out today designed for pre-pubescent teenaged boys interesting in nothing more than mindless video games and moronic super hero sequels. As with many memorable independent films, this gem was elevated to heroic status with the incredible acting of McConaughey, in concert with the amazing Jaret Leto, providing the perfect foil to his perfect, character-driven role. Every, single reason for going to the movies is present in the glorious truth and humanity of this landmark effort, a "must-see' for anyone seeking superior acting in profusion. If there's a God in heaven, Matthew and Jaret should both win the Academy Awards for Best Performance by a Leading Man, and Best Supporting Actor. Each actor went far beyond mere "acting" in this film, becoming so entirely immersed into character that they stopped acting and just BECAME. Don't miss this important and moving film.
This movie is wonderful. It contains all the elements of a great movie. It has a strong script, excellent acting, compelling themes and terrific cinematography. This movie contains what is probably Matthew McConaughey's best performance. He carries the movie. He is in just about every scene. The movie deals with several themes - AIDS, terminal illness, government regulations, response to crisis, change of life issues, homosexuality, promiscuity, personal responsibility, and capitalism. All these themes are treated forthrightly.After watching this movie, one should come away with a better understanding and appreciation of the issues raised. But although the movie touches on themes that have political implications, it is first and foremost a drama. Although the movie takes some literary license, such as frank depictions of sickness and drug abuse, none of it is gratuitous. That is, it adds to the story.
After being diagnosed with HIV, electrician Ron Woodroof (Matthew
McConaughey) learns he only has 30 days left to live. After getting an
illegal supply of AZT, Ron finds that this isn't doing anything to help
him. Eventually fleeing to Mexico, Ron learns of and begins to take a
particular drug that hasn't been approved in the U.S. When he finds
that this drug is improving his health, Ron sees an opportunity. After
smuggling the drugs across the border, Ron, and another HIV patient
named Rayon (Jared Leto) begins selling the drug to other citizens with
the virus. During the process, Ron battles the medical field and the
law in order to prove how beneficial his buyer's club is.
Based on the true story of the real Ron Woodroof, Dallas Buyers Club follow one man's actions on his mission to survive and how he started a revolution in a time when HIV/AIDS was a major issue. The story itself, not only is interesting, but it doesn't contain a dull moments. It filled with dramatic elements with dashes of comedic moments. It also features characters that we come to find ourselves close to. Every one of which gets their own time to shine. The film does jump around quite a bit, but it does so for the sake of the story and the events that are to come, and through every major point in Woodroof's life and battle with HIV.
Among the cast is Matthew McConaughey who easily gives the performance of his career as the blunt and clever Ron Woodroof. McCoaughey conveys different aspects of Woodroof with such ease. There are moments where he portrays Woodroof as being tough as nails, but then he can instantly shift gears into his emotional side. The comic relief aspects also come off completely natural. Jennifer Garner stars as Woodroof's female doctor friend Eve Saks. Garner does a fine job of giving off her charm as she always does, but with this performance we see the conflict her character is battling between her career and doing what is right. But the one actor who stands out the most is Jared Leto as the cross-dressing Rayon. Leto provides not only a lot of the major comic relief, but he also brings the heart of the story. We are shown Rayon as this carefree, happy-go-lucky character, but eventually we are shown just deeply affected this disease brings him emotionally, and Leto brings all of this to the table flawlessly.
Dallas Buyers Club is completely deserving of all of its Oscar buzz. From its powerful story, to its outstanding performances by the two leading males. Whether or not it is or isn't nominated for the 2014 Oscars, it is a film that has to be seen.
My Rating: 8/10
At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, patients were
advised to wait. In the six years following the first recording of the
AIDS outbreak in 1981, more than 40,000 people in the U.S. died while
waiting. In response to the clamor for action on the AIDS crisis, then
Vice President George H.W. Bush has been quoted as saying "If you want
change, change your behavior." Roger Ebert recalls, "Politicians did
not want to be associated with the disease. Hospitals resisted
admitting victims, and when an AIDS victim died, some health-care
workers would place the body in a black garbage bag. Funeral homes
refused to accept the corpses."
As described in David France's documentary How to Survive a Plague, activists such as the New York-based organization ACT UP began to protest against the government's callous indifference, challenging the FDA to change their drug approval procedure and the pharmaceutical companies to lower their prices and speed up their research process. In addition to the organized group protests, individuals also did their part and the determination of one unlikely crusader, electrician Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a homophobic "good ol' Texas party boy," is the centerpiece of Jean Marc-Vallée's gritty and hard-hitting Dallas Buyers Club.
Written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack and based on real events, it is the story of Woodroof's personal struggles after being diagnosed with AIDS and his efforts to spread public awareness of the disease and help reduce the suffering and extend the lives of AIDS patients. As the film opens, the heterosexual, drug-using and unabashedly promiscuous Woodroof receives the bad news from his doctors that he only has thirty days to live. Reacting with vitriol, he storms out of the hospital, cursing and making homophobic slurs while accusing the staff of making the wrong diagnosis.
After thoroughly researching the disease, however, and accepting the idea of his serious illness, Woodroof hears of a clinical trial for the new drug AZT, the only legal drug that was available at the time in the United States. His attempt, however, to become one of the participants is denied and he has to purchase the drug surreptitiously from an orderly. Unfortunately, he soon finds out that the dosage of AZT he is taking is toxic and his condition worsens. Refusing to give up, he visits an unlicensed American doctor (Griffin Dunne) in Mexico who has had some success with alternative treatments such as vitamins and protein-based anti-viral drugs.
Smuggling non-FDA approved experimental and alternative medicines into the U.S., he creates a business that allows him to distribute the drugs free of charge to AIDS patients who pay a monthly membership fee to join his Dallas Buyers Club, one of many such clubs that sprang up around the country. Woodroof is assisted in his venture by the drug-addicted transsexual Rayon (Jared Leto), a fellow patient that he met during his hospitalization. Though the film's depiction of Rayon does little to break the gay stereotype, their mutual engagement in helping AIDS victims helps Ron see his business partner in a different light than on their first meeting.
With the help of a sympathetic doctor, Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner), Rayon and Woodroof work together while dodging Food and Drug Administration enforcers and the wrath of the pharmaceutical companies. In one of his best efforts, Matthew McConaughey, who lost 40 pounds for the movie, delivers a brilliant performance as the emotionally volatile but basically decent Woodroof. Though ultimately, not all alternative drugs proved to be useful, Woodroof and Rayon's determination in the face of powerful interests helped paved the way for development of new treatments, even though it took until the late 90s to come up with one that was fully effective. As a result of their efforts and that of countless others, HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was.
Other reviewers have ably reviewed this film, so I'll just say that
this small gem is the best film I've seen so far this year. Both lead
actors give sparkling performances, and in scenes where they share the
screen, you might need sunglasses to handle the sun-bright intensity.
Of note is that this entire film was shot in only 23 days and Leto, in particular, said in an interview on the Daily Show, that he didn't have much time to rehearse, making the performance even more impressive. The only detraction was Jennifer Garner. She barely projects the authority of a nurse, let alone a doctor, even though female doctors in the 70's (and maybe today) were second-class citizens.
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