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Oscar-winning producer Geralyn Dreyfous and her partner Dan Cogan will help finance “Be Natural,” a documentary about pioneer female filmmaker Alice Guy-Blache. Dreyfous and Cogan have had their hands on several of the top documentaries over the past few years, including “The Square” and “The Crash Reel” — two of this year’s Oscar hopefuls — as well as recent favorites “The Invisible War, “How to Survive a Plague” and “Born Into Brothels.” They seek stories with a socially conscious slant, and “Be Natural” fits right into that mission. The film traces the career of Guy-Blache, her role in the development of cinema. »
- Lucas Shaw
By Mark Pinkert
* * *
This is the third article in a three-part series.
Though many Academy Award Best Picture nominees contain—or are predominantly about—sex and relationships, very few have been about sex issues in law and politics. In recent years there has been Milk (2008), the biopic of Harvey Milk, a California politician and gay rights activist, and otherwise not much else. Even in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the AIDS epidemic was a hot button issue, few films of this genre made it to the Best Picture ticket (remember, Philadelphia was snubbed from the category in 1993). Sexual issues topics, though, have been more popular within the documentary medium: there was Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1989), which won for Best Documentary, and which was the first AIDS-related film to win an Oscar, the The Times of Harvey Milk (1984), which also won Best Documentary, and How to Survive a Plague »
- Mark Pinkert
There’s nothing the least bit sentimental here. Nothing flashy or showy in McConaughey’s rough-edged portrait. But there is enormous compassion. I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): haven’t been a McConaughey fan
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
Could be the very best thing about Dallas Buyers Club is that it instantly and effortlessly brushes aside any preconceived snarkery one might bring to it. Or that I might bring to it, at least. You know, like how the lead actor’s public dramatic weight loss in preparation for portraying a dying man in a based-on-a-sad-true-story issues drama is — *snort* and eyeroll — a sure bid for an Oscar nom by a celeb mostly previously known for dreadful rom-coms and bad offscreen behavior and now desperate to be seen as serious. Gotta be, right?
Not this time. Though that Oscar nomination is probably coming anyway, »
- MaryAnn Johanson
As we near the holiday movie season, it’s time to delve into fairly recent history. Not as recent as Captain Phillips or The Fifth Estate, though. Let’s go back to a decade that’s getting a whole lotta’ nostalgia love these days, the 1980′s (hey, it’s the setting for the hit ABC sitcom “The Goldbergs”). But it wasn’t all Et, the A-Team, and Culture Club. A terrific documentary from last year, How To Survive A Plague, took us back to the early part of the decade when we all became aware of the AIDS epidemic. A pretty scary time that brought out the worst in many people. Intolerance and ignorance ran rampant. But, somehow it brought out the best in others. The new film, Dallas Buyers Club, is a drama based on the life of one such man who somehow became a better human being as he confronted his own mortality. »
- Jim Batts
• Review of Gravity
Competitors stampeded away from the release date in panic, giving director Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity a clear run at the UK audience. The result: an impressive £6.24m, including Thursday takings of £619,000. This is the biggest opening for lead actors Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Bullock's biggest debuts were this summer's The Heat (£2.5m, including £910,000 in previews), the punctuation-challenged Two Weeks Notice (£2.64m), and Speed (£2.31m). Clooney's previous best openings were Ocean's Eleven (£5.1m), and Batman and Robin (£4.94m). Cuarón's previous best is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which achieved a mighty debut of £23.88m thanks to an aggressive preview strategy.
Comparisons with films that occupy a similar market positioning are tricky, »
- Charles Gant
We want to know what you saw – and whether our reviews were right about it. Plus: all the film news and more coming up today
What did you watch this weekend?
The atmosphere in UK cinemas was full of one thing only: Gravity. The Sandra Bullock/George Clooney thriller exerted such a pull over distributors that few other new releases even bothered competing this week. But is the space saga suck you in or leave your orbiting? Let us know what you watched in the comment thread below, or watch the Guardian Film Show (this week: Gravity, Seduced & Abandoned, How to Survive a Plague) and pitch into the debate there.
In the headlines today
• Lynne Ramsay dismissed the Jane Got a Gun suit
• Zack Snyder: Superman and Batman »
The story of activist group Act Up and its struggle with authority in the early years of Aids makes for a compelling and often moving documentary
"Plague!" howls screenwriter/playwright Larry Kramer like some Old Testament prophet in one of the many arresting moments from this urgent, heartbreaking, and ultimately empowering account of how Aids activists took control of their own destiny in the late 1980s when the Us government and health services failed to do so. Kramer is addressing an increasingly heated Act Up (Aids Coalition to Unleash Power) meeting, silencing those who have fallen into factional bickering with a voice which conjures up rage, anger and defiance.
Kramer's outburst is extraordinary, captured in grainy footage along with 700 hours of archive material (TV interviews, news broadcasts, reportage), through which director David France sifts to put us right there in the middle of the emerging struggle. What's even more remarkable »
- Mark Kermode
A movie to restore your faith in special effects, 3D and cinema in general, Cuarón's space movie arrives here already heaped with well-earned adulation. Like, say, Avatar or Toy Story, it really does expand the frontiers of what cinema can do; unlike them, Gravity is set in, or at least around, the real world. The story is admirably minimalist: two astronauts get stranded in space and try to get home. The visuals are out of this world but there's much more: riveting tension, sympathetic performances, and a spiritual undertone that only adds to the movie's transcendent nature.
(David France, 2012, Us) 110 mins
A true story with all the elements of a mythic struggle, this bracing documentary recounts how Aids activists – many potential »
- Steve Rose
Chicago – Matthew McConaughey’s performance as a 1980s-era HIV positive man in the drama “Dallas Buyers Club” is a gangbusters piece of acting. However, some highly exaggerated characters and soft soaping of reality creates a more gauzy romance of the situation than true grit.
It’s not that this isn’t a compelling story – it is, and it’s based on truth – but there is a Hollywood sheen upon it that has characters miscast, motivations too noble and gay personas too queen-like to feel completely legitimate. It is the 1980s AIDS circumstance that we wished would be, with a noble cowboy taking on the Medical Industrial Complex and the government to provide healing drugs for the HIV population. It wasn’t as easy as that – see last year’s documentary “How to Survive a Plague” – and the medical community weren’t all mustache twirlers. But the film does successfully »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
A rundown of your big screen options, plus what's coming up on the site today
What should you watch this weekend?
In the UK?
In the Us?
On the site today
• Wonder Woman casting underway, plus Batman vs Superman artwork set to reveal secrets this weekend
• Cameron Diaz was forced to dub over first »
Peter Bradshaw and Catherine Shoard join Xan Brooks for our weekly review of the big cinema releases. This week the team spin out in space with Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity; pound the Croissette with Alec Baldwin's state-of-Hollywood documentary Seduced and Abandoned; and follow film-maker David France back to the Aids protests of the 80s with How to Survive a Plague. Sandra Bullock and Alec Baldwin talk to the team about their new films. Plus, we announce the scorching hot winner of our short film competition, which was on the theme of 'heat'.
• This is the audio-only version of this week's Guardian Film Show
Xan BrooksCatherine ShoardPeter BradshawHenry BarnesThibaut Remy »
- Xan Brooks, Catherine Shoard, Peter Bradshaw, Henry Barnes, Thibaut Remy
Greetings Boozlings and welcome to Episode 78. This week Dave kicks off with a space theme as we are feeling the pull (get it?) of Gravity the Us smash that hits UK screens this week and reviewed on this show. In honour of the film we play a little Lost in Space game, test your movie trivia with new feature Hollywood Who? And run down the weekly news and box office figures! We’ll also be reviewing the award winning AIDS doc How To Survive A Plague, and are privileged to get a brief tweet from Director David France.
Episode 78 hits your eardrums in step with another Booze related development….we now have our own website www.thehollywoodbooze.com where you can find every episode of the UKs fastest growing movie podcast sensation. So check it out and get involved, by following us on Twitter @hollywoodbooze
The post »
- Joe Upton
★★★☆☆ "Fascists can be concerned citizens." This statement, made at a press conference by then-New York mayor Ed Koch, is just one of the many clips in How to Survive a Plague (2012) that plays as both entertainment and as a telling social/political moment. Koch was referring to the members and tactics of 'Act Up New York', the subject of David France's affecting documentary. Highlighting the way the group sought to galvanise public opinion and political will around the AIDS crisis of the late-1980s and early-1990s, How to Survive a Plague unspools like a much-needed record of an important chapter in recent history.
Read more » »
- CineVue UK
UK box office top ten and analysis for the weekend of Friday 1st - Sunday 3rd Novemner 2013...
Well, this won't come as a surprise, but Marvel Studios' latest Phase Two offering Thor: The Dark World has hammered the competition at the UK box office in its opening weekend, with the Chris Hemsworth-headlined solo sequel amassing a mighty haul of £8,668,172.
As expected, the God of Thunder couldn't quite match the opening of fellow Avenger Iron Man, with Iron Man 3 opening with £13.7 million back in April, although it easily surpasses the £5.45 million debut of its predecessor in 2011.
Aside from Thor: The Dark World, two other newcomers managed to place in the top ten this past weekend, with the Judi Dench / Steve Coogan drama Philomena earning £1,509,726 in fourth and Bollywood superhero sequel Krrish 3 taking eighth with £408,624.
Number one this time last year: Skyfall
1. Thor: The Dark World - £8,668,172 weekend »
- Gary Collinson
How to Survive a Plague, 2012.
Directed by David France.
The story of two coalitions -- Act Up and Tag (Treatment Action Group) -- whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition.
This is the story of two groups of activists, Act Up and Tag, whose passion, dedication and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition.
The film begins in the mid-1980s at a time when death from AIDS-related diseases was relatively unusual but beginning to dramatically increase. This documentary was produced from over 700 hours of archive footage shot by the activists as they charted their fight for better scientific research against a backdrop of indifference, hostility and greed.
You have to know that a story like this can never be an easy watch yet somehow I still wasn’t prepared for what I saw. This film is 110 minutes of anger, »
- Gary Collinson
Director: David France.
Running Time: 109 minutes.
Synopsis: In the face of minimal medical and government support, the activist group Act Up push for, against opposition from political, religious and corporate entities, greater action in the research to deal with the escalating AIDS epidemic.
Told primarily with the focus on activist Peter Staley, but obviously telling the story of the millions who were affected, How To Survive A Plague is a film not only about the AIDS epidemic that affected so many Americans in the 1980s and 90s but also a film about power. The power of suppression, the power of social activism and the power of change when a group of people band together under a common goal.
The directorial debut of David France, a wealth of camcorder footage taken from rallies, protests, meetings and interviews (spliced together with some original interviews and graphics) chart the rise of activist group »
- James Story
Picking up an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary earlier this year, David France’s directorial debut How to Survive a Plague finally makes its way to British cinemas, as a film all set to enlighten and distress audiences in equal measure. Though powerful and inspiring – this feature, documenting the immense struggle to find a cure of the AIDS virus, makes for bittersweet cinema, as a film bereft of any potentially happy ending. Though now a manageable condition, the millions who lost their lives ensure this piece remains poignant throughout and, ultimately, terribly upsetting.
Beginning in the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic swept across the world, we see how this feared disease was once a guaranteed life sentence, without any medication to combat it, and more worryingly, with little signs of any scientific advancements. Predominantly affecting the gay and lesbian communities, the disease triggered homophobic behaviour amongst many, with vitriolic abuse »
- Stefan Pape
The answer ranges from “not a lot” to “not the right things,” depending on how closely you observe. In the generation (30 years) since HIV/AIDS became a maligned social epidemic, only two American studio films, Philadelphia and now Dallas Buyers Club, have addressed the disease forthrightly. Other films have touched on it, of course. Larry Clark’s Kids and the musical adaptation Rent looked frankly at the decimation the disease caused in the specific enclaves those films depicted, though the production models of both films — small indie and theatrical adaptation, respectively — render them moot to this conversation.
Hollywood’s vision of AIDS is one where educated, white, and gay men become sick and where an altruistic, or entrepreneurial, straight man can swoop in and save the day if they so desire. Crass, potentially reductive, but also clearly shown. These things can and have all been true, but they shouldn’t be misconstrued as typical. »
- John Oursler
Short Term 12 | Philomena | Thor: The Dark World | Milius | Gloria | Nosferatu The Vampyre | Drinking Buddies | Cutie And The Boxer | Child's Pose | The Nun | The Haunting In Connecticut 2: Ghosts Of Georgia | A Nightmare On Elm Stret
Short Term 12 (15)
A film that makes you care about people who care about people, this compact indie doesn't have to look hard for drama in a foster care home, whose young workers need help as much as the damaged teens in their charge. The storylines are a little convenient, but it's an emotional watch, and Larson is outstanding.
Faith issues, "human interest" and even buddy comedy blend smoothly in this true-life tale of a retired Irish woman's search for her adult son, aided by a sceptical English hack. »
- Steve Rose
It’s bracing to watch the new movie Dallas Buyers Club on the big screen, and not simply because its star Matthew McConaughey famously shed so much weight to play Ron Woodroof, an HIV-afflicted rodeo cowboy who smuggled life-extending drugs into the country in 1986. The real shock is that it’s been so long since Hollywood offered a major release that dealt even tangentially with HIV/AIDS, let alone offered a plotline and a lead character that puts the virus front and center. But Dallas Buyers Club doesn’t arrive this weekend in a vacuum: Coming on the heels of last year’s powerhouse documentary How to Survive a Plague and preceding Ryan Murphy’s HBO adaptation of the Larry Kramer play The Normal Heart (due out in 2014), these projects suggest that the time is right for a new cinematic look at AIDS, especially one focused on the early days of the epidemic. »
- Kyle Buchanan
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