Seems like we are in a renaissance of great Matthew McConaughey movies. From Mud and the upcoming Wolf of Wall St. Great in the performances he gives. This is not the Sahara or How to Lose A Guy in Ten Days McConaughey, this is oscar caliber material. The reason alone this movie is good is because of the star performance. Take McConaughey out and replace him with another actor and movie is just ok. This motherfucker carries the movie and excels it.
This movie is about a man’s journey. From living a decadent life of sleeping around, drinking alcohol and doing drugs to a man helping out people and staying as healthy as he can to stay alive. The transformation has to be believable and McConaughey delivers. From being told he has 30 days to live and even refusing to believe he has AIDS, this man that gives no fucks realizes those headaches and black outs are not going away on their own. Not even the little help given from doctors, that are themselves trying to figure out what to do with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, is enough. He starts off by illegally getting a drug that is being tested but he is only getting worse. After 30 days of getting worse and worse he ends up, where else? Mexico. A doctor that has lost his license is running his own makeshift hospital, he slowly brings Ron Woodruf back to a better health. This is where Ron learns that he is not gonna get good treatment back home and he takes this knowledge him.Knowing that with the FDA regulations he can’t get what he needs in America, he has to go anywhere he can. Japan, Germany, Canada and even Jerusalem. The Dallas Buyers club is created with help from Rayon ( Played by Jared Leto). He gets ready to fight as he helps more and more people and both the IRS and the FDA start watching him closely.
As he goes from a man that once refused he had AIDS because he “aint no faggot” to defending his cross dressing friend Rayon, we have a man that isn’t even afraid of being shutdown. FDA confiscates his drugs? Well, fuck them, he’s putting a restraining order on the government. Theres a new law that took their club from merely unapproved to full on legal? Fuck them, he’s taking this to the supreme court.
Side Note: Since movie like these are always “loosely” based on true events, they take liberties with dramatic changes to fit a movie. I thought it was really interesting that the FDA is made to be the villain in this movie. Pushing the drug, AZT, that is causing more harm than good. Even ignoring the dangerous side effects. But at the end of the film, right before the credits start, we get a disclaimer. That AZT helped saving millions of lives in low dosage. ….I guess
The great thing about Alexander Payne movies is that they are always about normal people. Real and honest, they are not sugarcoated either. From Sideways, Election and The Descendants. Although with Descendants, George Clooney does play a rich man from Hawaii, he has to deal with family issues in a way thats relatable and not far fetched. With Nebraska we get a simple story, an old man wants to claim his million dollar prize that isn’t. In other movies you can see this as a setup to have incredible things happen on a crazy road trip, all with a big pay off at the end. Not this movie though. Right from the beginning as the cops pick up Woody walking on the road, he is told that he didn’t actually win the million dollar prize. “Why would they lie?” is all Woody says back. After realizing that his dad won’t give up, Woody’s son David, agrees to take to Lincoln, Nebraska to claim his prize.
The road trip leads them to Woody’s hometown. This is where the heart of the movie is. You meet Woody’s friends and family, who area all happy to hear about his good fortune. David learns a lot from his father on this trip, like why he decided to have kids. “Because I like to screw…it was bound to happen once or twice.” While in town, Woody becomes the talk of the town and even a quick family gathering starts to take place, including Woody’s wife busing over to meet them. Juno Squibb plays Woody’s wife, Kate. She steals the movie in all her scenes. As blunt as can be and quick to insult Woody and defend him with all her heart. From here on, you get a sense of Woody’s life although he rarely speaks of it. David hears stories about his dad and sees picture that his old town friends still have. As Woody’s family insists he hasn’t won anything and his home town family starting to call in favors with the prize money, it’s all apparent that the truth will come out soon. But that is not the end of this movie.
Woody still won’t give up on the prize. He’s headed for Lincoln, Nebraska and he does get there. Thats not important though, we knew he wasn’t gonna get the money. I hoped he was going to get it, for a few seconds I wish he had won. It shows how great this movie is, you really get to feel for Woody on this road trip. What follows is one best endings I can remember. An ending sequence that had me smiling and tearing up at the same time.
The story of how the Mary Poppins book came to be a movie. From first sight of this movie I didn’t give it much weight. How interesting could this be? Walt Disney himself trying to woo PL Travers into giving up the film rights for her book? Well, it was a good movie and I actually teared up at the end of the movie. Not what expected but was surprised at how good it was. A great cast with not just Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson but BJ Novak, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford and even Colin Farrell. The stories main plot is PL Travers finally meeting Walt Disney after many, many attempts to get Mary Poppins adapted into a film. Parallel to this story is PL Travers as a young girl and her relationship with her father. The only reason Travers is even meeting Disney is because she gets final script approval, she won’t sign the right over until she fully approves the script. This sets up many great scenes as Travers is working with the writer and the music composers, scolding them and shutting down their ideas over and over. As the development of the film progress (sort of), her childhood story is told through flashback. Her father, a banker just like Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins book, is shown to aid in Travers’ imagination but she is unaware of his drinking problems. As we see Walt Disney trying to figure out how to please Travers and finding out she just wont give, her flashbacks show how her dad’s relationship affected her. Although they do get on the melodramatic side and her mom is shafted in her character.
What seems as the final resolution of the film, spoiler alert: Travers gives Disney the film rights, actually sets up Travers to face her past as she watches the film premiere and in that scene Emma Thompson gives a very emotional performance that had the audience in tears as well as me.
Two slave films in a row, both great and both very different. Steve McQueen, the director of Shame and Hunger (both starring Michael Fassbender), brings us the true story of a free black man taken into slavery for 12 years of his life. Steve McQueen shows great talent behind the camera, he’s incredibly artistic but it doesn’t come of as pretentious. There is little exposition in the dialogue and he lets the camera take its time with each scene. As a man that was born free and is educated, Solomon Northup is tricked with a job opportunity but ends up kidnapped and sent south. A free black man put into shackles and beaten anytime he mentions that he is free must endure what a majority of his race has become accustomed to. As he goes from one slave owner to the next we see slavery from the eyes of a plantation owner that quotes that bible to justify their enslavement of blacks and from passive slaves themselves. Once particular scene early on in the film, Northup stands up to an overseer only to be hanged and left barely off the ground grasping for air. The camera lingers on the scene with dramatic music rising the tension but the music slowly fades away and we still concentrate on Northup. Other slaves come out but just go on with their work, slave children come out to play, all while Northup still hangs and the shot doesn’t cut away.
To add the great artistic value of the film is Chiwetel Ejiofor, a great actor that recently hasn’t had many great roles but a great actor nontheless. As Northup, Chiwetel gives an incredible performance as Northup goes from a free man to a slave that is regarded as a “special-negro.” Northup faces horrible treatment that he has not been used to, horrors that others like him, see on a daily basis are horrifying for him. Ejiofor projects Northup’s pain so well that just leaving the camera on him you see his pain and his hope slowly fade away as he goes year after year as slave.
After seeing the amazing direction of this movie I’m shocked I haven’t seen Shame or Hunger but I soon will.