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Customer Review

115 of 130 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making changes inside the system by working outside the system, December 18, 2013
This review is from: Dallas Buyers Club (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD with UltraViolet) (Blu-ray)
1985. A sexually active, straight, carousing, drug abusing Texas rodeo cowboy collapses. At the hospital he is told he has HIV and has less than thirty days to live. Does he succumb to the diagnosis, or does something else happen entirely?

Dallas Buyers Club is based on a true story about Ron Woodruff. I must admit I was unfamiliar with this movie. The ticket seller gave me an unconvincing outline, and I was about to walk away when a couple overhearing our conversation assured me it was a good movie.

I am glad to say they were correct. This is the exact type of movie that wins Oscars, and gets many nominations.

Matthew Mc Conaughey deserves to be nominated for playing someone battling a deadly disease who takes on big drugs and the FDA, to enable other sufferers like himself to have access to supplements and life saving drugs. He reputedly lost about 40 pounds for the role, and at times does look very gaunt, which gives an added layer of reality to his portrayal.

This is a multi faceted movie full of interesting characters, which operates on multiple levels at once. The personal struggle, the parallel struggles and contrasts, and the battle against different facets of authority. Jennifer Garner in a supporting role plays a feisty yet compassionate doctor, while a colleague with more of an eye to profit becomes a doctor shill for big drugs, which are experimental, still unproven, and in the clinical trial stage, and may have toxic side effects, while our protagonist has to chase down a caring and competent doctor in Mexico who was disbarred, for less toxic alternatives.

Why does one experimental method, with an unproven drug, take priority over drugs that are unapproved by the FDA? Aren't drugs undergoing clinical trials also unapproved? In both cases aren't people offering themselves as guinea pigs, and why shouldn't they be allowed to do that? After all, it is their lives.

I loved this movie, and I found the story far more engaging than I thought I would beforehand. I was particularly intrigued and a little surprised by how hard hitting it was against the FDA, and the role it plays in connection with the big pharmaceutical companies, and how it restricts our access even to harmless supplements.

I love it when a character is resourceful, so I loved the answers he gives an FDA official when he is stopped and questioned at the border.

As often happens in a movie of this nature, there is more than one great performance. An unrecognizable Jared Leto gives a breathtaking performance as a gaunt transgender woman also undergoing treatment who Ron meets, and who sources customers for him. Ray like others has to deal with Ron's homophobia, and it's refreshing to see how it plays out as the character develops. What I love is the journey the character makes through being confronted with his own mortality, and how that affects a wider circle of people.

If Leto does not get an Oscar nomination for his role then there is no justice in Hollywood. He would have to be a leading contender for Best Supporting Actor, as Matthew McConaughey would be for Best Actor.

One thing that has impressed me in recent years is McConaughey's transition from lightweight romcom, and pretty boy roles, to more challenging roles. For instance, I consider Lincoln Lawyer to be one of his best roles as a wheeler dealer lawyer but not the type of role for which an actor is typically nominated. He battles the system but has no weakness.

Actors win Oscars for playing two types of roles:

One is the psychopath, such as Daniel Day Lewis for There Will Be Blood, Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men, and Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter.

The second is actors battling disabilities or diseases and/or social injustice. Recently Octavia Spenser won for playing a maid dealing with racial discrimination, Meryl Streep for playing a Prime Minister battling alzheimers, and Christian Bale for playing a former boxer battling drug addiction. Jennifer Lawrence won playing a character battling grief who acts out sexually. Bradley Cooper was nominated for playing someone with bipolar disorder in the same movie. Jeff Bridges won an alcoholic country singer. More recently the trend has been moving toward playing real life characters.

As often happens the best movies of the year are released in December and timed for an Oscar run. I think most people will love it
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 3, 2014 10:32:36 PM PST
W. Ball says:
You must be as happy as I was to see the Oscars for best actor and best supporting actor. Richly deserved!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2014 11:09:19 PM PST
Inkhorn says:
Yes I was. I thought Jared Leto's performance was quite spectacular. MMcC, I was not so sure if he would win. I thought the guy from Twelve Years might stand a chance as a late runner, I was glad in the end though that McConaughey won.

He has shown consistent improvement as an actor and I loved his speech.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 29, 2014 1:41:14 AM PDT
Hi L.P. -
Hey, great job with the Oscar picks! Of course there was Cate Blanchett too, I was just as pleased there also. You absolutely know the winning formula - you called it last time also. Nice Job!
Sheryl

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2014 9:41:11 PM PDT
Inkhorn says:
Thanks Sheryl.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 7, 2014 1:18:15 AM PDT
Inkhorn says:
Yeah Sheryl,

I do seem to be pretty good at picking the Oscars. I was fairly certain Leto would win because his was an amazing performance. I thought McConaughey's stood a good chance of winning in a less clear cut category, but was less sure. I am glad that he won.

He is one of the few celebrities I have seen in the flesh, he walked in front of me on a crowded street in San Francisco on the block where I worked, and was actually filming while merging in with the crowd.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2014 5:37:02 AM PDT
Hi L.P. -
Did you pick them out, even with the Best Actress and Supporting Actress this year too? It truly does appear you have that sort of mind of what pulls the Academy each year. It did seem as though this year was so full of deserving performances, eh? Bravo my friend! I personally believed that there just could not be a way that Leto would not take the Award - He was simply amazing!

That is clearly a 'hold your breath moment' to be able to see McConaughey in the flesh right in front of you - astounding! By the way, did you see, "Mud"? That was also a great movie as far as I thought along with my mother who loved it also ...
Sheryl

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2014 8:36:54 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 8, 2014 8:43:14 AM PDT
Inkhorn says:
Well Sheryl,

I think Leto's was an incredible performance. I felt he was certain to win.
McConaughey I thought was good enough to win but felt a little less certain, particularly in the week of the Oscars when I saw Twelve Years a Slave I thought the other nominee with the unpronouceable name might win.

With the supporting actresses, I thought that was wide open. The nomination of Roberts and Streep for a little known movie I felt was paying lip service to famous actresses, rather than great performances, although I did think the Lupita performance was good even great, I was as surprised as everyone when she won.

I know she gave an impressive speech to a woman's group in the run up to the Oscars, and this certainly helped her chances.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrD7HGjghrE

I did put Mud on Netflix the other day. It did not particularly grab my attention, although it was interesting in places. Maybe I will have another look.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2014 9:06:36 AM PDT
L.P. - Thank you for that link! I didn't have the chance yet to view the movie, although knew it was stiff competition, I can see why.

I held my breath for Leto though. I felt if he was not a shoe-in after that performance, then something had to be wrong with the Academy, absolutely, inexcusably wrong. Needless to say, Cate Blanchett had it in her hip pocket - the movie didn't seem to receive the accolades I had thought it would get. Perhaps too much character judgment of the director...Whatever with that, Cate stole that show right out from any other female performance, no doubt from me.

I liked 'Mud' mainly because the intensity was not so heightened. So many of the films I have seen lately have been a bit too much for me so it was a more 'personal' like for that reason. Sometimes story movies are a lot easier on me than others that can crank up the heat, or should I say anxiety?!
Sheryl

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2014 9:41:40 AM PDT
Inkhorn says:
Another movie I quite enjoyed recently was Divergent. I particularly liked how the story fit around personality types such as dauntless, and abnegation.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2014 11:11:57 AM PDT
L. P. - Is Divergent still in theaters? It seems as though I have seen a commercial or two for that recently. The personality types you speak of, they are already known or your takeaway from watching the film? This seems pretty interesting to me.

What was your take on O'Russell's, "American Hustle"? I was not a fan and almost felt as if I was watching the adults playing 'Dressup' after awhile. I was so disappointed after "Silver Linings Playbook" although that movie connected with me more so because of the personal bipolar disorder theme. From someone who did not have BP Disorder, I wonder sometimes how the general audience member felt they could personally relate to Patrick. I think about that movie (I own it, of course) all of the time as it is just a scant amount of time in the daily life of a sufferer of bipolar disorder. The illness encompasses so very much more suffering and pain than could ever be displayed in a movie's time. It would really help if people watch all of the extra features with that and I am proud of any and all advocates, especially in 'high' places; Bradley Cooper, Glenn Close, Ron Howard, etc.

I will look more into Divergent, watch a trailer or two, and possibly can get to the movies since I 'gave up' after "American Hustle".
Thanks L.P.
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