Dallas Buyers Club

Focus Features

Rated R for nudity, drug use, graphic sexuality, pervasive profanity, ethnic slurs and homophobic slurs

Matthew McConaughey Delivers Oscar-Quality Performance In Bittersweet Biopic

Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) was informed that he had just 30 days to live when he was diagnosed as HIV+ in 1986. At that time, the Food and Drug Administration was dragging its feet in terms of finding a cure, perhaps because AIDS was still considered by many to be a gay disease.

While pharmaceuticals elsewhere around the world were studiously testing hundreds of chemical compounds in hopes of developing an antidote, the only one approved for distribution in America was AZT, a medication so toxic to Ron’s system that it almost killed him. Rather than resign himself to a quick demise, the tough as nails Texan resolved to fight for his life.

First, he visited a clinic in Mexico promoting a promising cocktail of alternative therapies, purchasing a supply sufficient to test the experimental regimen on himself. When the trial proved effective, he snuck back across the border, posing as a priest, to smuggle a trunk full of pills out of the country.

Soon thereafter, the enterprising electrician founded the Dallas Buyers Club as a viable way of skirting the law to distribute unapproved substances such as Interferon, Peptide T and Compound Q. A mere $400 per month would afford members access to a variety of state-of-the-art AIDS remedies.

Despite his homophobia, the gruff, good ol’ boy went into business with a partner with deep roots in the gay community. Flamboyant Rayon (Jared Leto), an HIV+ transsexual, played a pivotal role in attracting a loyal clientele of fellow AIDS patients, since Ron was a given to employing offensive slurs when referring to homosexuals. Together, the unlikely pair built the fledgling enterprise into an economic success which provided a priceless service for patients frustrated by the FDA’s delayed response to the epidemic.

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Café de Flore), Dallas Buyers Club recounts Ron Woodroof’s desperate struggle to survive in the face of a governmental bureaucracy that appeared to not care. The movie was inspired by “Buying Time,” an article by Bill Minutaglio which appeared in the Dallas Morning News on August 9, 1992.

Riddled with historical inaccuracies, the bittersweet biopic frequently plays fast and loose with the facts in favor of fashioning an entertaining tale as dictated by the Hollywood fantasy formula. Truth be told, the real-life Ron was apparently not as intolerant of homosexuality as depicted. Furthermore, he was initially given a two-year life expectancy by his doctor, not the mere month stipulated in the picture.

Perhaps most importantly, some of the overpriced drugs he imported were banned for very good reason. Nevertheless, the fairytale related here is a terrific tour de force likely, at last, to land Matthew McConaughey that elusive Oscar nomination.

For, not only does the lanky thespian convincingly convey the acute mental anguish of an AIDS-ravaged soul, but he even shed about 50 pounds for the role. Sexual politics make strange bedfellows, too!

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 117 minutes

 

 

Finding Mr. Right

China Lion Features

Unrated

Millionaire’s Mistress Falls For Moonlighting Limo Driver In Cross-Cultural Romantic Comedy

JiaJia (Wei Tang) is expecting and hopes to marry her wealthy boyfriend, Lao Zhong (Yiwei Liu), even though the two-timing philanderer already has a wife and family. But the miffed multimillionaire is so worried about the unplanned pregnancy creating a scandal that he’s willing to send his high-maintenance mistress all the way from Beijing to America to give birth.

Because JiaJia loved the movie Sleepless In Seattle, she asks him to arrange for her to fly there. Upon landing, she’s met at the airport by a mild-mannered limo driver (Xiubo Wu) who quietly endures her verbal abuse for arriving late.

What JiaJia doesn’t know is that Frank happens to be a famous heart surgeon who once operated on her own father back home. Currently, he’s moonlighting behind the wheel and caring for an ailing daughter while waiting for his credentials to be approved so he can practice medicine in America.

As directed, he deposits JiaJia at a maternity center catering to Asian women planning anchor babies with automatic U.S. citizenship. Soon, she finds herself at odds with just about everybody around besides Frank, who has the patience of a saint.

This is the point of departure of Finding Mr. Right, a charming romantic comedy featuring likeable leads and a colorful enough supporting cast to hold your attention in spite of its predictability. Written and directed by Xiao Lu Xue, the film is hitting these shores after enjoying a phenomenal run in China earlier this year.

The movie is unlikely to make as much of a mark here, given that several developments in the derivative storyline are apt to strike a domestic audience as vaguely familiar. Nevertheless, the plot thickens when the spoiled-rotten heroine stops behaving badly after being dumped by her baby-daddy and starts to exhibit a sensitive side.

A pat, paint by numbers romp that telegraphs its every punch.

 

Good (2 stars)

In English and Mandarin with subtitles

Running time: 121 minutes

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening November 22, 2013

 

Delivery Man (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality, drug use, mature themes and brief violence) Vince Vaughn plays the title character in this baby-daddy comedy as a slacker who finds himself the subject of a class-action paternity suit filed by dozens of the children he fathered anonymously years earlier through a sperm bank. With Chris Pratt, Bobby Moynihan and Cobie Smulders.

 

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (PG-13 for profanity, intense violence, frightening images, mature themes and a suggestive situation) Second installment in the series based on the Suzanne Collins trilogy finds triumphant survivors Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) enjoying a victory tour before being drafted to compete in another death match, this one comprised entirely of former Hunger Games winners. With Liam Hemsworth, Jack Quaid, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravity and Donald Sutherland.

 

Bettie Page Reveals All (R for pervasive graphic nudity and sexuality) Reverential retrospective recounting the meteoric rise and fall of Bettie Page (1923-2008), the scandalous ‘50s pinup credited with launching America’s sexual revolution in the face of a Puritanical government witch hunt out to destroy her. Featuring commentary by Hugh Hefner, Perez Hilton and Mamie Van Doren.

 

Birth Of The Living Dead (Unrated) “The Making Of” documentary revisits the ragtag team assembled by George A. Romero to shoot Night Of The Living Dead in rural Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

The Christmas Candle (PG for mature themes) Faith-based parable based on Max Lucado’s novel set in 1890 about a fictional British village visited by an angel with plans to bestow a miracle. Co-starring Hans Matheson, Samantha Barks and Lesley Manville.

 

Cold Turkey (Unrated) Dysfunctional family dark comedy revolving around an eccentric clan’s Thanksgiving gathering hosted by the patriarch (Peter Bogdonavich) with the help of his second wife (Deborah Hines) and attended by his long-estranged (Alicia Witt) and inheritance-obsessed (Sonya Walger) daughters, and a gambling-addicted son (Ashton Holmes). Support cast includes Amy Ferguson, Victoria Tennant and Nicolas Coster.

 

Contracted (Unrated) Overwhelming regret horror flick about a young woman (Najarra Townsend) who assumes she’s caught an STD from a one-night stand only to learn it’s something far worse. Cast includes Caroline Williams, Alice Macdonald and Matt Mercer.

 

Detroit Unleaded (Unrated) Dreams deferred dramedy about a Lebanese-American youth (EJ Assi) forced to put his plans on hold in order to run the family gas station following his father’s death. With Steven Soro, Mary Assel and Nada Shouhayib. (In English and Arabic with subtitles)

 

Die Narbe (Unrated) Post-Cold War documentary taking the viewer on a dizzying helicopter along the entire length of the Berlin Wall. (In German with subtitles)

 

Everyday (Unrated) Romance drama about the pressures exerted on the relationship of a couple when the husband (Ian Simon) is given a stiff prison sentence for drug smuggling, leaving his wife (Shirley Henderson) to raise their four children alone. Featuring Shaun Kirk, Katrina Kirk, Stephanie Kirk and Robert Kirk.

 

Following The Ninth (Unrated) Classical music documentary examining the universal impact of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

 

Narco Cultura (R for profanity, drug use, graphic violence and disturbing images) El Barrio documentary about the escalating number of young Latinos glorifying ruthless drug traffickers as outlaw heroes worth emulating.

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*/ ?>