Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Best Picture Blitz 2014, Part 4

Continuing our pre-Oscar movie blitz, Precocious Daughter and I took in Dallas Buyers Club over the weekend.

The first thing I want to say is, Do not take a 14-year-old to see this movie, OMG, it has sex and drugs and a whole bunch of cursing in it. I did it because I'm a terrible mother. Also...um, it's got an Important Message and it's Art and stuff. And PDaughter is really mature (much more so than I am). Mostly the terrible mother part, plus the other things.

The second thing I want to say is, Matthew, Jared, eat. You're too thin. Have some soup. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto lost a combined 374 pounds or so to play the roles of AIDS sufferers. They totally earned their nominations for Best Scary-Skinny Guy and Best Supporting Scary-Skinny Guy, respectively. I think Matthew's pornstache and Jared's cheekbones should have been nominated for Awesomest Facial Features, as well. But you can't have everything.

Pictured: Pornstache, cheekbones, bones.

Dallas Buyers Club is a heavy movie. I don't usually see heavy movies. There's a lot of heavy shit going on the world at all times. I like my entertainment slightly on the mindless side.

Same way I like my men.
That said, it's a very good movie. Watching McConaughey's performance as Ron Woodroof, I realized that it's one of the very few I've seen lately in which the protagonist actually transforms in the course of the film. The concept of transformation is at the heart of drama, yet we don't see it all that much in mainstream movies. I'm thinking of two recent manly-man dramas, Captain Philips and All Is Lost. In both of them, you've got lead characters who are traditional, stoic, resourceful guys who endure the challenges they face by...being stoic and resourceful. Tom Hanks and Robert Redford are two of my favorite actors, but they're not given all that much to do once their characters and central conflicts are introduced.

But when we meet Ron Woodroof, he's a profane, racist, homophobic redneck horndog. Then he gets AIDs and makes a transgender friend and carries around a really hilarious 80s-era mobile phone the size of a loaf of bread.  I may have oversimplified the plot. Nonetheless, the entire movie really is about how Ron navigates the Scylla and Charibdis of the things he can control and the things he can't and how it makes him a different person from who he was.

Through it all, his mustache remains constant.

Guess what? I can relate to that a lot more than I can relate to fighting Somali pirates. Not that Captain Phillips isn't a really good movie - I enjoyed it a lot, and there were some fine performances. But what Matthew McConaughey does in Dallas Buyers Club is a lot tougher to watch - and ultimately a lot more rewarding.

Still, if you don't like movies with sex and drugs and a whole bunch of cursing, be warned. Because...damn.

Also, I can tell you that if your impression of the city of Dallas in the 1980s was formed by the TV series "Dallas," you should definitely see this movie, because it's a way more accurate representation. There really were plenty of women who didn't sport big hair and/or shoulder pads, and there really were (and are) at least as many gay bars as redneck bars. I don't remember quite so many men having mustaches back then - it's a very stache-centric movie - but maybe they got a better deal on Matthew's by buying in bulk.

Next up: Nebraska.


  1. I can't wait to see this movie. I probably won't take my kid, but only because he never stops talking.

  2. One of the most striking things for me about Dallas Buyer's Club is how believable Woodroof's transformation is. I went in thinking, yeah, this'll be all heartwarming and feel-good, but in the end it'll be like Denzel Washington's transformation in Philadelphia which I wanted but didn't quite believe...But then...the grocery store scene. Totally believed it, because I knew Woodroof wasn't doing it for Rayon. He was doing it for himself.

    Also not even slightly tangentially related but still funny: the show "Dallas" was very popular in Romania when Ceaucescu was in power. Ol' Nicolae had it shown on state TV to show people how decadent and corrupt Western capitalism was. Most Romanians instead thought wealthy Texans were the most awesome people in the world.

  3. Look, my parents let us see Blue Lagoon in the theater. I was six. I don't feel scarred for life. I cannot WAIT to hear what you think of Nebraska, which is the only one of the Oscar contenders I have seen.


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