Saturday, November 30, 2013

John Waters' Top Ten of 2013

I love it when filmmakers make ten best lists.  I wish more did the same, it's a small window into the mind of the artist and an expression of filmmaker as fan. A little while back Quentin Tarantino made his list of the best of the year and now comes John Waters'.

  1. Spring Breakers- directed by Harmony Korine
  2. Camille Claudel 1915- directed by Bruno Dumont
  3. Abuse of Weakness- directed by Catherine Breillat
  4. Hors Satan- directed by Bruno Dumont
  5. After Tiller- directed by Martha Shane & Lana Wilson
  6. Hannah Arendt- directed by Margarethe von Trotta
  7. Beyond the Hills- directed by Christian Mungiu
  8. Blue Jasmine- directed by Woody Allen
  9. Blackfish- directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite
  10. I'm So Excited- directed by Pedro Almodóvar

Friday, November 29, 2013

Sight & Sound Top Ten of 2013

  1. The Act of Killing- directed by Joshua Oppenheimer
  2. Gravity- directed by Alfonso Cuarón
  3. Blue is the Warmest Color- directed by Abdellatif Kechiche
  4. The Great Beauty- directed by Paolo Sorrentino
  5. Frances Ha- directed by Noah Baumbach
  6. A Touch of Sin- directed by Zhangke Jia
  7. Upstream Color- directed by Shane Carruth
  8. The Selfish Giant- directed by Clio Barnard
  9. Norte, The End of History- directed by Lav Diaz
  10. Stranger by the Lake- directed by Alain Guiraudie

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Cahiers du Cinéma's Top 10 of 2013

Promising a riskier top ten list than anyone else, the Cahiers du Cinéma have announced their picks for the best of the year.  This might be the only group brave enough to put some of friskiest (and in the cases of #1 and #3 the gay sexiest) films of the year in their top three.

The controversial French gay cruising drama Stranger by the Lake
  1. Stranger by the Lake- directed b Alain Guiraudie 
  2. Spring Breakers- directed by Harmony Korine 
  3. Blue is the Warmest Color- directed by Abdellatif Kechiche 
  4. Gravity- directed by Alfonso Cuarón 
  5. A Touch of Sin- directed by Zhangke Jia 
  6. Lincoln- directed by Steven Spielberg 
  7. La Jalousie- directed by Philippe Garrel 
  8. Nobody's Daughter Haewon- directed by Sang-soo Hong 
  9. You & the Night- directed by Yann Gonzalez 
  10. Age of Panic- directed by Justine Triet

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Out of the Furnace

Scott Cooper's latest film, Out of the Furnace, his follow-up to his melancholic Academy Award winning country western themed debut Crazy Heart traipses through the drudges of contemporary working class miserablism, whilst trying to affirm itself into something of myth.  Reminiscent, if only at face value to The Place Beyond the Pines, Derek Cianfrance's gritty springtime-released indie which starred Ryan Gosling, this is another doomed tale of the unlucky who succumb to circumstance with ambitions to harken back to the filmmaking standards prevalent in 1970s American movies while infusing them with a 'now' sense of topicality.  It's an ambition that's well-intentioned and in its most stirring sequences, beautifully filmed, but there's a difference between homage and interpretation. Out of the Furnace visually and stylistically recalls Vietnam-era classics like The Deer Hunter and Coming Home, yet the effort is strained because the characters are generic cinematic tropes of the most hopeless kind.  And however dressed up with a METHOD (the caps are important) preparedness by an ensemble of great actors, the film never manages to come close to bringing it close to the human heart, soul or mind.

The gritty morality tale takes place in Braddock, Pennsylvania, on which it was also filmmed, one of the millions of small American towns where life is hard, and living in it is harder.  Disfranchised and full of the type of working class strife that typically only gets depicted on film in depressing movies that Irish filmmaker Ken Loach likes to make, yet Cooper adeptly establishes a sense of place and time, at least initially, of contemporary men and their struggles in the economically depressed Rust Belt.  A steel mill kind of town, a place where Russell Baze (Christian Bale) works and likely assumes he will expire, not unlike his cancer-ridden father who worked their before him and so forth and so forth.  Sam Shepard pops in as his salt of the earth uncle to ruminate of the better, less scummy times. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Indie Spirit Stats

With 12 Years a Slave leading the nomination tally for the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards, and thus maintaining its "frontrunner" status, let's have a look back at the Best Feature winners at the indie kudo-fest throughout history.  Only two films have won the Best Feature prize without being nominated for any Academy Awards.  Stats below:

A Brief History of the Indie Spirit Awards

  • 2013: Silver Linings Playlist- directed by David O. Russell- nominated for 8 Oscars including Best Picture (lost to Argo); won Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence.)
  • 2012: The Artist- directed by Michel Hazanavicious- won 5 Oscars including Best Picture; remains only the second film to date to win both the Spirit and Oscar. Debatable rule bend to include The Artist as the Spirits' eligibility requirements state all features must be American made.
  • 2011: Black Swan- directed by Darren Aronofsky- nominated for 5 Oscars including Best Picture; won Best Actress (Natalie Portman.)  Of Note: Oscar champ The King's Speech won the Best International Film prize at the Spirits.
  • 2010: Precious- directed by Lee Daniels- nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Picture (lost to The Hurt Locker); won Supporting Actress (Mo'Nique) and Screenplay.
  • 2009: The Wrestler- directed by Darren Aronofsky- nominated for 2 Oscars including Best Actor (Mickey Rourke.)
  • 2008: Juno- directed by Jason Reitman- nominated for 4 Oscars including Best Picture (lost to No Country For Old Men); won Best Screenplay.
  • 2007: Little Miss Sunshine- directed by Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris- nominated for 4 Oscars including Best Picture (lost to The Departed); won Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin) and Screenplay.
  • 2006: Brokeback Mountain- directed Ang Lee- nominated for 8 Oscars including Best Picture (lost to Crash); won Best Director (Lee), Screenplay and Score.
  • 2005: Sideways- directed by Alexander Payne- nominated for 5 Oscars including Best Picture (lost to Million Dollar Baby); won Best Screenplay.
  • 2004: Lost in Translation- directed by Sophia Coppola- nominated for 4 Oscars including Best Picture (lost to Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King); won Screenplay.
  • 2003: Far From Heaven- directed by Todd Haynes- nominated for 4 Oscars including Best Actress (Julianne Moore.)
  • 2002: Memento- directed by Christopher Nolan- nominated for 2 Oscars including Best Screenplay.
  • 2001: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon- directed by Ang Lee- nominated for 10 Oscars including Best Picture (lost to Gladiator); won Foreign Film.  Rule bend to include Crouching Tiger as the Spirits' eligibility requirements state all features must be American made.
  • 2000: Election- directed by Alexander Payne- nominated for 1 Oscar (Best Screenplay.)
  • 1999: Gods & Monsters- directed by Bill Condon- nominated for 3 Oscars including Best Actor (Ian McKellen); won Best Screenplay.
  • 1998: The Apostle- directed by Robert Duvall- nominated for 1 Oscar (Best Actor.)
  • 1997: Fargo- directed by Joel & Ethan Coen- nominated for 7 Oscars including Best Picture (lost to The English Patient); won Best Actress (Frances McDormand) and Screenplay.
  • 1996: Leaving Las Vegas- directed by Mike Figgis- nominated for 4 Oscars including Director, Screenplay and Actress (Elisabeth Shue; won Best Actor (Nicolas Cage.)
  • 1995: Pulp Fiction- directed by Quentin Tarantino- nominated for 7 Oscars including Best Picture (lost to Forrest Gump); won Screenplay.
  • 1994: Short Cuts- directed by Robert Altman- nominated for 1 Oscar (Best Director.)
  • 1993: The Player- directed by Robert Altman- nominated for 3 Oscars including Director and Screenplay.
  • 1992: Rambling Rose- directed by Martha Coolidge- nominated for 2 Oscars including Best Actress (Laura Dern.)
  • 1991: The Grifters- directed by Stephen Frears- nominated for 4 Oscars including Best Director, Best Actress (Anjelica Huston) and Best Supporting Actress (Annette Bening.)
  • 1990: sex, lies & videotape- directed by Steven Soderbergh- nominated for 1 Oscar for Best Screenplay.
  • 1989: Stand & Deliver- directed by Ramón Menéndez- nominated for 1 Oscar- Best Actor (Edward James Olmos.)
  • 1988: River's Edge- directed by Tim Hunter
  • 1987: Platoon- directed by Oliver Stone- Won 4 Oscars including Best Picture; nominated for 8 total Oscars; the only film to win both top prizes until The Artist.
  • 1986: After Hours- directed by Martin Scorsese

PGA: Best Documentary Nominations

The Producers Guild Association of America presents its picks for Best Documentary of 2013:

We Steal Secrets, the other movie about Wiki-Leaks is a PGA documentary nominee

  • A Place at the Table- Kristi Jacobson & Lori Silverbush
  • Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story- Brad Bernstein
  • Life According to Sam- Sean Fine & Andrea Nix
  • We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wiki-Leaks- Alex Gibney
  • Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life & Time of Tim Hetherington- Sebastian Junger

Independent Spirit Awards Nominations

12 Years a Slave leads with 7 nominations.
12 Years a Slave
All is Lost
Frances Ha
Inside Llewyn Davis

Blue Caprise
Fruitvale Station
Una Noche

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (given to the best feature made under $500,000)
Computer Chess
Crystal Fairy
Museum Hours
Pit Stop
This is Martin Bonner

Shane Carruth, Upstream Color
J.C. Chandor, All is Lost
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Jeff Nichols, Mud
Alexander Payne, Nebraska

Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Robert Redford, All is Lost 

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Gaby Hoffmann, Crystal Fairy
Brie Larson, Short Term 12
Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Short Film Bake-Off

Ten live-action and ten animated short films advance for this years Oscar race.  Five of each will eventually be nominated.

Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)- Esteben Crespo
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)- Xavier Legrand
Dva (Two)- Mickey Nedimovic
Helium- Anders Walter
Pitaako Mu Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)- Selma Vilhunen
Record/Play- Jesse Atlas
Throat Song- Miranda de Pencier
The Voorman Problem- Mark Gill

Aningaaq, Jonás Cuarón's eligible short, a companion piece to Gravity, which he co-wrote with director dad Alfonso, alas, didn't make the cut.

Feral- Daniel Sousa
Get a Horse!- Lauren MacMullan- Mickey Mouse is eligible for an Oscar!  Or he's short is.  If this one wins (the film will be played theatrically with Frozen), it would mark the first time a Mickey cartoon won an Oscar in 72 years.  Walt Disney voices the mouse in this throwback toon.
Gloria Victoria- Theodore Ushev
Hollow Land- Uri Kranot & Michelle Kranot
The Missing Scarf- Eoin Duffy
Mr. Hublot- Laurent Witz
Possessions- Shuhei Morita
Requiem for Romance- Jonathan Ng
Room on the Broom- Max Lang & Jan Lachauer
Subconscious Password- Chris Landreth

MISSING: The Blue Umbrella, Pixar's latest short (which played with Monsters University

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens with a moment of reflection.  Earthy huntress Katniss Everdeen (again played with a wily grace by Jennifer Lawrence), the lethally clever co-victor of the teenage bloodbath of the last chapter, is seemingly lost, fragile and scarred.  Staring into a meadow with the demons of her past in a state of unease and terror.  The moment doesn't stick very long, but Lawrence, who has become a major movie star and won an Oscar in between the first two cycles of her massively successful YA franchise, manages to shade the smallest morsels of subtext and longing throughout the assembly line busy work of the sequel (there are basics that need to be covered and quickly), igniting the film with a conscience it doesn't necessarily earn nor deserve.  That the second installment of Suzanne Collins' bestselling trilogy rests solely on her mighty shoulders would be an understatement; Lawrence infuses a soul amidst the corporate branding and provides a reason to care.

Not that the film around her isn't arresting in it of itself.  Francis Lawrence (Water For Elephants, I Am Legend) inherits the reins to the franchise from first chapter director Gary Ross and the second film is overall more polished, brisk and shapely, even as it runs its charted course that's largely the same of the first film.  Clearly the budget has raised-- the special effects are a bit flashier, the make-up and hairstyling effects a bit more garish and the overall design of the picture is a bit more fluid and more fittingly epic in stature as for sure, the stakes have been raised.  Even within its by-design packaging, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ups the ante in an entertaining, if hardly surprising way-- the screenplay by Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt manages to be looser, funnier and meatier all at once, breathing glimmers of life, if not exactly insight, from the more stridently structured first outing.  Yet, and this isn't exactly a denouncement of the film as a whole, but a matter of fact-- Catching Fire is but a mere stepping stone to the next installment, the forthcoming two-part (oh brother) finale.  As such the generously plotted two-and-one-half-hour film can only be as good as its "to be continued" conclusion.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Casting Society of America Awards

Silver Lining Playbook- Mary Vernieu, Lindsay Graham, Diane Heery, Jason Loftus

Argo- Lora Kennedy

Moonrise Kingdom- Douglas Aibel, Henry Russell Bergstein

Mud- Francine Maisler, Diana Guthrie

The Sessions- Ronnie Yeskel

Wreck-It-Ralph- Jamie Sparer Roberts

The Learning Curve- Kendra Patterson

The Mindy Project- Felicia Fasana

House of Cards- Laray Mayfield

Girls- Jennifer Euston

Homeland- Judy Henderson, Lisa Mae Fincannon, Craig Fincannon

Behind the Candelabra- Carmen Cuba, Wittney Horton

The Young & the Restless- Judy Blyne Wilson

iCarly- Krisha Bullock, Jennifer K.J. Treadwell

Family Guy- Linda Lamontagne

Nina Tassler

Linda Lowy

Michael J. Fox

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Golden Globe's Foreign-Language Film Competition

Here are the films that are eligible to compete in the Best Foreign Language Film race at the upcoming Golden Globe Awards.  Blue is the Warmest Color fans (my review is coming up soon) can rejoice, even though it's not eligible for this years Oscars race in that category.
(Oscar submissions in bold)

  • 8-Ball (Finland)
  • 15 Years and One Day (Spain)
  • Above Dark Waters (Finland)
  • Aglaya (Hungary)
  • All God's Children (Moldova)
  • Another House (Canada)
  • The Attack (Lebanon)
  • Augustine (France)
  • Bethlehem (Israel)

Monday, November 11, 2013

British Independent Film Award Nominations

Metro Manila
The Selfish Giant
Starred Up
Le Week-End

Jon S. Baird, Filth
Clio Barnard, The Selfish Giant
Sean Ellis, Metro Manila
Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin
David Mackenzie, Starred up

Charlie Cattrall, Titus
Tina Gharavi, I Am Nasrine
Jeremy Lovering, In Fear
Omid Nooshin, Last Passenger
Paul Wright, For Those in Peril

Jim Broadbent, Le Week-End
Steve Coogan, Philamena
Tom Hardy, Locke
Jack O'Connell, Starred Up
James McAvoy, Filth 

Judi Dench, Philomena
Lindsay Duncan, Le Week-End
Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin
Felicity Jones, The Invisible Woman
Saoirse Ronan, How I Live Now 


What's old feels strikingly and delightfully new with Disney's fifty-third animated feature Frozen, a fresh and engaging musical charmer that hews closely to the Mouse House's patented wheelhouse, yet nevertheless is sharply woven together with the very fabrics that established said wheelhouse.  Loosely based on Hans Christen Anderson's The Snow Queen, Frozen is yet another princess fairy tale to add to the canon, but one made with a generous supply of warmth, tenderness and visual aplomb, beckoning back to the hallowed Disney Renaissance days.  And that's the remarkable thing about a good Disney flick, the way it charms the senses back to that child-like sense of wonder, magic and possibility, one that begs you to tear down all the formulaic trappings on the wall and  marvel at something mystifying.   With its grand sense of play Frozen does that just enough to pull at the heartstrings and, in its stronger moments, make you in believe in the beautiful hokum that can only be concocted in the land of make believe.

The film takes place in the make believe village of Arendelle, a lush Nordic retreat (rendered beautifully in all its wide screen glory by the films ace technicians) that houses two princesses-- Elsa and Anna.  First seen as playful imps, Elsa and Anna frolic about in carefree bliss; Elsa has a magical secret which makes playtime even more fun-- the magical ability to turn anything and anywhere into a wintery wonderland-- Ms. Freeze if you will.  With  power comes responsibility, just as with secrets comes a consequence-- a common movie totem and plot propellent-- and a young Elsa is forced to hide her gift and even cause her charming village to be nearly hidden away out of protection.  Such to the extent that when the two girls grow older and eventually become orphaned (this is a Disney film; that's a must too!) and Elsa is set to made queen, her coronation marks the first time in many a moon in which the gates to Arendelle have even been opened.  Princess Anna, however, made magically unaware of her sister's talents finds herself developing into a ripe and cheery young woman in the very mode of her Disney princess sisters of yore; at first it reads that co-directors and screenwriters Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee are aiming for parody; Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) is so perkily come hither.  Nearly intoxicated in boy-crazy rushes, she's instantly smitten with Prince Hans (voiced by Santino Fontana) that she becomes engaged to him only hours after meeting.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

European Film Award Nominations

The Best Offer (Italy)
Blancanieves (Spain/France)
Blue is the Warmest Color (France)
The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belguim)
The Great Beauty (Italy/France)
Oh Boy! (Germany)

I'm So Excited (Spain)
Love is All You Need (Denmark) 
The Priest's Children (Croatia/Serbia)
Welcome Mr. President! (Italy) 

Pablo Berger, Blancanieves
Felix van Groeningen, The Broken Circle Breakdown
Abdellatif Kechiche, Blue is the Warmest Color
François Ozon, In the House
Paolo Sorrentino, The Great Beauty
Guiseppe Tornatore, The Best Offer

Johan Heldenbergh, The Broken Circle Breakdown
Jude Law, Anna Karenina
Fabrice Luchini, In the House
Tom Schilling, Oh Boy!
Toni Servillo, The Great Beauty

Veerle Baetens, The Broken Circle Breakdown
Luminita Gheorghiu, Child's Pose
Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina
Barbara Sukowa, Hannah Arendt
Naomi Watts, The Impossible

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Oy vey!  The dreary and unintentionally absurd Diana stars Naomi Watts as the People's Princess and chronicles the last two years of her life.  Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (who ventured into similar terrain with the Academy Award nominated Downfall about the waning years of Adolph Hitler) and scripted by Stephen Jeffries, Diana is a miscalculation from the start, with its made-for-trashy-television approach and unsubtle staging of the demise of one of the most beguiling and enigmatic creatures of the twentieth century.  The film begins with Diana dithering about in her Parisian hotel room, a sense of dread swells the soundtrack, as if she knew.  Well we know whats about to happen; it was one of the most historic events of the last thirty years.  As she careens down the hotel corridors, she stops, the camera stops to look back.  It's meant to be an artistic moment of reflection, but the effect is simply ridiculous.  Oh the foreboding!

Yet this is a love story, and the title cards bring us back two years earlier to another confusing part of the Princess Diana puzzle, just before the divorce heard round the world from Prince Charles became final and the world was as enraptured to the dramatics of the royal family in a more singularly trashy way.  Aware her marriage is but up, but in no position to call it officially kaput, the film posits that Diana had one last shot at happiness and romance with a dapper Pakistani heart surgeon named Hasnat Khan (played by Lost actor Naveen Andrews.)  The two meet cute in a traditionally Hollywood moment at a hospital when a friend of the late princess falls ill and a grand romance develops.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cinema Eye Nominations

Cinema Eye, alongside the IDA, honor the best in documentary features.  The Act of Killing and Stories We Tell appear at this juncture to be two of the most acclaimed of the year.  Musings and Stuff heartily approves of Sarah Polley's wonderful intimate portrait.

The Act of Killing
After Tiller
Cutie & the Boxer
Stories We Tell

Joshua Oppenheimer, The Act of Killing
Martha Shane & Lana Wilson, After Tiller
Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Véréna Paravel, Leviathan
Tinatin Gurchiani, The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear
Sarah Polley, Stories We Tell 

Janus Billeskov Jansen, The Act of Killing
Alain Berliner, First Cousin Once Removed
Nels Bangerter, Let the Fire Burn
Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel, Leviathan
Francisco Bello, Our Nixon

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Best Animated Feature

Nineteen films have been deemed eligible to compete for this years Best Animated Feature Oscar:

Disney's Frozen

  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
  • The Croods
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Epic
  • Ernest & Celestine
  • The Fake
  • Free Birds
  • Frozen
  • Khumba
  • The Legend of Sarila
  • A Letter to Momo
  • Monsters University
  • O Apóstolo
  • Planes
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion
  • Rio: 2096: A Story of Love & Fury
  • The Smurfs 2
  • Turbo
  • The Wind Rises

Monday, November 4, 2013

2013 Award Season Moment of Zen

Upstart A24 was serious, it appears, in its (adorable) efforts to get James Franco some awards consideration love for Spring Breakers.  A pleasurable folly, even though his delightfully bent Alien was one of the few watchable aspects of a largely unwatchable movie.  It does ask a question however considering how insanely prolific Franco is, when (if at all) the Academy will acknowledge him again?  This year alone he acted in the indie spring hit Breakers, the diametrically opposed spring hit Oz: The Great & Powerful, the summer hit This Is the End, Lovelace and the upcoming Homefront.  Not to mention directing the Sundance doc Interior. Leather Bar. (the bizarre re-imagining of the cut out footage of Friedkin's Crusing-- when will that ever appear?), the Cannes title Faulkner adaptation As I Lay Dying (which he also co-starred) and the Venice title Cormac McCarthy adaptation Child of God (co-starred again.)  He also appeared in the fall festival entry Palo Alto from next generation Coppola, Gia which was based on his own collection of short stories.  Whew!  Even if none of the product above is "awards baity" in the refined sense of the word, all he had to do to get his first nomination was saw off his arm.

All the power to A24 though--- while your at it, please contribute a little nugget of an awards campaign to your strongest 2013 title-- the sensitively and beautifully acted teen drama The Spectacular Now.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dallas Buyers Club

The tentative but conventionally rousing Dallas Buyers Club tells the extraordinary true story of Ron Woodroof, a Texan good ol' boy who in the late 80s was given a death sentence when he became infected with the AIDS virus.  On the outset an unsavory, seemingly nasty character prone to homophobic, misogynistic and self-destructive outbursts all in the name of retaining his chauvinistic alpha male supremacy, Woodroof became an unlikely foot soldier in providing vital drugs and vitamins, as well as awareness at a time when the American consciousness was too busy piddling their thumbs as thousands of people died.  It's an important and significant story and chronicle of a not-so-distant past horror story, tackling a subject that Hollywood has for the most part been afraid and sketchy at best in telling despite all the red hearts that have so famously been adorned on some of the brightest and most beautiful movie stars in the last quarter century. 

In many ways, because of this and despite this, Dallas Buyers Club is a difficult movie to merely be judged on its own merits and tells a story too significant in recent American history to be ignored or deemed anything less than admirable even if the hopes, expectations and vitality of such a tale are far more deserving of something that soars rather than just exists.  Even more considering its been twenty years since Jonathan Demme's Philadelphia became one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to eve talk about AIDS.  Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y.) and written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, Dallas Buyers Club is a reverent by-the-numbers account of how Woodroof (played by Matthew McConaughey), a hick-ish electrician became one of the unwilling champions of a cause that was all but ignored by the medical and political machines of Reagan-era America.  Once contracted with the virus and given the thirty days left to live speech by doctors, Woodroof explored his options-- first by overdosing on AZT, the hazardous product being hyped up that was in the early process of being tested, then by exporting unapproved medications being sold south of the border and around the world.  Ingredients starts to click and slightly improve his condition and eventually he forms a membership club to his AIDS-afflicted neighbors.  By design, the film charts itself with the sort of muckraking elan of Erin Brockovich

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