Valdosta Daily Times


December 7, 2013

Movie reivews: "Dallas Buyers Club," “Philomena” and “The Book Thief”

-- — “Dallas Buyers Club” (Biographical Drama: 1 hour, 57 minutes)

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Steve Zahn and Jared Leto

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée

Rated: R (Sexuality, profanity, thematic elements, violence, nudity and drug usage)

Movie Review: The nature of this screenplay is gritty realism served with a large side of humanitarianism. The cast is superb and the overtone set is one that captivates and energizes. As a drama, this is one of the best of 2013.

In 1995 Dallas, Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) is an electrician and rodeo bull rider. His life is habitually partying; cigarettes, sex with multiple women, gambling, alcohol and drug usage have damaged his body. Now, he learns he has HIV. This diagnosis changes Woodroof, who is a racist and homophobic man. While in the hospital, doctors tell him he has about 30 days of life left. When told drugs for the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) are not available in the United States, Woodroof goes on a mission to find the necessary drugs to keep him alive. Along the way, he is shunned by longtime friends and coworkers, meets shady doctors and pharmaceutical representatives, takes on overbearing government officials of the Food and Drug Administration, befriends Rayon (Leto), a gay transvestite, and falls for a beautiful, intelligent Dr. Eve Saks (Garner).

This script is a biographical slice of life of real-life AIDS victim Ron Woodroof. Before Woodroof died, he had lost a considerable amount of weight. Matthew McConaughey lost weight to make his body nearly skin and bones to play Woodroof.

McConaughey plays Woodroof with a keen talent. This is McConaughey’s best role. He wrapped himself in this character to become a man faced with quickly approaching mortality. Although Woodroof is far from being a saint, McConaughey makes the man tangible. Care for his cause is contagious, even if one does not care for Woodroof’s careless lifestyle. McConaughey is definitely worthy of an Oscar nomination.

Leto is also striking as an actor. He plays a transvestite. He is barely recognizable under wig and makeup initially, but he gives a strong performance that should also net him an Academy Award nomination. At moments, he rivals McConaughey. The two men’s scenes together are some of the film’s best.

Garner is dazzling, too. She plays a female medical doctor in an era when men still ostracized female doctors. Garner holds her own with McConaughey and Leto.

If they all receive praise at awards ceremonies, these three cast members would deserve it. They make this film compelling.

Even more, the film uses sounds and visual angles that propel Woodroof as a persona. Sharp high-pitched sounds and cameras peeking through fence posts or other objects give audiences a chance to see life as Woodroof is viewing it as a man with a terrible ailment. These nuances work well to facilitate the story.

The story works well. It is believable. It is moving. More important, it is worth seeing because of many good attributes.

Hats off to Canadian director Vallée (“The Young Victoria,” 2009) for this resolute view of one man’s life, the cast for solid acting, writers Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack and the rest of the crew for this solid piece of work. This is one of the best original screenplays of 2013.      

Grade: A (Buy into this club now.)


“Philomena” (Drama: 1 hour, 38 minutes)

Starring: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark

Director: Stephen Frears

Rated: PG-13 (Profanity, thematic elements and sexual references)

Text Only
  • 140418-AR_Paul_Townsend001.jpg Graphic novelist draws on inspiration

    A few moments with graphic artist Paul Townsend is all you need to understand that his mind swirls with stories that he’s willing to explore on paper – no matter where they take him.

    April 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pompeys Pillar.JPG Pompeys Pillar

    Along their journey west to the Pacific and return east to St. Louis, Lewis and Clark left numerous marks recording their presence in order to validate a claim to the land for the United States.

    April 20, 2014 5 Photos

  • 1vsusr2014.jpg seen.yer-shoh

    Two of the most revealing exhibits each year at the Valdosta State University Fine Art Gallery are the fall and spring senior art shows.

    April 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • Film Review Draft Day_Rich copy.jpg ‘Draft Day’ scores a field goal at the theater

    Our reviewer looks at the movies "Draft Day'" and "Rio 2."

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • emerging1.jpg Emerging Artists: VSU shines spotlights on student performers

    Three years ago, Valdosta State University Theatre & Dance created a twist on its seasons’ conclusions.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • bicycle safety.jpg SGMC, Kohl’s to host Bike Smart safety event

    SGMC, Kohl’s Department Store, Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department and Safe Kids Lowndes County will host Bike Smart!

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140410-AR-Wake_Compound001.jpg Bringing wakeboards to Lowndes

    In college, many dream of their future career paths and, while some may seem far fetched, some people are able to make theirs a reality. Luke Tilt and Quinn Silvernale were able to do just that.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140401-Ballet003.jpg Beautiful Dancers

    The Ballet School in Valdosta offers children with special needs the chance to live out their dreams of being a dancer. For many, this may have seemed like a far fetched dream given their physical limitations, but as the Ballet School proves, there is no such thing as a physical limitation.

    April 13, 2014 5 Photos

  • Dido and Aeneas 1.jpg VSU Opera, Chamber Singers Present ‘Dido and Aeneas’ April 19-20

    The Valdosta State University Department of Music will present “Dido and Aeneas” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 19, and 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 20, in the West Hall Rotunda. Seating is limited to 100 people per performance.

    April 12, 2014 2 Photos

  • Film Review Captain A_Rich copy.jpg A salute to ‘Captain America’

    Our reviewer looks at "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," 'The Grand Budapest hotel' and "Bad Words."

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

Top News

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
     View Results