Dallas Buyers Club

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Of course, now that the Oscars have been handed out, I have to see what all the hubub was about with this film. And I am happy to say…I wasn’t disappointed! With 2 amazing performances, a solid script and a polished supporting cast, “Dallas Buyers Club” showed me why it was a highly considered Oscar contender in 2013.

Redneck electrician Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) has contracted the HIV virus during the AIDS scare in the mid-80’s. He is told that he has a month to live. After receiving the news, he loses all of his friends, his job and his home and finds himself lost & scared. All attempts at finding a cure seem exhausted until he finds himself in Mexico, where he meets a doctor who seems to understand the nature of the disease and how it can be treated using alternative, healthy treatments. Woodroof finds himself an activist in America as he attempts to treat hundreds of patients who are dying from the deadly disease with the supplements. The FDA, however, seeks to shut he and his business down due to their lack of involvement and their push for a new drug that is being tested.

All roles in this film are spot on. Obviously, Matthew McConaughey’s performance speaks for itself as he won the Best Actor award for it. He is so immersed in his role that he lost almost a scary amount of weight and is so convincing as Woodroof that I often times forgot that it was an actor playing in a role! Jared Leto also won a golden statue for his role as Rayon, a cross-dressing homosexual who befriends Ron, despite his ignorance and hate, and helps him set up his shop. They eventually form a wonderful friendship and it’s that which drives this film. Leto is amazing in this role and I can’t imagine anyone else playing this character. Rayon is a complex person and Leto carries the role with such grace that often times you don’t realize that he is a man! Jennifer Garner is also excellent as a doctor who becomes friends with Woodroof and who is a liaison at the hospital.

I admit, I have never heard of Ron Woodroof. But this story, which has been told with a little bit fact and a little bit of fiction, is an amazing one. It’s the story of one man, fighting for his life and fighting against corporate America. It is also a coming of age story, as Woodroof finds himself to be vilified by his community only to be adopted by a new and understanding one. It is beautifully told and well directed and it deserved to be considered one of the best films of 2013!

OVERALL RATING: A

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And The 2014 Oscars Go To….

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2013 was a pretty damn good year for movies! And this year, there are 9 of them that have been chosen to represent for the right to be name the “Best Motion Picture Of The Year!” I can’t say that I have seen ALL of the films that have been nominated, but I have seen my share so I thought I would take a stab at who I think will be the big winners this year and which film I would pick to represent as the best of 2013. So…without further adieu…

Let’s just skip to what I think is gonna be a sweep in several of the smaller categories, shall we? Because I have a feeling, the sci-fi blockbuster “Gravity” is gonna clean house in several of them. So…”Gravity” takes BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS, SOUND EDITING, SOUND MIXING, ORIGINAL SCORE, EDITING & CINEMATOGRAPHY. So, right out of the box, that puts “Gravity” with 6 golden statues!

Okay…now with the rest…

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: Although I WANT to give it to U2 for their song “Ordinary Love” from the soundtrack of “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom,” I think the film “Frozen” might sweep in and take this one with “Let It Go.” So…I’ll go with “Let It Go” and root for U2. And I won’t be upset if I got this one wrong!

COSTUME DESIGN: “American Hustle.” I mean…here you have 4 of the most recognizable actors in the business and I never once thought to myself, “Huh…Christian Bale looks ridiculous in a combover.”

PRODUCTION DESIGN: “The Great Gatsby.” I didn’t really care much for it overall as a film, but the production design on it is outstanding and possibly the only reason (other than Leonardo DiCaprio) to sit through its 2+ hour runtime.

ANIMATED FILM: “Frozen.” I haven’t seen it but the word of mouth (which is mostly from my daughter and her friends) is outstanding!

BEST WRITING, SCREENPLAY BASED ON PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED MATERIAL: “12 Years A Slave.” Despite being an outstanding film, I don’t think it will win in many of the other categories and I see the Academy wanting to recognize it in some capacity so….here it is!

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: “American Hustle.” Who is hustling who in this film? It’s a great script that carries through to the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it and so did everyone else. Other than possibly “Blue Jasmine,” I don’t think this one could be topped in this category.

BEST DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity.” Hands down. No question. It’s a done deal.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: Having only seen 3 of the 5, I’ll go with who I would pick and that would be Sally Hawkins in “Blue Jasmine.” But I have to imagine Jennifer Lawrence will get serious consideration also.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE: I’ve heard Jared Leto is outstanding in “Dallas Buyer’s Club” but I haven’t seen it. So, until I do, I’m going with Michael Fassbender for his role as a plantation owner in “12 Years A Slave.” He’s also been a so many other films where he’s excellent that I think it’s time the guy got one…don’t you think?

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE: THIS is a tough one! Here’s the deal…I HATED “Blue Jasmine.” And when I say HATE, I mean it in one of the nicest ways possible. Cate Blanchett is spectacular as a wealthy woman who is brought down to earth when her husband is indicted and sent to jail. Blanchett chews up the entire movie and I absolutely abhorred her character throughout the film. Then…you get to the end…and I found myself sympathizing with her and THAT is the sign of either A) a great actress or B) writing so amazing that the actor or actress can’t screw it up. So…which do I go with? Amy Adams’ character in “American Hustle” was dead on also (I even predicted her to win in my review of the movie) and I hear Judi Dench is also a possibility for “Philomena.” Well…I haven’t seen “Philomena” and “Blue Jasmine” was written & directed by Woody Allen. So…I’m going to go with my original first choice…Amy Adams wins for “American Hustle.” She is ultimately the absolute best in a role that I don’t think anyone else could have taken and made it what she did. Her performance is, quite frankly, the heartbeat of the movie and she deserves it!

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE: I have to tell ya…Matthew McConaughey has had a pretty good year. And he’s nominated for “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” So…I can see where he might end up taking this one. But I haven’t seen this film (but I DID see “Mud” and he was excellent in it!) so I can’t say if he should win or not. I also have not seen “Nebraska” and I hear Bruce Dern is extremely good and has also been a noted high-tier actor in Hollywood for years. So HE could also be in the running. But for MY money, of the 3 actors that I HAVE seen this year, Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf Of Wall Street” is probably the best. He is almost gleeful in the way he takes this reprehensible character and gives him life. Plus…we all know Hollywood loves DiCaprio and would love to see him win his first statue so…there ya go.

BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR: When voting for the best film, I would have to ask myself…”In 15 years, which movie would I WANT to see again?” In this case, it’s an easy answer. For me, there is only one movie that I HAD to see again. It was everything I enjoy about the movies and it was everything I could ask for in a 90 minute package. “Gravity” may not be the most thought provoking film of the past year, but it was definitely the reason I love to go sit in a dark room with strangers, munching on popped corn kernels and drinking soda. It was exhilarating, breathtaking and as entertaining as any film I’ve seen in years. So, despite the fact that there are so many great films in this list of hopefuls, my vote is for “GRAVITY.” I’ve seen it 4 times already and it is, in so many ways, perfect. It’s an A+ in a year full of A’s…and so it gets MY vote as the best of 2013!

2013 Summer Releases: Yes Or No

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The flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and my Summer Movie Preview edition of Entertainment Weekly has arrived in the mail. Looking ahead at what could be a very entertaining summer, I’m picking 5 movies I am TOTALLY looking forward to and 5 movies that I will probably suck.

YES!

1. Man Of Steel (June 14)
It’s another reboot of a franchise that has been lagging. Despite the fact that we were tortured with a remake in 2006 that failed to spark any audience and was considered a flop, DC Comics hasn’t given up on its tentpole character and apparently this may be the beginning of a future “Justice League.” film. After watching the trailers that have been coming out since last winter and with Zack Snyder directing this time, this has potential to be HUGE! Oh yeah…and the guy who wrote the latest Batman films is in on the action also (Christopher Nolan), so Supes has THAT going for him as well.

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2. Iron Man 3 (May 3)
I can’t deny…I am a SUCKER for all the super hero films and Robert Downey’s take on Iron Man is dead on. He IS Tony Stark and in the 2 previous IM films and last summer’s “The Avengers,” he is exactly what I see whenever I think of Marvel’s drawn character. Throw in a super badass bad guy, Ben Kingley’s “The Mandarin,” and what looks like an army of Iron Men and this movie looks like prime popcorn and soda material!

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3. Elysium (August 9)
Matt Damon & Jodi Foster team up with “District 9” director, Neill Blomkamp, to do a science fiction movie about the have’s and the have-not’s. Setting it far into the future, our world is split between the super rich & the super poor. The rich live on Elysium. The poor live on Earth. And when everyman Damon finds that he is irradiated, he decides to break into Elysium to find a cure for himself. Expect lots of action and plenty of thought-provoking modern day comparisons in this one.

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4. This Is The End (June 12)
A movie about movie stars playing themselves at a party at the end of the world? That’s the premise and I’m all in! Stars Seth Rogan, James Franco, Emma Watson and a cast of thousands! Ok…maybe not thousands…but it sounded good. And the trailer looks “SWEET!”

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5. The Great Gatsby (May 10)
This one could go either way. The trailer looks awesome and the cast is top notch (Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire), but there is something about so much green screen work that worries me. We all know the story about Jay Gatsby (considering the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald has been made into film 5 times prior) so you have to wonder if the guy who brought us the stylized remake of Romeo & Juliet can break it down in a new way. If it’s HALF as good as the trailer…I say yes. Either way, it looks like a MUST-SEE on the big screen!

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UM…NO.

1. R.I.P.D. (July 19)
It looks like a poor man’s remake of “Men In Black” with the 2 heroes being dead instead of alien chasers. A horrible premise is made even MORE horrible by the trailer with Jeff Bridges playing the crusty, old-timer part instead of Tommy Lee Jones and Ryan Reynolds as Will Smith. I say avoid this one like the plague.

2. The Lone Ranger (July 3)
Why, Johnny Depp? Why? From the first time I saw who was in this movie I thought…”What is up with that?” Then I saw that Depp was playing Tonto and NOT the masked man and I had to wonder…”What is up with that?” And then after seeing the trailer last winter and again and again since I’ve been wondering…”Why?” This looks like ANOTHER Will Smith movie from 1999 called “Wild, Wild West” which was a complete mess. No way I’m seeing this in the theater…

3. The Heat (June 28)
Sandra Bullock, try as she might, is NOT a comedian. Actually, as much as I WANTED to like her in “Miss Congeniality,” I found her stiff and boring. This movie looks a LOT like that one except you have Melissa McCarthy added as comic relief. I dunno about the whole “women can do comedy” thing (I thought “Bridesmaids” was ok…), but this doesn’t look funny at all. I imagine I’ll watch it when it comes to USA Network sometime next winter.

4. Planes (August 9)
I know my kids will WANT to see it, but I loved “Cars” so much and this looks like Disney is simply taking all of the Cars characters and throwing them into the air…literally. What was once a direct-to-DVD venture, the Mouse House has decided it needs to soak up more of your hard earned cash and so they’re putting this one in theaters. I say avoid it. You have been warned.

5. Fast & Furious 6 (May 24)
Six?!?! They’ve made SIX of these things??? Unbelievable. Vin Deisel could probably retire from making movies with the amount of cash they pay him to look muscled up for this role. Let’s see if I can get you the plot in 2 sentences or less: Bad guys are really good guys and they steal from the rich. Everyone drives fast and there are lots of crashes. Good enough? Yeesh.

MAYBE?

Here are a few flicks I plan on seeing. Dunno if they’re gonna be what I’m expecting but…I’m a sucker for blowing my hard-earned money in the theater air conditioning…

1. Star Trek Into Darkness
C’mon…it’s STAR TREK. The first one was damn good and the cast was dead on. Let’s hope the movie is as exciting as the trailer!

2. The Hangover Part III
The Final Chapter? I hope so. But despite the fact that II sucked, there is something about this that looks funny to me. They’re saying this one is darker. I’ll be the judge of that.

3. World War Z
It’s got zombies and Brad Pitt. What that means is anyone’s guess. It looks like a combo of “I Am Legend” and “28 Days Later.” Let’s hope it’s MORE like “28 Days Later.”

4. Kick Ass 2
I liked the first one and this one has Jim Carrey. So sue me. I’m in!

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