Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Promo poster
Promo poster

Matthew McConaughey (transformed physically) disappears into his role of real-life ’80s AIDS crusader, Ron Woodruff.  This film was made with a very small budget, and directed by a French-Canadian, Jean-Marc Vallee (The Young Victoria).  I never heard of this story until my friends and I went to see it (just before the holidays)! 

Ron (McConaughy) can't believe his diagnosis
Ron (McConaughy) can’t believe his diagnosis

Ain’t nuthin’ out there can kill Ron Woodruff in 30 days! 

Ron is an electrician by trade, but (part-time) bull riding is his real love.  Drinking and hooking up with random women (many of whom follow the rodeo) is also part of his dangerous lifestyle.  When Ron gets injured at a jobsite, he’s taken to the local hospital.  The attending doctor (matter-of-factly) tells him that he has HIV and only 30 days to live.  Yes, it’s a very serious/heavy film!   

Ron is initially very angry and in denial that he would have a disease that only gay men have.  Upon quick reflection, he comes to the realization that the diagnosis is probably true. (He’s no dummy!)  Ron starts reading up on HIV/AIDS, which (at that time) seems to be most effectively treated by AZT,  which was only in clinical trials. 

Rayon (Jared Leto) becomes Ron's (unlikely) friend
Rayon (Jared Leto) becomes Ron’s (unlikely) friend

Ron can’t get into the clinical trials, he learns from a sympathetic doctor, Eve (Jennifer Garner), a woman he mistakes for a nurse.  So, he goes searching for meds on his own.  Ron goes to a doctor in Mexico.  He even flies to Japan to meet with a bigwig in the drug industry.  In time, Ron forms an alliance with Rayon (Jared Leto), a transvestite who is on and off the wagon (struggling with heroine addiction).  Rayon is in the clinical trial, and also shares a childhood connection with Eve.  In one of the film’s most revealing scenes, Rayon puts on a suit to settle monetary concerns with a banker (also his father).   

Eve (Garner) also becomes an ally to Ron
Eve (Garner) also becomes an ally to Ron

This film is educational, not merely entertainment.  It was a big labor of love for all involved, including Brad Pittt and Ryan Gosling.  Check it out before the Oscars! 

The Killers (1946) starring Burt Lancaster & Ava Gardner

The Swede (Burt Lancaster) falls head over heels for Kitty (Ava Gardner)
The Swede (Burt Lancaster) falls head over heels for Kitty (Ava Gardner)

This film noir is based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway.  It was Burt Lancaster’s first film role (at age 32).  I thought he looked/acted much younger.  There is that openness and vulnerability in his eyes that fans will recognize.  Even battered and bruised, he has potential.  Lancaster plays Ole Andresen (known to most as “The Swede”), a quiet gas station attendant in Brentwood, New Jersey.  

Jim Riordan (Edmond O'Brien) investigates the why of the murder
Jim Riordan (Edmond O’Brien) investigates the why of the murder

We learn that there’s much more to The Swede than meets the eye, thanks to an insurance investigator, Jim Riordan (played by noted character actor Edmond O’Brien).  He later went on to play Big Daddy in The Long Hot Summer (starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward).  The movie gains momentum after a murder by two strangers to the small town.  Riordan comes to deal with the $2,500 insurance policy left behind by the deceased.   He eventually teams up with one of Ole’s oldest friends from Philly, Lt. Sam Lubinsky, to get to the crux of the matter.  The femme fatale of the story is Kitty Collins (Ava Gardner), the girlfriend of a well-known hood in Atlantic City.   

Kitty (Gardner) is the catayst in this tale.
Kitty (Gardner) is the catayst in this tale.

Most people seem to think I’m the kind of guy who shaves with a blowtorch. Actually I’m bookish and worrisome.  –Burt Lancaster

If you liked this movie, you’ll love Out of the Past (1947), starring Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, and Jane Greer.  BOTH Mitchum and Lancaster were able to show the masculine man’s sensitive side.  But maybe Mitchum had a BIT more danger and unpredictability?  They’re both fabulous actors who used their presence and physicality to enhance their roles (think Denzel Washington).  After all, it takes more than height and looks to make a leading man! 

Olympic Figure Skating Times

Thursday: Team event, men’s and pairs’ short programs. TV: 8-11 p.m., NBC (delayed). 

*NOTE: The team event is a new one at these Olympics. 
Saturday: Team event, ice dance short dance, ladies’ short program, pairs’ free skate. TV: 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network; 8-11:30 p.m., NBC (delayed). 
 
Feb. 9: Team event, men’s and ladies’ free skate, ice dance free dance. TV: 10 a.m.-1 p.m., NBC Sports Network; 7-11 p.m., NBC (delayed). 
 
Feb. 11: Pairs’ short program. TV : 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network; 8-11:30 p.m., NBC (delayed). 
 
Feb. 12: Pairs’ free skate. TV: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., NBC Sports Network; 8-11:30 p.m., NBC (delayed). 
 
Feb. 13: Men’s short program. TV: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., NBC Sports Network; 8-11:30 p.m., NBC (delayed). 
 
Feb. 14: Men’s free skate. TV: 10 a.m.-2:15 p.m., NBC Sports Network; 8-11:30 p.m., NBC (delayed). 
 
Feb. 16: Ice dance short dance. TV: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., NBC Sports Network; 7-11 p.m. and 11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m., NBC (delayed). 
 
Feb. 17: Ice dance free dance. TV: 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network; 8-11:30 p.m. and 1-2 a.m., NBC (delayed).
 
Feb. 19: Ladies’ short program. TV: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., NBC Sports Network; 8-11:30 p.m., NBC (delayed). 
 
Feb. 20: Ladies’ free skate. TV: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., NBC Sports Network; 8-11:30 p.m., NBC (delayed).