Dallas Buyers Club - Ron Woodroof’s powerful true story provides the influence for Dallas Buyers Club, a biographical drama directed by Jean Marc Vallee (C.R.A.Z.Y, The Young Victoria and Café De Flore) and written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack. The story begins in 1985 as we are introduced to Woodroof (portrayed by Matthew McConaughey), an electrician, who spends his evenings as a rodeo cowboy and small time hustler. After receiving treatment for a work injury he learns that he has contracted HIV, and given just 30 days to live. Ostracized by his friends and colleagues, Woodroof initially refuses to accept the news, but then begins to suffer alone and dedicate his precious time to researching treatments. Dr Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner) informs Woodroof that they are currently trialing an antiviral called AZT, the only drug approved for testing on humans by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). After meeting a doctor, Vass (Griffin Dunne), in Mexico Woodroof starts up a business with the help of Rayon (Jared Leto), a HIV-positive transgender woman, in bringing Vass’ prescribed (but unapproved) treatments into the U.S.A for distribution in protest against the unproven AZT. McConaughey is absolutely brilliant here. I don’t have a bad word to say about his portrayal, only that the portrayal written for him is problematic. This film is only remotely memorable because of McConaughey’s commitment. The film itself, while telling a story worth telling, was surprisingly average, considering the potential of the story and Vallee’s lauded chops as a director. In addition to the very poor pacing, I felt like Dallas Buyers Club altogether lacked cinematic qualities (the drama flatlines, and any built is wrung of any effect) and succumbs to a pretty predictable outcome. ★★1/2
Blue is the Warmest Color - Centers on 15-year-old Adèle (Adele Exarchopoulos) who is climbing to adulthood and dreams of experiencing her first love. A handsome male classmate falls for her hard, but an unsettling erotic reverie upsets the romance before it begins. Adèle imagines that the mysterious, blue-haired girl she encountered in the street slips into her bed and possesses her with an overwhelming pleasure. That blue-haired girl is a confident older art student named Emma (Lea Seydoux), who will soon enter Adèle's life for real, making way for an intense and complicated love story that spans a decade and is touchingly universal in its depiction. Provocative, thoroughly absorbing, shockingly intense and ultimately deeply affecting, this is a raw and punishing examination of a young woman's emotional journey through the uncertainties of sexuality exploration and the transition into adulthood. Covering every realm of the emotional spectrum - confusion, anxiety, intrigue, pleasure, anger, sadness - we follow (and observe) Adele as she navigates her feelings of angst, experiences the ecstasy of sexual connection and the joy and heartbreak that accompanies falling in (and out) of love for the first time. This is a film sure to linger with a viewer, whether you connect with the characters or approve of the indulgent filmmaking or not. ★★★★1/2
Are We Officially Dating? [or 'That Awkward Moment' in the US] - Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan star in this R-rated comedy about three best friends who find themselves where we've all been - at that confusing "moment" in every dating relationship when you have to decide "So...where is this going?" Review by Sam McCosh, An Online Universe.
Endless Love - Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike) and Gabriella Wilde (The Three Musketeers) star in Universal Pictures' Endless Love, the story of a privileged girl and a charismatic boy whose instant desire sparks a love affair made only more reckless by parents trying to keep them apart. Directed by Shana Feste (Country Strong), the romantic drama co-stars Robert Patrick, Bruce Greenwood, Rhys Wakefield, Dayo Okeniyi, Emma Rigby and Joely Richardson.
Winter's Tale - Set in a mythic New York City and spanning more than a century, "Winter's Tale" is a story of miracles, crossed destinies, and the age-old battle between good and evil. The film stars Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Eva Marie Saint and Russell Crowe. The film marks the directorial debut of Academy Award-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind), who also wrote the screenplay, based on the acclaimed novel by Mark Helprin.
Weekly Recommendation - In the annual Valentine's Day week of releases there isn't much hope. I have seen just two of these - Dallas Buyers Club and Blue is the Warmest Color. The latter, the winner of the Cannes Palme d'Or is an incredible film, the former a problematic and altogether average one, save for the fine performances. I'm sure the other three will provide entertaining escapism for the romantics, but I urge you to seek out Blue if you're over 18. It is screening at Newtown.