Film Friday #168

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

When homophobic cowboy, Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is diagnosed with HIV in 1985 he is given thirty days to live. Initially he sticks with his usual lifestyle of drink, drugs and women but when the reality of his health starts to catch-up he returns to hospital in the hope of receiving treatment however at this early stage of the disease the only thing on offer is an experimental drug called AZT and Ron doesn’t qualify for the trial. Eventually he heads to Mexico to consult with a doctor there who provides him with an array of non-FDA approved supplements… and Ron starts to feel better. With the help of an also HIV positive trans woman, named Rayon (Jared Leto), Ron sets up a membership club where other suffers can get all the supplements they want, as long as they pay the monthly fee, as a way to get around being charged with dealing drugs. Initially Ron sees this as a great way to make a quick buck but as he learns more about the toxicity of AZT and the FDA begins to crack down it starts to become a matter of life and death and Ron might just have to learn to love someone other than himself. With this performance McConaughey cements the path he has been traveling as a serious dramatic actor, giving a performance that is committed, heartfelt and deeply touching. Leto is exceptional alongside him disappearing into the sensitive but damaged, Rayon, with Jennifer Garner providing added support as a doctor at the forefront of the burgeoning fight against AIDS. At the heart of this film is not only the story of a man fighting for his life but the frightening influence the American pharmaceutical industry has over the FDA and both are totally compelling. Oscars all around! 4/5

Ron hoped that if he just ignored her the the crazy leopard lady would go away

Ron hoped that if he just ignored her the the crazy leopard lady would go away

Out of the Furnace (2013)

In the Rust Belt of Pennsylvania Russell Baze (Christian Bale) works in the steel mill and spends his time torn between deciding to start a family with his girlfriend, Lena (Zoe Saldana) and bailing his soldier brother, Rodney (Casey Affleck) out of his gambling debts. After a terrible accident occurs Russell ends up in prison, returning to discover that Lena has taken up with the local sheriff (Forrest Whitaker) and Rodney is back from Iraq, fighting in illegal boxing matches to repay his debts to local small time crime lord, John Petty (Willem Dafoe). As Russell tries to piece his life together, Rodney begs Petty to get him a fight against some Appalachian hillbillies in a bare knuckle boxing racket run by the frankly terrifying Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson). Things don’t go terribly well during the fight and the unthinkable happens leaving Russell forced to decide between trusting in the law and taking justice into his own hands. The trailer for this film really sold it to me but the reality just did not measure up. While Out of the Furnace gives a haunting portrayal of the hopelessness of large parts of recession America, I struggled to really understand the point of this film or what the ending really meant. There are good performances, most notably from Casey Affleck, who is without doubt the more talented Affleck brother, but they struggle to rise above the plodding pace and the stripped back script. I also couldn’t help but feel like DeGroat was an oversimplified caricature of an antagonist where for the most part the remaining characters were quite nuanced. It just did not live up to its potential.  2.5/5

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Rodney may have gone down (down) in an earlier round, but sugar he was going down swinging

RoboCop (1987)

In the future Detroit is riddled with crime and the police force is struggling to cope… which is getting in the way of Dick Jones’ (Ronny Cox) corporation and its plans to rebuild it. When a local cop, Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is fatally injured in a shootout with Clarence Boddicker’s (Kurtwood Smith) gang, Jones seizes the opportunity to turn what’s left of Murphy into the ultimate cyborg soldier. Soon RoboCop is cleaning up the streets at an unprecedented rate but after a run in with Boddicker he starts to remember his past life as Murphy and turns rogue uncovering a sinister connection between Jones and Boddicker. I can imagine that RoboCop was awesome when it came out but it suffers from a bit of 80’s-itis – undeveloped characters, OTT violence and a rambling storyline along with some special effects that haven’t aged well. On the other hand Kurtwood Smith (AKA Red Foreman) makes an outstandingly unsettling bad guy and the make-up effects on RoboCop are kind of amazing. Ultimately the original RoboCop is a lot of fun but I’m not sure if it actually deserves its cult status. 2.5/5

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I feel pretty and witty… and rusty!

Safe Haven (2013)

Safe Haven starts with a young woman (Julianne Hough) hurriedly running away from the police and heading for the small town of Southport in North Carolina. Here she names herself Katie, sets up home in a remote cabin, finds a job in a coffee shop and starts dating a hunky widower (Josh Duhamel) with two young children. But as more of “Katie’s” back story starts to unfold through flashbacks we start to wonder if she is actually a killer or a victim and if she’ll ever be able to leave her past behind. Oh god this was boring… I was kind of hoping Katie would turn out to be a psycho just to give the story some kind of oomph. Anyway, my general taste for generic Hollywood romance aside this film is almost bearable, despite being tedious… until the ending which is so ludicrous that it destroys any credibility that it might have built up. Vom. 1/5

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I promise my boobs are not bigger than yours. Now keep swimming!

16 Comments

  1. Full marks for Dallas Buyers Club, amazing movie. I didn’t mind Out of The Furnace too much. I can’t remember what I scored it though

    1. Abbi

      Thanks! Really enjoyed Dallas Buyers Club. I found Woodroof’s transformation really gripping. I really wanted to like Out of the Furnace but it really just fell flat for me.

    2. Abbi

      I also appear to have used the word really four times in one comment. I’m blaming my REALLY big hangover.

      1. That’s a REALLY good excuse. Like REALLY!

  2. The ending to Safe Haven is truly rancid. Not that the flick was good before it, but that ending . . . wow. Rancid.

    Agreed, in general, on all of your commentary here.

    1. Abbi

      I know. It’s just completely unnecessary. I could imagine it working as the kind of bland chick flick that appeals to the brain dead horde but the ending destroys even that chance.

  3. Great post and picks. You know how I felt about DBC. Loved the ‘Vom’ at the end of Safe Haven, haha!

    1. Abbi

      It really did make me do a little sick in my mouth!

  4. Nice reviews. : ) I’ve seen none! Hoping to see Dallas Buyers Club this week – looking forward to that one. I’ll skip the rest. Hubby wants to go to Robocop, though – but I may make him go without me.

    1. Abbi

      DBC is definitely worth watching. We’re going to the new RoboCop tomorrow. It’s not really my thing but I’m just going with it.

      1. Oh yeah – had new Robocop on my mind. I HAVE seen the original but… I dunno. It was okay. Not sure why it’s so loved. Know I should watch it again if hubby DOES drag me to the new one!

  5. Looking forward to watching Dallas Buyers Club. I was absolutely thrilled to hear that Jared Leto was returning to acting after such a long break, he’s so amazing, and under-rated. And to have him return like this, in a role that’s winning him all sorts of awards, well all I can say is it’s about time. I met him this summer (for all of 2 seconds) after the 30 Seconds to Mars show in Montreal. I never stick around after a show to meet the band, but I did this time. Had all three of them sign my CD. Was pretty cool.

    1. Abbi

      I absolutely agree that Leto is underrated. He’s had some amazing roles and when he turns it on he’s impressive. However I have to admit that I’m not much of a 30 Seconds to Mars fan… to this day still the only gig I’ve ever walked out of…

  6. Some fine work here Abbi. You know my thoughts on Dallas Buyers Club already but even though Out of The Furnace doesn’t seem to score highly with folk, I still quite fancy it.

    1. Abbi

      I think there are things to enjoy in Out of the Furnace, particularly Casey Affleck’s performance. It’s not a bad film per say it just seems like the whole is less than the sum of its parts, which is disappointing.

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