Snapshots - #37: It, Breathe, Mark Felt – The Man Who Brought Down the White House

It (2017), (♦♦♦♦): Four inseparable friends in middle school bond with other three newcomers. They all have in common that they are bullied by the same people. Over the course of one summer they'll fend off bullies and face a centuries-old demon in the form of a clown, named Pennywise, whom has been disappearing kids and terrorizing the town of Derry, Maine, every twenty-seven years since the town was founded.
Based on Stephen King's novel of the same title, It is a movie with a smart script and a sympathetic ensemble of nerds that deliver light humor, and deep thrills. It doesn't hurt that each and every character has his or her own arc, thus one gets to know their motivations and fears before Pennywise enters head on into the picture.
In a nod to 1980s movie classics such as The Goonies, and the Brat Pack ensemble, the newest adaptation of It takes place at the end of that decade, when it seems, at least from the Hollywood perspective, that every kid harbored a genius insi…

Dallas Buyers Club (♦♦♦)

Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is a bisexual man, addicted to drugs, who gets infected with the HIV virus and develops AIDS when the epidemic was starting. After receiving a grim diagnosis—thirty days at most to live-- Ron educates himself about the disease, its prognosis, and treatments available.

Ron has amassed some serious cash by way of gambling, so he decides to buy his way into a clinical study for AZT. When his supplier dries up, Ron is given the name of a doctor in Mexico who supposedly can help him. With no other choice, Ron travels to Mexico where he is treated by said doctor with a cocktail of vitamins and proteins to strengthen his immune system. After a few months, Ron is still alive and ready to bring the business back to the States where these drugs aren’t approved by the FDA.

With the help of fake identities, Ron Woodroof imports alternative medicines used for treatment of AIDS in other countries; drugs not approved by the FDA, which render their import with commercial purpose illegal. Ron founds a monthly membership club to sell those alternative treatments to AIDS patients to palliate symptoms, which haven’t been addressed by AZT.

As the business grows so does its reputation and the harassment of government entities like the FDA and the IRS, intent on dismantling the business one way or another. Finally, Ron brings his case to court where he loses but makes a statement nonetheless.

Dallas Buyers Club has grit, and a dry, dark humor that makes the movie more palatable given its topic. There’s sweetness in this movie by means of the friendship-business partnership that Ron develops with Rayon (Jared Leto), but this movie doesn’t have the gravitas that Philadelphia had in its time.

In common with Philadelphia, however, are the magnificent performances of McConaughey and Leto in their roles--as Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington’s were in their time. Thanks to them, Dallas Buyers Club doesn’t devolve into standard melodrama; in other words, their performances make the movie. McConaughey suffered a remarkable physical transformation for this role and it does pay off because it gives credibility to his plight.

Also noteworthy in her role is Jennifer Garner as doctor Eve Saks, possibly the best performance I’ve ever seen from her and quite a departure from her overly sweet roles.

Dallas Buyers Club has a positive message amidst its grim topic. As McConaughey said in his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes for Best Actor, “this movie was never about dying". It’s true, the movie documents the refusal of a man to die taking an untested drug. In his quest, he gave hope to other patients ailing with AIDS.