Hello, dear readers! This post is long overdue, and I’m so sorry for letting the busyness of life get in the way of the joy of blogging. I hope all is well in your world.
I am so excited! It’s official! The nominees have been announced, and the countdown to Oscar has begun! If you haven’t checked out the full list of nominees yet, click here. For any of you planning Oscar night festivities, there is a printable version of the ballot on this site if you want to print copies for your guests. But more on Oscar Party-Planning in a later post. 😉 Did I mention EXCITED?! 😀
As we get closer to the Oscars, I plan to post about the nominated movies I’ve had the chance to see. The nominees for Best Picture this year are American Hustle, Philomena, Captain Phillips, Nebraska, Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Her. In perusing the list, it looks like I have only gotten to see 3 of the nominated movies so far, which is incredibly sad for a die-hard movie lover, but hopefully since a few of these movies are still in theatres and a few are out on DVD/BluRay, I can get that number a little higher before the big night. I will definitely be posting my thoughts on them if I do!
The movie I wanted to start with is one that I had been anticipating for a while and, fittingly, took a road trip to Dallas with one of my besties (Hi, Lori! *waves*) to see as soon as it came out: Dallas Buyers Club. As a fan and admirer of Jared Leto — the actor, the director, and the frontman for 30 Seconds To Mars (big shoutout and MARShugs to my Echelon family!!!) — when he announced on Twitter that he was returning to film acting after a 6 year absence, I could not have been more excited! All I can say is, it was worth the roadtrip. Every actor in this film brings their A-game and beyond: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner. All bring a beautiful depth and humanity to each of their performances. Certainly for Matthew and Jared, these are career-defining roles in the best possible sense.
This film is inspired by the true story of Ron Woodroof, a bull-riding, cowboy hustler from Dallas, Texas, who was diagnosed with AIDS and given 30 days to live. Refusing to accept his death sentence, he goes on a mission to gain access to drugs that can treat the disease and prolong his life. In the process, he befriends and becomes business partners with Rayon, a beautiful transgendered woman who also has AIDS, and together, by smuggling in medication and forming the “Dallas Buyers Club”, they bring hope to a community of people fighting for their lives. Here is the official trailer if you haven’t seen it.
There are so many things that I loved about this film, and there is no way I could list them all. Here are just a few things that I took away from it. (This post is light on spoilers, but if you don’t want to know anything, you may want to stop reading here. I understand…..but come please back once you’ve seen it!! 😉 )
1) We are all more than the worst parts of ourselves. Ron epitomizes the idea of hard-living with his excess of drinking, drugs, and womanizing, and in the beginning, he is racist and homophobic. At times he is a difficult man to like. However, Ron’s diagnosis forces him to see the world and people in a new way, and in time his prejudices are replaced with genuine friendship and love. In the end he becomes a champion for those suffering with AIDS. Ron Woodroof is an unlikely hero who could have wound up as a tragic cliche, but who becomes an inspiring reminder that no one is a lost cause. There is always hope that we can change and become better versions of ourselves.
2) A touch of grace changes people. There is a lot of heart in this film. Jennifer Garner’s character, Dr. Eve Saks, is a doctor helping to run an experimental drug program for AIDS patients. She is strong and smart and does the best she can for patients she cares deeply for, working within a system that can at times be difficult and indifferent. Her gentleness and compassion have a positive effect on Ron as their friendship grows and she becomes an ally to his cause. Arguably the most moving role, and certainly the most transformative relationship of the film however, is Rayon, played by Jared Leto. Rayon is luminous and sassy and fun and full of life. She doesn’t let Ron get away with his homophobic attitudes, but she doesn’t shy away from forming a friendship and eventually partnership with him, and their relationship becomes, to me, the most beautiful and powerful of the film. The whole time I was watching this character, the word ‘grace” kept coming to mind because I feel like she truly embodied it. She extended grace to a man who did not deserve it, and in so doing paved the way for bettering the lives of an entire community. We can never underestimate the power of grace and love to change us and the people around us. I came away hoping I could live with as much grace as Rayon did.
(As an aside, Jared’s transformation into this character is truly amazing, and if you would like to see how he did it, click here.)
3) One person really CAN make a difference. The world is not as it should be, and it’s easy to give in to a feeling of despair or helplessness. But sometimes all it takes is one person to lead, to inspire, to motivate, to believe. Ron started out just looking to help himself but wound up saving countless others. Don’t be afraid to start small. You just don’t know what the ripple effect could be. What are you passionate about? What do you see that’s wrong in the world that you want to help change? Do some research on whatever it is because odds are there are others out there who care about it too and see how you can involved. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
4) The fight goes on. According to a 2012 Huffington Post article, “HIV/AIDS By The Numbers”, 34.2 million people are living with HIV worldwide, with 23.5 million of that number located in Sub-Saharan Africa. But thanks to education and anti-retroviral drugs becoming more widely available, we are making strides to prevent transmission and to extend and improve the quality of life for those living with this disease. An AIDS-free generation IS possible. To find out more about what you can do to help, check out organizations like UNICEF, The Global Fund, and visit Product (RED) to find out about how some of your everyday purchases can help in the fight against AIDS. For any fellow music lovers out there, you should know that proceeds from the purchase of the Dallas Buyers Club soundtrack go to The Global Fund. Also, this weekend at the Super Bowl, U2 will be unveiling a new song called “Invisible” (SO EXCITED!!!). The song will be available to download for free on iTunes Feb. 2nd & 3rd for 24Hrs, and for every download, Bank of America will donate $1 to The Global Fund. Much gratitude to the Super Bowl for allowing time to promote such an important cause.
These are just a few of the things that I loved about this film, that challenged me and made me think. It is heartbreaking and tragic, inspiring and deeply emotional. And completely deserving of all the awards it has received. If you do see the film, I would love to hear your thoughts too!
“This film was never about dyin’, it was always about livin’, and with that I say, ‘just keep’.” – Matthew McConaughey, Golden Globes Best Actor in a Leading Role Acceptance Speech 2014