FILM: “Dallas Buyers Club”

November 26th, 2013, 1:00 pm by Greg

Review by Pete Mason

The AIDS movement in 2013 is far different than the emerging movement in the 1980s, the setting for “Dallas Buyers Club,” the true story of how Ron Woodroof got life-saving medicine to those afflicted with AIDS when there were no viable treatments on the market. Now, deaths from AIDS are rarer and do not pepper the news with stories on the tragedy surrounding what was once called a “gay plague.” But in the ’80s, few knew what this new disease was, and a cure seemed impossible. Today, we are nearer to curing AIDS and have found combinations of medicine and vitamins that were unimaginable 20 years ago. “Dallas Buyers Club” tells the tale of an era that few knew existed and would shock many when confronted with the stigma and homophobia of the ’80s.

Matthew McConaughy plays the hero, Ron Woodroof, a homophobic Texas cowboy/electrician, a womanizer and gambler who drinks, drugs and deals his way through life in 1985. An accident at work sends him to the hospital where Dr. Sevard (Denis O’Hare) and Dr. Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner) inform him he has HIV and a T-cell count of only nine, and that he has only 30 days to live. This is so early in the AIDS crisis that 30 days was a best estimate, while Ron would end up living until 1992. Ron takes the next few weeks to find out all he can about AIDS, seeing doctors and learning what remedies might exist for him.

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FILM: “Dallas Buyers Club,” Controversial, Oscar-Worthy Film Stars Matthew McConaughey [Berkshire on Stage]

November 22nd, 2013, 12:00 pm by Sara

Film Review by Larry Murray

Dallas Buyers Club opens in theaters today.

It is a must-see.

In the early days of the AIDS crisis perhaps the only person angrier and more motivated than Larry Kramer of AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) was the super macho, homophobic rodeo bull rider, con man, womanizer and substance abuser Ron Woodroof. The film Dallas Buyers Club has been criticized for not focusing on the gay elements, but that is because it is inspired by true events surrounding Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) and his battle with the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies after being diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1986. He finds the AZT trials flawed, gets his own supply from Mexico and then overdoses on the toxic drug. He decides it is not the only answer, and in fact, not even a good one. (Back then they gave patients far too much of the stuff, actually destroying their immune system, rather than helping it.)

He then begins his search for alternative treatments. At first wary and contemptuous of anyone gay he refuses to attend self-help groups that proliferated in the early days of the disease. Eventually he teams up with a transvestite, Nylon (Jared Leto). Together they figured out a way to provide HIV-positive people the drugs that were illegal in the US. These were the terrible days of an FDA under Ronald Reagan and a AWOL medical-pharmaceutical cartel. Everyone seemed to drag their feet on allowing drugs proved hopeful elsewhere to be sold here.

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