My only reason for posting today is to make sure I don’t wreck my reputation as an aging hipster / femme fatale / nerd / space cadet by letting anyone think that I didn’t post yesterday because I was watching the Superbowl. No, my mother my sister and I went to see The Dallas Buyers Club. My brother-in-law is a big boy and sis informed me that he is quite capable of fetching his own beer. The Dallas Buyers Club is a very wholesome picture about acceptance of difference and coming to understand people who are different from you. If ambiguity and complexity turns you on, this movie may leave you flat.
Ron Woodruff is diagnosed with HIV and given thirty days to live. Due to the stigma associated with AIDS in the eighties, Ron’s friends reject and shun him. “Ron… bereft of government-approved effective medicines, decided to take matters in his own hands, tracking down alternative treatments from all over the world by means both legal and illegal. By passing the establishment, the entrepreneurial Woodroof joined forces with an unlikely band of renegades and outcasts – who he once would have shunned – and established a hugely successful ‘buyers’ club.'”
One of those “renegades and outcasts” is man named Rayon who dresses as a woman. The character is called “he” throughout the film and therefore I’m not sure if I should refer to him as trans. In any case, he has many characteristics traditionally seen as feminine. Perhaps I’ve been thinking of gender issues a little too much in the past few days, but I was watching a segment of “Anatomy of a Scene” on the New York Times website, where the director explains some of the decisions he made during the scene. In it, I couldn’t help noticing that the director, Jean-Marc Vallé, refers to Ron and Rayon as the “leads.” It occurred to me that, although Ron and Rayon have no sexual contact, that many of their interactions are similar to the dynamic that might be found between the male and female lead in a romantic comedy.
A few months ago, I watched How to Survive a Plague with my mother. It might be a very good movie to watch in conjunction with this one. Although we get glimpses of the larger societal impact of the AIDS epidemic, they remain only glimpses. The Dallas Buyers Club is at heart a human drama of redemption. Without ever quite losing his skanky quality, Ron becomes a better person, still pretty flawed, but undeniably better. How to Survive a Plague is a documentary that gives more information about the backdrop against which The Dallas Buyers Club takes place.
Another movie that I think is worth seeing is a 2005 movie also by Jean-Marc Vallé, C.R.A.Z.Y. It’s a Canadian movie in French. Apparently, that movie was nearly made in the U.S., but the actor who would play the father, Michel Côté, said to Vallé,
‘I’m going to kill you if you go to the States to make this film in English. Man, this is a story for us. It’s our story. And we’ve got to fucking make it in French.’ He said, ‘I’m going to help you. We’re going to make this in French. In Quebec.’
It’s a coming of age story.