We've been waiting for this one. Jean-Marc Vallée's biodrama about rebel cowboy Ron Woodroff who started an illegal drug ring for AIDS victims in the 80s has long had Oscar buzz for the emaciated slip of what was once Matthew McConaughey but now we can put the buzz to the test with the trailer. Let's break it down into Yes No Maybe So categories. As we do. All right All right.
The cast first. At the very least one feels that a ticket purchase for this movie might help Matthew McConaughey on his road to recovery. He's been pushing himself with such commitment into the actor everyone wanted him to be right after A Time to Kill but which he never became until now. We owe him a thank you meal! Jared Leto looks amazing in his brief snippets as Ron's liaison with the gay community who were hit the hardest by the plague in the 80s. It's nice to see Jennifer Garner loosed from Ben Affleck's arm for a couple of hours.
Newsflash for y'all. There aint nothing that can kill Ron Woodroff in 30 days."
The story sure looks compelling in this well cut trailer. There's lots of room for McConaughey to show off and as an actor, that's kind of what he does best, right? That moment where Matthew as Ron falls to the ground and the moment when he cries look gut wrenching in the good way.
Plus C.R.A.Z.Y., Canada's Oscar submission in 2005, showed that Jean Marc Vallée was a director capable of harnessing great chaotic rock n roll energy into compelling personal journey cinema
The Young Victoria, which won Oscar nominations in 2009, suggests that Jean Marc Vallée gets a little duller when he's aiming for the prestige market with personal journey cinema. (But then, who doesn't?)
An unfair "No" aside: No matter how great the true story is, I don't particularly relish yet another civil rights struggle story being coopted to honor yet another brave white straight person. Yes, I know it's a medical drama / biographical film rather than a gay drama but given the way AIDS spread into an epidemic due to governments ignoring it during its infancy as a minority problem, a "gay cancer" as they put it, the topic will be inextricably linked to the gay struggle in history. I have reason to believe this will eventually change given that we've seen a few historical dramas recently which were told from the point of the view of the minority (The Help, mostly, and The Butler and Milk) but for the first century of film this was largely not the case and we always had to look at history and breakthrough triumphs for minorities through a heteronormative white prism.
In all the descriptions of the story, Ron Woodroff is described as a homophobe and there is room to explore this in an interesting way without cheaply praising him, as some movies do with their jerk heroes for making baby steps towards being a better person (Philadelphia arguably had problems with this with the Denzel character). Let's hope Jared Leto and his film friends are portrayed in a well rounded human way and that the "you sayin' I'm a homo!?" element and conflict is handled with surgical precision and not implicitly endorsed as
Are you a Yes No Maybe So ??? Let's take that question three times
1. On the movie?
2. On its Oscar chances?
3. On crazy weight loss/gain as shortcuts to acting glory? (i.e. should movie stars really risk their health this way when visual effects have come so far?)