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Dallas Buyers Club (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 25, 2014 by  



dallasbuyersclub

“Dallas Buyers Club” is a fantastic film that features magnificent performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto and while short on special features, this Blu-ray is definitely recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dallas Buyers Club

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2013

DURATION: 117 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 Aspect Ratio, English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: R (For pervasive language, some strong sexual content, nudity and drug use)

Release Date: February 4, 2014

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

Screenplay by Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack

Produced by Robbie Brenner, Rachel Winter

Executive Producer: David L. Bushell, Nicolas Chartier, Cassian Elwes, Zev Foreman, Logan Levy, Joe Newcomb, Tony Notargiacomo, Nathan Ross, Holly Wiersma

Co-Producer: Parry Creedon, Michael Sledd

Post-Production Producer: Dominique Seguin

Cinematography by Yves Belanger

Edited by Martin Pensa, Jean-Marc Vallée

Production Design by John Paino

Casting by Kerry Barden, Rich Delia, Paul Schnee

Production Design by John Paino

Art Direction by Javiera Varas

Set Decoration by Robert Covelman

Costume Design by Kurt and Bart

Starring:

Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof

Jennifer Garner as Eve

Jared Leto as Rayon

Denis O’Hare as Dr. Sevard

Steve Zahn as Tucker

Michael O’Neill as Richard Barkley

Dallas roberts as David Wayne

Griffin Dunne as Dr. Vass

Kevin Rankin as T.J.

Donna Duplantier as Nurse Frazin

Matthew McConaughey gives the performance of his career in this uplifting and powerful film inspired by true events. Texas cowboy Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) sees his free-wheeling life overturned when he’s diagnosed as HIV-positive and given 30 days to live. Determined to survive, Woodroof decides to take matters in his own hands by tracking down alternative treatments from all over the world by means both legal and illegal. After finding an unlikely ally in Rayon (Jared Leto), he establishes a hugely successful “buyers’ club” and unites a band of outcasts in a struggle for dignity and acceptance that inspires in ways no one could have imagined. Co-starring Jennifer Garner, Dallas Buyers Club is “deeply moving. A livewire of a movie!” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)

“Dallas Buyers Club” has been receiving a lot of Academy Award buzz courtesy of the amazing performance by actors Matthew McConaughey (“The Wolf of Wall Street”, “Magic Mike”, “Mud”) and Jared Leto (“Requiem for a Dream”, “Lord of War”, “Mr. Nobody”).

But what is amazing about the film is that it’s an amazing film based on an HIV-positive man named Ron Woodroof, who took matters into his own hands by trying to find medication for those with AIDS in other countries but were not being sold in the US.   Originally, given 30 days to live, by pursuing medication not sold in the U.S. (considered illegal), not only did he extend his life for several years but also tried to help many who were suffering from AIDS during the ’80s.

And the life of Ron Woodroof has been a story which has been in the making for a film adaptation for many years.

Back in Sept. 1992, screenwriter Craig Borten interviewed the real Ron Woodroof with hours of interviews and access to his personal journals.  And by the ’90s, the film would lead to various names directing and also stars set to play Ron Woodroof.  From Brad Pitt to Ryan Gosling, nearly 30 years after Borten’s screenplay (co-written with Melisa Wallack), Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée (“Cafe de Flore”, “The Young Victoria”) was set to direct and actor Matthew McConaughey was set to play Ron Woodroof.

While the film does feature characters that were not part of Ron Woodroof’s real life, the film is an biographical film that would star McConaughey alongside Jennifer Garner (“Alias”, “Juno”, “Elektra”), Jared Leto, Steve Zahn (“Joy Ride”, “Sahara”, “A Perfect Getaway”), Denis O’ Hare (“The Proposal”, “Michael Clayton”, “Milk”) and many more.

The film budgeted at $5 million would go on to make $18 million and receive critical acclaim worldwide and with the Academy Awards around the corner, “Dallas Buyers Club” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in Feb. 2014.

“Dallas Buyers Club” is set in 1985 and we are introduced to electrician and rodeo cowboy Ron Woodroof (portrayed by Matthew McConaughey).  A man who loves having fun with the ladies, loves his alcohol and also homophobic.

He begins coughing a lot and even passing out but he still tries to have fun with the ladies, hanging out with his buddies but one day, after a man is injured at the worksite, Ron is gets shocked and is sent to the hospital.  During tests, Dr. Sevard (portrayed by Denis O’Hare) and Dr. Eve Saks (portrayed by Jennifer Garner), break the news to Ron that they noticed his white cell count is down and that he is HIV positive and he has AIDS.  Also, he has 30-days to live.

Ron doesn’t believe any of it and is very upset because he believes that gay people get AIDS and because he’s straight, there is no way he could get it.  And he walks out and leaves.

But as Ron begins to research AIDS at the library, he then begins to remember when he had a threesome with a woman and also a guy was involved and then he realized, that is where he must of gotten it.

But when he tells one friend that he was diagnosed as HIV positive, it starts to spread and all his friends think he’s a homosexual and refuse to be around him.  Afraid they may get the disease.  So, Ron literally loses all his friends, he loses his job as no one wants to work with him and they try to prevent him from getting access to his home.

When he goes to meet with Dr. Eve Saks about what he can do to get better, she tries to explain to him that they are testing a drug called AZT, an antiviral to prolong the life of AIDS patients and it happens to be the only drug in the United States that is approved by the Food and Drug administration (FDA) for testing on humans.

The problem is that with clinical trials, half the patients receive the drug and the other half are given placebo.

Trying to find a way to get AZT, he tries to make a deal with a hospital employee to steal AZT for him. Meanwhile, he receives a tip about drugs being sold in Mexico for AIDS patients.

But Ron’s way of going about it is downing bottles of it with alcohol and sure enough, he gets sick and doctors want to know where he is getting access to AZT.  Meanwhile, he meets a transgender woman named Rayon (portrayed by Jared Leto) who is HIV positive tries to comfort him but because Ron is homophobic, he doesn’t want to be around Rayon.

As Ron heads to Mexico, he meets Dr. Vass (portrayed by Griffin Dunne), a doctor who had his American medical license revoked and tells Ron that AZT is poisonous and it has killed every cell it came into contact with.  So, he has been prescribing DDC and the protein Peptide T which is not approved in the United States.

After three months of taking the medicine that Dr. Vass has given him, he realizes that he can make this a profitable business by importing the drugs to the United States and selling them to HIV positive patients.  Because the medication is not illegal, he pretends to be a priest and tries to bring them into the country, telling customs that it’s for his personal use, but is warned that if he is caught selling them in the U.S., he will be arrested.

Needing to know where he could sell the medication, he goes to the one person he met that may help him get into the circle in order to sell the medication and that is through Rayon.

Rayon agrees to help Ron, only if he gets a 25% cut and all of a sudden, they become successful by selling $400 memberships and the Dallas Buyers Club is born.

Meanwhile, noticing the negative effects of AZT, which her counterpart, Dr. Sevard continues to back and tells her it cannot be discontinued.  And as “Buyers Clubs” start to pop up all over the United States, the FDA does all it can to prevent Ron and other clubs from selling the unapproved drugs.

VIDEO:

“Dallas Buyers Club” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 widescreen).  Colors are warm and skin tones are natural.  There is good detail when it comes to closeups but also really showcasing the various stages of the characters during their most difficult times.  I didn’t notice any artifacts nor any banding during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dallas Buyers Club” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0.  For this film, the lossless soundtrack is primarily dialogue-driven and is a front and center-channel driven soundtrack. But there are scenes with crowds in which the surround channels are used for ambiance, but for the most part, dialogue is crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ender’s Game” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes – (4:56) Featuring a few deleted scenes.
  • A Look Inside Dallas Buyers Club – (3:57) A brief look at the making of “Dallas Buyers Club”.

EXTRAS:

“Dallas Buyers Club” comes with a Blu-ray and DVD version of the film plus an UltraViolet code for a digital version of the film. Plus a slipcover is included.

For anyone growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, the AIDS crisis was a terrifying time.

What was scene as a disease that infects homosexuals, it wasn’t long after celebrities and athletes coming out to inform people that people can become HIV-positive with sexual contact with someone who has it, blood transfusions and many who had a love one who died from AIDS, will remember how terrifying a time it was, because there was no cure.

During the mid-1980’s, many would hope that AZT would be the drug that would prolong the life of people, but for one man, Ron Woodroof, he was not getting better, the drug was making it worse.

And so, it was his personal crusade to visit doctor’s from all over the country and find unapproved drugs and import them to the US and make money by selling memberships to those who were HIV positive.

“Dallas Buyers Club” introduces us to Ron Woodroof (portrayed by Michael McConaughey), a man who was very sexually active.  Having sex at one of the stalls during a rodeo, having sex wherever he can find it, but also trying to make money by swindling people through bad bets, but also a man who did a lot of drugs and drunk a lot of alcohol.   Ron is also homophobic, making jokes about Rock Hudson, the popular movie actor who kept his homosexual life private and was diagnosed with AIDS.

But after feeling ill and a mishap from work, Ron learns that he is HIV positive and is dying of AIDS.  He has been given around 30 days to live and he desperately tries to find ways to survive, knowing that AZT is only being tested in the U.S., his trip to Mexico leads him to drugs that have done a much better job than the AZT he was taking.  And knowing this will help many others who are HIV positive, he creates a business of selling the drugs at first to the homosexual community, people he had despised.

The film’s efficacy lies in the performance of actor Matthew McConaughey.  We see Ron as a big jerk, but it’s how he grew as a person after being diagnosed with AIDS but also tried to fight the FDA in trying to approve these drugs from other countries that were working for the people who took them.  But the FDA was set on only focusing on AZT at the time.  But McConaughey absolutely transforms himself and gives one of the best performances in his career.  No doubt, a performance that may earn him an Academy Award.

The other actor that also gave an award winning performance was Jared Leto as the transgendered Rayon.  Leto had lost a lot of weight for this role, to the point that friends and family thought he was sick.  But Leto made this role as Rayon believable, emotional and brought a major emotional component to the film but also the film’s most humorous moments.

Jean-Marc Vallee did a magnificent job in directing the film and so far, since “Cafe de Flore”, he has not lost a beat.  The pacing was well-done and he managed to get the best out of his actors.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is well-done.  If anything, because of the major weightloss of both McConaughey and Leto, the film really brought out their tired faces, the suffering of their characters.  Colors were warm and as for dialogue, the film is primarily a dialogue-driven film but does tend to utilize ambiance of crowds sparingly during scenes at meetings.  But for the most part, this is a center and front channel driven soundtrack.  As for special features, unfortunately, there are no audio commentary and you get about eight minutes worth of special features.

But as much as the Blu-ray does skimp on special features, I have no doubt that goal was to capitalize on the amazing press that this film has garnered in the past few months and the spectacular performances by McConaughey and Leto.

It took nearly 30-years to get the story of Ron Woodroof to film and the truth is that timing for this film was important but most of all, having the right story but also the right director and right cast members in order to pull this film off.

“Dallas Buyers Club” is a fantastic film that features magnificent performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto and while short on special features, this Blu-ray is definitely recommended!

 

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