Jimmy’s Hall – A Very Light Biopic

Ken Loach‘s last feature focused on Jimmy Gralton, the leader of the actual Communist Party of Ireland, back in 1932.
This figure of not only communism, but cultural revolution, was obliged to flee Ireland during the Civil War of the country in the 20’s, after building a cultural space. Indeed, this “hall” – as called in the movie – combined different activities such as singing, poetry, box and dance. It went against the strict values of the Catholic Church and after Jimmy’s (Barry Ward) escape, it was shut down.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 10.05.18Jimmy’s Hall relates his story starting the day of his coming back ten years after the event. It didn’t take long to him to reopen the hall and gather along the old activists and teenagers in search of freedom.
However, it didn’t take long also to get the attention of the Church again.
When Jimmy flee the country, he went to the United States, where he wandered around jazz clubs, animated by black musicians, and assisted to the evolution of the music genre. Therefore, when he returned, he introduced new dance moves to the members of the hall, moves bearing sexual meanings and african-american origins, but most importantly, moves caring freedom of expression, and opposition.

Ken Loach filmed the movie as an old movie broadcasted on TV on a lazy afternoon.

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However, as many Loach’ movies, his biopic bears and conveys values and elements of denunciation. Here, an image of an old Ireland, where the Catholic Church wanted to contain all the progressive ideas of the time embodied by the character of Jimmy. A Church that is represented as castrator, negatively portrayed; a source of violence controlled by a priest aiming as inspiring respect and devotion to the population of Leitrim.

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Despite all that, the film lacks of twists. Indeed, it is really smooth, very light, and thus, lacks of a little something that will get it out of the tv feature film aspect.
The issue is also located in the angle Loach has adopted, filming from one perspective, thus lessening the complexity. It is a light movie, with a happy ending and no shots taking by night increasing this idea of lightness.

In a nutshell, all the craziness, intensity, and thus depth Jimmy’s Hall could have borne was put aside, which is very unfortunate.

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Dallas Buyers Club – Matthew McConaughey, drawing his “straight line of success”

Unlike Nicolas CageMatthew McConaughey had darn good parts in his last films chosen damn right.

EXCLUSIVE: Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto film scenes together for The Dallas Buyers Club in New Orleans.

He is Ron Woodroof, a real Texan, rodeo cowboy, who loves whores and cocaine, in his last feature: Dallas Buyers Club, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.
Homophobic, it was quite, tragic and ironic, when he was diagnosed with AIDS.
Next to Jared Leto, who won and deserved a Golden Globe for his outstanding performance embodying Rayon, a lovable transexual, and Jennifer Garner, playing the role of Dr. Eve Saks, Matthew McConaughey, gave everything he had, for one of his best, or maybe his best, role. He perfectly got his character, and even though he had to be skinny (50 pounds lost), and get a mustache, he was handsome, because, his acting, was beyond everything else.

The story is defining his character in a way, because, when he discovers that he had AIDS, after having sex with a heroin addict prostitute, he tried everything to get better. As the doctors said he only had 30 days left, his anger, turned into an urge to survive. Its 1985, and scientists are trying to find a cure to this unbeatable disease, and by the time Ron learns about his HIV, a new medicine, AZT, is about to be tried. As he doesn’t want to be part of those who gets the placebo in the testing, he buys it from a guy, working at the hospital. Well, it appears to be not working, and after doing some research on his own, and getting medicine not supported in the country, he runs his own pharmaceutical market, with those new drugs that made him feel better.

The whole purpose of his action, is not only getting better himself, but helping the others. He moved to, hating homos, to helping them. Dallas Buyers Club, is also a great life lesson, about, solidarity, and not judging before knowing. Ron found himself in the same situation as gays, he finally stayed more with them than other people, not to mention his old friends turning their backs to him. He overcame his prejudice. And his relationship with Rayon, is one the best example, of this overcoming.

The movie, is what I love to call, a truly humanistic film, that is to say, having actors embedded in their characters, and strongly conveying emotions, and experiences, with palpable feelings, that we might someday, discover too. Rayon, just like Ron, wants to survive, they are both the depiction of joyful people, enjoying life and fearing death, even though, both are brushing with it everyday; one drug addict, and one rodeo-cowboy.
Ron’s character is interesting for us, viewers, because we are witnessing his evolution, and facing his determination to denounce the FDA and selling his medicine that is making HIV victims better. But he is also trying to have his moments, some intimacy. He misses sex, and falls into denial sometimes, when he feels weak. And I would call those elements, meticulous finishes, that give the character his final structure, and make him believable, give him credit.

I truly hope Matthew McConaughey, gets an Oscar for this role. This would be fair and he deserves it, and even if the competition with Leonardo DiCaprio is pretty strong.

Dallas Buyers Club, is ferocious, powerful and awfully human. Watch it you will not be disappointed. 

Behind The Candelabra – Father, brother, lover

20130917-123230.jpgSteven Soderbergh is an astonishing filmmaker. Each movie he made, was kind of unpredictable, as long as he’s experiencing every type of film (from Ocean’s Eleven to Magic Mike). And once again, I was surprised to know he was the one directing Behind The Candelabra, recalling the hidden love story between Liberace (Lee) and Scott, starting in 1977 and in a time where the pianist was not assuming his homosexuality. The paradox of the character is that, he gives a lot of importance to appearances, yet he disguised himself, just like drag queens do.

If Soderbergh is using the camera as a tool to remind the spectator of the atmosphere and colors of the 70’s/80’s, he’s also perfectly remodeling the extravagant costumes and luxury decors of Liberace era. Everything’s glamorous and fabulous, and it’s not even a little bit “too much”. The icing on the cake is surely the breathtaking performance of Michael Douglas as the glistening pianist, plus, this collaboration with Matt Damon as he’s young lover Scott Thorson. Who knew that those two manly actors could play convincing divas?
Glitter and fur, fancy jewelry and furniture, wig and plastic surgery Lee embodies the typical stereotype of the homosexual. However, he’s known, among only a small circle, as being gay and having a little preference for well built younger boys. Thus, when he met his Adonis, he directly get rid of his previous toy and gave Scott, the title of “protégé”.

Now, this is going further than just a love story. Because of the tough childhood of Scott (moving from a foster home to another), and the considerable age gap between the two men, Lee is seeing in his protégé, the son he never had and will never have, and wants to be in turn, the father Scott never really had. Therefore, he positioned himself as his father, brother and lover, and even think of adopting him. He wanted to be everything to him. This disturbed me a lot; it raised the question of incest, and to how far the the frustration of hiding his homosexuality, or at least the relationship his having with Thorson, might have led him to.
Starting from here, Scott entered a transformation process, under the commands and pressure of Lee, in order to look like him, and looks like he could be his son. The stake is Thorson’s identity. His old lover already owns him morally, and financially, now, it’s about physical ownership. Lee set his trademark on him and we realize that the extravaganza doesn’t limit itself to eccentric houses, and clothes, the extravaganza comes first, from the pianist virtuoso’s brain.

Little by little, as the years passed, Scott is feeling like he’s trapped in a cage, they don’t go out, they don’t see people, unless during Liberace concerts, and this one is getting bored of his winnings. He finds a new target, and Thorson will soon be experiencing what his predecessor lived. The same scheme is repeated.

The issue raised in the movie could be “how far would you go, for love?”. Scott, chose to completely dedicate himself to Lee, and accept everything from him. Now, when he’s put apart, no wonder he went mad. However his love lasts, and I believe Lee’s too.
If a lesson can be learn in this movie, is “do not push away the person who could do anything for you”, because at the end, he’ll be the only one there to not let you die alone.