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medical drama

Me Before You (2016)

DIRECTOR: Thea Sharrock

CAST: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer, Charles Dance, Matthew Lewis, Jenna Coleman

REVIEW:

There’s a difficult balance to handling this kind of medical-based “tearjerker” romance that walks a tightrope between moving and mawkish. For the most part, Me Before You by first-time director Thea Sharrock and adapted by Jojo Moyes from her own novel navigates this tricky act successfully, serving up a lighter touch and avoiding pitfalls of excessive mawkishness. It’s not a great film, but it’s a pleasant enough confection that serves up a little humor, romance, and tears.

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Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

dallas-buyers-clubDIRECTOR: Jean-Marc Vallee

CAST: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner

REVIEW:

Like 1993’s PhiladelphiaDallas Buyers Club centers on an individual’s experience in the AIDS crisis, but unlike Jonathan Demme’s earlier film, it tells a true story, that of Ron Woodroof, a homophobic heterosexual who was transformed by circumstances into a crusader for AIDS patients and the ringleader of a mostly gay Dallas-based group called The Dallas Buyers Club, using medications unapproved in the US and waging a years-long war with the FDA and extending his own life to another seven years, far beyond his initial prognosis of thirty days.  While Philadelphia‘s flaws were somewhat mitigated by its social courage in releasing at the height of the AIDS epidemic, Dallas Buyers Club might have the most value to viewers too young to remember the climate of the time period, with AIDS sufferers treated with fear and ignorance and effective medication hard to come by. Continue reading

Philadelphia (1993)

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Demme

CAST:

Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Antonio Banderas, Jason Robards, Joanne Woodward, Mary Steenburgen, Bradley Whitford, Charles Napier, Daniel von Bargen

REVIEW:

AIDS (Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome) emerged as a major crisis in the early 80s but was largely ignored into the beginning of the 90s in the United States even though the US had more cases than any other nation. Educational programs were well underway in Europe, but US politicians gave it low priority, and President Ronald Reagan did not mention it in a speech until 1987. By that time there were 51,000 cases in 113 countries. Reagan’s administration resisted congressional efforts and the crusading of Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to increase funds for AIDS research and prevention. To many Americans, AIDS was a ‘gay disease’ and was not considered a subject for polite conversation due to its (exaggerated) association with homosexuality. Media treatment focused on the relatively few heterosexuals who had contracted the disease through blood transfusions. This partially changed in 1985, when archetypal Hollywood leading man Rock Hudson announced that he was gay and dying of AIDS. Hudson died in October of that year, leaving $250,000 to an AIDS research foundation, and while the revelation that a popular celebrity was infected prompted more coverage of the shamefully ignored plight of thousands of infected homosexuals, many Americans continued to inaccurately view AIDS as a disease which only pertained to homosexuals, who were largely viewed with indifference or even considered to deserve it. Despite its status as the worst epidemic of modern times, it was the subject of extraordinary ignorance and fear, with infected individuals ostracized and even attacked by others who believed incorrectly that you could contract it through casual contact. The epidemic peaked in 1993, the same year of a second step forward in AIDS awareness, director Jonathan Demme’s (The Silence of the Lambs) flawed but courageous and socially important drama Philadelphia. Continue reading

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