The Raid: My Love of Action Has Returned

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The first time I heard about the movie Raid: Redemption, all I could think was, “great, another stupid action movie.” The truth is, that I had grown tired of action movies. Sure, I’ll go to all the comicbook movies, but that’s because they’re comicbook movies. I’m going to see movies about characters I’ve liked and followed for years. I’m going because I want to be entertained by the universe that the comicbook movies inhabit. The action had become secondary. The last non-comic action movie I remember seeing before the two Raid movies was one of the Fast and Furious movies and, to be honest, I had grown weary of them. They have their moments for when I just need some mild entertainment, but I’m not captured by those movies, and I’m not exhilarated by them. I had grown apathetic to the whole genre, waiting for the movies to end more so than actually caring about what was happening.

Then a couple years ago, things started to change. A friend told me I had to check out a movie called The Raid Redemption. I said fine. I didn’t go in expecting much, but then the assault began, and things changed. The choreography of the fight scenes, the way the huge battles were shot, the way they were able to develop characters in a short amount of time, without the need of long expositions, and the story itself, gave me a sense of joy I had not felt in a long time while watching an action movie.

Suffice it to say, When the Raid 2: Berendal hit theaters, I could not wait to see it, hoping it could match the excitement of the first film. What I went through in that movie theater while watching Raid 2, was a level of anxiety and exhilaration I had never felt before during an action film. The Raid 2 was, to my disbelief, a whole new level above even the first film.

The film begins five minutes after the first film ended. Our protagonist, Rama, is recruited to go undercover and infiltrate one of the largest gangs in the city. To do this, he had to get himself arrested, and befriend the boss’ son, who was doing time in prison. Once out of prison, Rama joins the gang, an begins to work to uncover their various crimes, and their involvement with police corruption, as a whole shit storm of trouble comes flying his way. I don’t want to talk too much about the iconic action scenes in the movie as I don’t want to ruin them for anyone who has not seen them yet. Suffice it to say, as I was sitting in that theater, I experienced the literal sensation of being on the edge of my seat, because that’s exactly where I was. The moment I saw the muddy prison yard fight, I was sold. I knew I could never look at action films the same way, because the two Raid films had given me new expectations. I saw Captain America 2, the week after I saw the Raid 2, and while I enjoyed the film as a spy thriller, I spent much of the time during the fight scenes thinking how unsatisfying they were compared to what I had seen the previous week.

The Raid 2 was not just a great action film, though. In some ways, I found it to be an homage to some great films of the past, whether the references were intentional or not. The most apparent that come to mind are the montage murder scene that came off as eerily similar to the baptism by fire scene in The Godfather; the train car fight scene that seemed to be a throwback to the original Oldboy and/or Kill Bill Vol. 1; and a more general homage to Infernal Affairs, watching Rama struggle to remain undercover just as Chen Wing Yan did.

Suffice it to say, the Raid films have rekindled my love of the action film genre, and I can only hope that their success will push the genre into a new, more thrilling direction. I don’t know if my wish will come true, but for the first time in a long time, I eagerly await what will come.

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CHATEAU ALIK: CONFUSION AND CHAOS

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I don’t normally post negative reviews, mostly because I’d rather tell people what they should try instead of what they should avoid. But, based on my experience yesterday, I’m compelled to write something now.

Chateau de Alik is a restaurant in the Sheepshead Bay area of Brooklyn, and the experience I had yesterday might have been the most hilariously terrible level of service I’ve ever experienced at a “high end” restaurant. For the most part, the restaurant is like any typical russian restaurant in the Sheepshead Bay/Brighton Beach area. Gaudy aesthetics, a menu with no clear theme, and waiters who tend to cater better to other Russians than to Americans. Considering my whole family is from Russia, I figured I’d be getting decent service, but what followed could only be found in a slapstick comedy.

Our reservations were for 4:30, and we were informed that there is a big party scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and that we need to be finished eating by then. with two and a half hours, I figured that was fine, there was only five of us, how long could it really take to get through a three course meal? The answer is two hours and fifteen minutes when your waiters forget to serve you. As we were seated we were given three menus, all in russian, which my brother and I can barely read. It took five minutes for the waiter to actually bring two more menus for us, and we just happened to luck out that they ran out of russian menus and “had to” give us the english ones.

The menu itself is all over the place, it seems like the chef knew he wanted to have expensive dishes on the menu, and based the entire menu on that alone. There’s nothing that actually brought the menu together. There were french dishes, and italian dishes, and russian dishes. The next issue is there was no separation between appetizers that are meant for a single person and appetizer that were meant to be shared with the table. We ordered four appetizers, tuna tartar, escargot, smoked bacon and tomato salad, and fried calamari. The escargot and tartar were tiny dishes, with barely enough food on the plates to share. the salad and calamari on the other hand were enormous. Unfortunately the former were meant to be shared and the latter were for individual people.

Now the service, this is where we really had some fun. Now I will qualify what follows by saying that there was a large party for a one-year old being prepped while we were eating so the waiters were distracted. Having said that, if your staff can’t handle serving a table while preparing for an event, then you really shouldn’t be taking reservations. Our waiter seemed particularly clueless. It started with a complete lack of understanding of what my brother and I were trying to order, because we were ordering in English. It got to the point where we had to point at things on the menu for him to know what we wanted. As orders would finally come in, they would not come in all at once. Half the table would be well into eating their appetizers before the other half got anything. My brother suffered in particular, as he ordered the bacon salad, which they clearly forgot to make. As every other appetizer was almost eaten, we finally got a hold of our waiter and told him that the salad had not been brought yet. Turns out, it takes 30 minutes to cook bacon, at least that’s what the message from the kitchen to us was, that “they were still cooking the bacon.” More realistically, they obviously forgot. My brother then asked for water, and instead of bringing a pitcher to pour for the table, they took his glass away and returned it filled with water. Instead of making the waiter take four more trips to refill all our other glasses, we asked for some water to just be brought to the table. They brought sealed bottle of Voss water… and then charged us $4.50 per bottle. We eventually finished our appetizers and waited a further 30 minutes before the entrees would be served. Once again they were not served simultaneously and there would be some people eating, while others weren’t. Finally, when we tried ordering dessert, the waiters did not know what was on their own menu. They were out of two of the options and were offering desserts made at a completely different establishment. This was all topped off by the fact that at all times half the staff was just standing around chatting and half was running around setting up for the party. We’d have to wave our hands frantically for anyone to notice us and two different times things were dropped right behind us. My brother and I were dying of laughter by the end of this meal. The meal reached the point of being one of those movies that are so awful that they become hilarious.

I would say that the food was a small redeeming factor but it really wasn’t. It’s not that the food was bad, it was mostly adequate, but it wasn’t the quality of food one would expect for the prices that were being charged. The sauce for the calamari was so chunky and unsausy that you couldn’t really dip anything into it. At one point I just forked out a huge piece of tomato so I could at least have some of the dip with my calamari. My brother had rice with his entree, some of which seemed undercooked as he had a bit of crunchy rice. To boot, his scallops had little bits of crunch on them. We couldn’t tell if the scallops were poorly washed and still had some sand, or if the top was so over cooked that we were crunching on little burnt pieces of the scallop. I ordered a rack of lambs, and though there was plenty of food on the plate, the lamb was not uniformly cooked. I asked for medium-rare and while one my cuts was medium-rare the second was very clearly medium, with the entire center being a solid pink.

Perhaps it was a bad night, perhaps the experience is better for a large party than for a small one. Whatever the issue was for the staff that night, it was enough to ensure that I will never willingly return. As my brother and I exited the restaurant, we noticed that directly adjacent to Chateau de Alik, was an authentic looking chinese restaurant, meat hanging in the window and all. We both thought the same thing, that we’d have rather gone there. suffice it to say, I won’t be returning and I plan to actively tell people to avoid this place unless they want a good laugh or they’re willing to shell out a lot of money for a mediocre experience.

2014 OSCAR PREDICTIONS

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With the Oscars only hours away, I’ve finally seen enough of the nominees to be able to do some predictions. As an homage to the late, great Roger Ebert, for each category that I make a prediction for I shall list both who I think will win and a dark horse. Let’s begin.

BEST PICTURE

Prediction: 12 Years a Slave

I have trouble seeing how this film can lose. It’s wonderfully directed, wonderfully acted, and is emotionally powerful. It is certainly the strongest contender, in my book, for the best picture award.

Dark Horse: Her.

This might be a ridiculous choice, but then again, it’s ridiculous that the academy picks 10 nominees instead of 5, and there are just too many to choose from. So, I will choose Her because it might have been my favorite film of the year. Not the best film, mind you, but certainly a favorite. It original, it’s beautifully shot, and Joaquin Phoenix does a splendid job in the film.

BEST ACTOR

Prediction: Chiwetel Ejiofor

I said it in my review of the film, but not only is Ejiofor’s acting brilliant in the film, but he benefits from such a powerful story behind it. It was a powerful performance that would be difficult to beat.

Dark Horse: Matthew McConaughey

The same things that make Ejiofor such a strong contender for the award are present in McConaughey’s performance as well. He has a difficult role here, attempting to play a character who transitions from one extreme to another without ever changing the way he actually interacts with people. It was a toss up for me between McConaughey and Phoenix here. Phoenix had the difficult task of having to interact with an intangible voice, and it’s truly some of his best work. However, McConaughey was a powerhouse in his role and I’ll give him the dark horse in this instance.

BEST ACTRESS

Prediction: Dame Judi Dench

Hands down, no question, it will be a great shock to me if she does not win. I only wish that I had seen this film earlier so that I may have had a chance to write about it, but too late now. She brings such honesty to this character and such curiosity and hope that she pulls herself far ahead the competition.

Dark Horse: Amy Adams

Unlike the previous categories, I don’t think this is a close race at all. For me this borders on the same one-sidedness as when Helen Mirren won for The Queen. But, if I have to pick a dark horse, I’m going with one of my favorite actresses, Amy Adams. Her navel deep v neck outfits alone are enough to warrant the dark horse for this category.

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Prediction: Michael Fassbender

This category might be the closest field of them all. Between Fassbender, Cooper, and Leto it’s almost any man’s game. I am leaning towards Fassbender because of the sheer range of his character. This character how to be able to go from seemingly sweet to monstrous in one second flat and Fassbender did so seamlessly.

Dark Horse: Bradley Cooper

I name Cooper the dark horse here because to some extent, his character is similar in difficulty as Fassbender’s. Not as wide in range and not as quickly changeable, he still had the difficult task of portraying a man who becomes more and more obsessed and unstable as the film progresses. What I’m looking at here is the difference between what Fassbender and Cooper pulled off versus what Jonah Hill did, which was just stay in the red for the entire film. Cooper did it well, but Fassbender did it better and with a more difficult role.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Prediction: June Squibb

I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved this character. She made herself the perfect contrast to Bruce Dern’s character. While Bruce Dern played a man who’s clearly not as sharp as he used to be, who’s naive, and who wants to be liked, Squibb played his long “suffering” wife. She was blunt, sharp as a razor, saw through everyone else’s shit, and couldn’t care what others thought of her. She sometimes came off as hard on her husband, but through her actions, you could see how much she really loved him.

Dark Horse: Jennifer Lawrence

She’s going to have quite a collection of these awards of she sticks with David O. Russell. She was close this year, but close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades.

DIRECTING

Prediction: Steve McQueen

Fuck Armond White, I don’t care what he thinks of McQueen. McQueen made this movie into a powerhouse feature and deserves recognition for the splendid work he did.

Dark Horse: Alexander Payne

I don’t know what it is in particular, but I thought Payne did a great job with Nebraska, from the tone he was able to set, to the choice to film in black and white. He took risks with this film that I appreciate. I don’t know if it’s enough to win the award, but he’s a strong contender.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Prediction: Gravity

I know many people didn’t like this movie, but I quite liked it. Not at all a favorite film, but it was enjoyable. However, no matter what you think of the film, you cannot deny how amazing the shots were. It was certainly a visual wonder, that can’t be denied.

Dark Horse: Inside LLewyn Davis

Only because I loved this movie and would like it to win something.

ANIMATED FEATURE

I abstain here. I have yet to see The Wind Rises and Ernest and Celestine, both of which I feel like I must see before I can choose properly. Suffice it to say, the award will probably go to either those two or to Frozen. As a lifelong Miyazaki fan, I’ll be rooting for him, but wouldn’t be disappointed if it went to any of these films.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Prediction: Her

The Academy should be ashamed of itself if this does not win best original screenplay. It was witty, it was complex, and it was completely unique.

Dark Horse: Nebraska

The dialogue between the characters is masterful.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Prediction: Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope

Steve Coogan wrote a fantastic screenplay. One that allows room for humor and lightheartedness without taking away from the film’s darker aspects.

Dark Horse: John Ridley

See everything I’ve already said about 12 Years a Slave.

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Prediction: Mr. Hublot

This was a wonderful little french short about a robotic humanoid with OCD who saves a mechanical dog, who proceeds to grow too big and ruin his tiny apartment. It’s funny and quirky and sentimental.

Dark Horse: Possessions

I would be so happy if this won. The film focuses on a japanese wanderer who walks into an abandoned home to escape the storm. Turns out the home is haunted with all the things that have been forgotten and abandoned. He goes room by room through the home, fixing everything, until finally the home settles and let’s him leave. I loved the animation and it was a lovely story.

That’s all I’ve got. Let me know what you think in the comments.

The Wolf of Wall Street: Scorcese’s Fall to Mediocrity

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This movie was hard for me to watch. Not because it’s long, not because it’s sexually graphic, but because it’s so mediocre. The film is singular, devoid of the complexity we’ve grown to appreciate in a Scorcese film, and devoid of a protagonist who we care about. I don’t mean that the protagonist has to be a good person; Henry Hill was not a good person, but we cared about him. The same can be said for Travis Bickle, Howard Hughes, Jake LaMotta, and most other Scorcese protagonists. None of them were necessarily good people, or sympathetic people, but they were all interesting people, and that’s what made them characters that the audience can care about. Which leads me to my first point: Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) is boring. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m sure up until the point he got sent to jail his life was exciting, full of booze, drugs, sex, and money. But as a character and as a person he’s fucking boring. There’s nothing new about the character of Belfort that we haven’t seen a million times before. All he is is Henry Hill with a bit of experience from Gordon Gecco.

But, unlike Jordan, at least Henry Hill’s story was interesting and insightful. We were shown one of the more realistic views of a world that few of us will ever get to see. We see a man dealing with the conflicts of two worlds that he must juggle: that of his family and that of his “family.” Jordan, as I said above, has none of this. His greed and love of drugs and sex is unbounded by any real conflicts. If he gets caught cheating, he’s forgiven. There’s nothing and no one impeding his drug use. And his punishment for everything he’s done is nothing more than a few years in prison, only to come out and be just as rich and successful before. Yes, fine, his wife left near the end of the movie, but between the hookers and the money and everything else, I think he’ll manage to get over it. On a final point, the worst part of the character is the complete lack of character development. He tells us right in the beginning that he arrived on Wall Street as a greedy bastard. We see a few scenes of him at his first firm, timid as a mouse while talking to his boss who raked in $1 million last year. Then he goes to Long Island and instantly becomes this loud, obnoxious big shot. All it took was one good day at work and his first puff of crack, generously offered by his friend Donnie (Jonah Hill). And that’s it, nothing about him changes from that point. Like I said, he’s boring and singular. This leads me to my next point, the story is as singular as the character.

The movie is basically three hours long, and about two and a half hours of the movie are dedicated to showing the ridiculous escapades of this man. Partying at work, partying at a club, partying on his yacht, partying back at work, oh wait let’s quickly show how he sent money to Switzerland, okay back to the partying. There’s no variety here, the entire movie tries to stay on this emotionally thrilling high with no tempo or changes of pace. two-thirds of the way into the movie, I just couldn’t give a shit anymore. I started playing a game of guessing whether he’ll be snorting cocaine or swallowing quaaludes in the next scene because that’s basically the entire movie. Seriously, look at the poster at the top of this article: that’s the movie. A bunch of guys acting moronically and getting rich followed by more partying and idiocy.

This film was not what I expect from Scorcese. Some argue that he’s not what he used to be, and after seeing The Departed and Shutter Island, I was starting to agree (seriously, The Departed was almost entirely a shot for shot remake of Infernal Affairs, the latter being a much more cohesive and overall better film). But then the man stunned me with Hugo and I was back on the Scorcese train, but this film is not one I want to be riding with.

I’ll give the movie some credit, some scenes I loved, and some were quite funny and witty. Watching Jordan try to function after downing a handful of some older, more powerful quaaludes, then trying to stop Donnie from talking on the wiretapped phone was great. But it doesn’t make up for the fact that the rest of the movie was just the same shit over and over again. I honestly don’t care about the amount of sex shown, I know that’s a complaint that some people had, but I’m totally fine with a voluminous use of sex, as long as it’s used well, but this did nothing for me except remind me of all the better movies I could have been watching like, say, Margin Call or Goodfellas or Casino or  Glenngarry Glen Ross or even Trading Places for something lighter. In fact, that’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to watch one of these fine films just so I can see something that didn’t have me on the verge of sleep halfway through.

If you want to see this film just for the sake of seeing this film, go ahead, but I wouldn’t spend my money on seeing it in theaters. This movie is wholly undeserving of $14. It’s not good, and it’s not so bad that it’s good. It’s right smack in the middle full of mediocrity, singularity, and dullness. On the bright side, with the Oscars right around the corner, there are much better nominated films that you can spend your money on.

12 Years a Slave: There is no Moral Relativism

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You know you’re in for a powerful film when within the first few minutes you find yourself pleading with the screen for the very thing not to happen that you know will inevitably happen. You see Solomon sign up to perform for a traveling circus, and you instantly start yelling to yourself “DON’T TRUST THEM, YOU DON’T KNOW THEM! AND DON’T LEAVE THE FUCKING STATE, DON’T DO IT!” That’s what went through my head in the opening scenes of 12 Years a Slave. The inevitability of what happens is in the god damn title, and I still found myself begging with the screen that the outcome is otherwise. That’s when I knew I was in for something special. But, that’s not what I want to talk about today. Yes, the movie is gripping, yes the acting is impeccable from everyone (though Benedict Cumberbatch was horribly underused), yes, Chiwetel Ejiofor is a strong contendor for the best acting Oscar along with Matthew McConaughey and Joaquin Phoenix, but the real magic of the film was how it addressed the question of moral relativism.

There are characters in this movie who are undoubtedly good, and there are characters who are undoubtedly evil. But then we’re presented with a slew of characters and situations that find themselves in a moral gray area, and are presented with the question of whether or not these are good people. Do we forgive their actions because of the times they find themselves in or is an act that is purely evil inexcusable regardless of whether the society you live in condones it.

The first time this question is presented to us is through Solomon’s first own, Master Ford. Master Ford was Solomon’s first owner and is portrayed like an all around decent human being. He listens to Solomon when he suggested transporting the lumber through the river instead of by land, he gifts Solomon with a violin, and he tries to protect Solomon when a white man swears to kill him. But he is a slave owner. This is the exact argument that Solomon ends up having with another slave on Ford’s plantation. Solomon tells her that Ford is a good man and if they stay quiet they can survive without harm being done to them. He suggests to survive until there is an opportunity for freedom. She replies, “Ford is your freedom? You don’t think he knows that you are more than you suggest? But he does nothing for you, nothing. You are no better than prized livestock. Call for him, tell him of your previous circumstances and see what it earns you, Solomon.” It is a powerful moment, and rings true enough to hurt because we hope she is wrong, and know she is right. Her point is validated on the last night that Solomon is with Ford. Ford tells Solomon that he can no longer protect Solomon from his attackers and gave him to another plantation owner where he will be “safe.” Solomon makes a desperate attempt to tell Ford of his previous life, to which Ford replies that he cannot hear these things, that he has a $1000 debt. Ford seemed a decent man. He did not intentionally harm his slaves. He listened to the concerns of his slaves. But he owned slaves, and that’s the moral theme of the film. No matter how good a man may seem, he cannot truly be a good man when he is in the business of owning another human being. He may be a better man than Master Epps (Michael Fassbender, but being better is not equivalent to being good.

There is a second moment that stuck with me particularly, and that is when Master Epps forced Solomon to whip Patsey. At first Solomon he attempts to do it as lightly as possible. Maybe he thinks that if he fakes the whipping, she won’t receive a worse whipping from Epps. But then Epps approaches him and says that if Solomon does not whip her properly, he will kill Solomon and every other slave on the farm. At this point Solomon begins to whip her mercilessly, forcing the audience to watch as horrible lacerations form on Patsey’s back. So again there is a question here, of whether it is moral for a person to torture another person if it means he saves his own life or, even more so, it means he saves the lives of many. It is a complicated question, a question that has reverberates to current events, and a question that audience members must decide for  themselves. I will only say that if the theme of the film is consistent, then there is no moral relativism. An individual’s bad acts are not justified by the otherwise good actions of that individual. We can say that Ford was a better person than Epps, but it is wholly different to say that Ford was a good person. We can say that Solomon had to make a difficult decision, but the difficulty of the decision does not decide whether the decision was good or bad, only that it was difficult.

One of the more interesting characters in the movie is Bass (Brad Pitt), a freelancer from Canada, who spends some time working on Epps’ farm to make some money. Epps and Bass end up conversing about the nature of slavery after Epps offers Bass some water and Bass comments about the condition of Epps’ other laborers. Epps tells Bass that it is a fact that they are not laborers, but his slaves, his property, with which he can do what he pleases. Bass responds the only way one can respond in such a situation, “This conversation concerns what is factual and what is not. Then it must be said that there is no justice or righteousness in this slavery… suppose they pass a law taking away your liberty. Suppose.” I won’t transcribe the entire conversation, but it is a powerful one that brings home the entire message of the film. Truth, justice, and righteousness are constants; they do not change based on the times, nor do they change simply because a law says they do.

I urge you all to see this film. There is no moral relativism.

Dallas Buyers Club: A Cocktail of Awesome

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My favorite way, and the only way I can think of, to properly describe Dallas Buyers Club is that it’s a wonderful combination of Schindler’s List, Philadelphia, and The People vs. Larry Flynt. And yet, it’s entirely its own film. You have a self-interested man whose business leads him to empathize with and protect victims of an unjust world. You have a bigot, whose job forces him to interact with the very people he discriminates against, and who learns to consider these people as one of his own. Finally you have a man with a sizable ego who isn’t afraid to take on the government when they interfere with his ability to do his job.

The film is inspired by the true story of a man named Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey); an electrician, a con-artist, and a bigot, who discovers he has HIV and eventually AIDS. Ron ends up in a hospital where he is diagnosed and told he has thirty days left to live. Instead of taking it lying down and just accepting his fate, Ron begins to smuggle a new experimental drug, AZT, out of the hospital and self-medicates. This turns out to be a mistake, for though the drug helps to destroy HIV, it also destroys the rest of the individual from the inside out. Ron ends up in Mexico where he meets a former doctor who’s been treating HIV and AIDS patients by giving them cocktails that treat the symptoms instead of attacking the virus directly. Ron decides to make money by selling the drugs he can get from Mexico in the United States, except he needs to do so legally. So enters, the Dallas Buyers Club. As Ron explains to his customers and the cops who won’t leave him alone, he’s not selling the drugs to anyone, he’s giving them away for free to members of his club. He does however charge club members a fee of $400 per month. Ron teams up with Rayon (Jared Leto), another HIV patient, as they go off on this business venture while fighting the government at every step. They also get some help from Eve (Jennifer Garner) a doctor who is wary of the AZT drug and a quasi-love interest for Ron.

McConaughey pulls off one of the best acting performances of the year in this role. He brilliantly portrays a man who slowly makes his way through all the steps of culture shock as he becomes immersed  in a culture of people he hates and is disgusted by. Hours after seeing the film, two scenes are so vividly still burned in my memory that so perfectly portray this. In this first, Ron awakens in the hospital after overmedicating on AZT, where he meets Rayon for the first time. Ron is instantly hostile towards Rayon and wants nothing more than for Rayon to go back to his own bed and shut up. Out of the blue Rayon suggests that they play cards, which Ron hesitantly accepts only when Rayon agrees that they do some gambling. This entire interaction is quite something. You have moments during their first meeting where you see Ron start to forget that he doesn’t like Rayon because he’s gay and talks to him like he would with anyone else. Then suddenly something would click and he’d go back to his insults and homophobic slurs. McConaughey so beautifully plays this scene, showing us how difficult it is for someone to maintain hatred towards another person when the hatred is based on nothing more than a negative predisposition to a specific group of people. This is where we get a lot of hints of Denzel Washington’s character in Philadelphia, where he played a lawyer that could not be more uncomfortable around gay people at the start of his business relationship with Tom Hanks’ character.

The second scene that really sticks out for me occurs in a super market. Ron is food shopping and meets one of his former, bigoted friends, T.J (Kevin Rankin). The last time Ron saw T.J, T.J and a group of friends ran Ron out of his former life once they discovered he had HIV. They insulted him, called him a fag, and locked him out of his own home. Now they meet again many months later, and T.J attempts to make small talk by pointing out all the”fags” hanging around the super market today, at which point Rayon approaches and introduces himself. When T.J refuses to shake Rayon’s hand, Ron grabs him from behind in a choke hold and forces him to shake Rayon’s hand properly before letting go of him. When Rayon looks at Ron glowingly for what he did, Ron just shrugs it off like he doesn’t understand what the big deal was. This is the first scene where McConaughey really shows us how far Ron has come as a character from the start of the film. With no second thought Ron jumped to protect his friend’s honor, something that he may not have even done for one of his former friends with the way he was at the start of the film. He didn’t just stop being a bigot, he matured as a human being and started caring about people other than himself.

Dallas Buyers Club is a wonderful mix of different pieces of movies all movie goers love, but adds something that’s entirely its own, unique and original. Overall, it probably isn’t my favorite movie of the year. Some characters are too stereotypical for my liking, and Garner’s performance is flat and uninspired. But for its few flaws, it has too many good things to miss. So go out and enjoy this cocktail of a film.