Thursday, April 23, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 04/22/15: Dickens Makes Me Laugh, Dinner at the Old Line, *Dallas Buyers Club*

1.  One of my favorite novels is Robertson Davies' Tempest-Tost, a story about a community theater in the fictional town of Salterton and its performance of The Tempest.  I experienced a similar delight this afternoon in a single chapter of Great Expectations.  Pip has known Mr. Wopsle for a long time and accepts Wopsle's invitation to see him in a London amateur production of Hamlet, with Wopsle leading the awful production as the melancholy Dane.  It's a hysterical chapter.  Everything about the production is terrible and everyone knows it except the company mounting the play.  I suppose the chapter adds to the overall story of Pip going from being a boy to becoming an adult, but, really, it's a digressive chapter and a digressive delight -- it's one of several chapters I can see myself going back and rereading for another good laugh.

2.  The Deke and I decided to take a rare night off of home cooking and went to the Old Line Bistro in Beltsville where we had some really good beer talk with our server, Ryan.  I enjoyed a pint of Starr Hill's Grateful Pale Ale, out of Charlottelsville, VA and the Deke went deeper into the South for an Imperial Stout from Sweetwater Brewery -- and I can't remember its name -- I only know that the Deke went out into the adjacent liquor store (a former Circuit City outlet) and looked to see if the beer was available in bottles.  We each stopped at one beer. The Deke enjoyed her burger and I scarfed down my steak sandwich rolled in flatbread and our dinner out in beautiful downtown Beltsville drew to a close.

3.  I topped of a fine day of reading, dinner out, and movie viewing by watching Matthew McConaughey's riveting performance as Ron Woodroof in, a Texas electrician-rodeo rider-womanizer with a profound nausea for gay men, who finds out he is carrying the HIV virus.  This discovery kicks the movie into overdrive and McConaughey brings to life Woodroof's fearless, profane, and shrewd determination to circumvent the FDA and to use not yet approved treatments for HIV and to make them available, at a club membership cost, to patients in the USA.  His business becomes the Dallas Buyers Club and his business partner is Rayon, an equally fearless, profane, shrewd trans woman, meaning that Woodroof must work day to day with a person who embodies what he hates and has made him sick.

I enjoyed watching this movie, but I didn't find the movie uplifting, as the DVD cover said I would --not that I needed it to be uplifting.   I never really liked Ron Woodroof, although I deeply admired McConaughey's portrayal of him. Rayon's story was never uplifting. Rayon's drug addiction, progressive illness, and rejection from much of the world disturbed me.  Yes, Woodroof and Rayon learned to work together, but their business partnership and Woodroof's fierce commitment to Rayon's well-being, did not uplift me. The larger picture of the USA in this movie was too intransigent for the movie to leave me feeling uplifted.  I was left with a complex of feelings, mostly anger and disappointment.  Memories of the bewilderment I felt back in the 1980s (and forward) returned, triggered by the overall callousness of governmental response to AIDs.  This movie portrayed that callousness too well to be uplifting, in spite of Ron Woodroof's individual and heroic efforts to fight for his life and help others.

I've read LGBT criticisms of the movie. In my life on the World Wide Web, I read  LGBT perspectives about all sorts of matters quite a bit and I've learned a lot and I take these perspectives very seriously.  Nonetheless,  I am too ignorant to comment on the movie as seen from any LGBT perspective.  I take the criticisms seriously.  I learn from them.  But, I cannot comment as far as agreeing or disagreeing.  I don't know that I'll ever be able to.  I would be repeating others' thoughts, not articulating my own.

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