The Simple Grace of Dallas Buyers Club: Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto Win 2014 Oscars

The 2014 Academy Award Nominations

The Grace of Dallas Buyers Club: Facing Despair and Fear With Simple Humanity

Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto star in Dallas Buyers Club, the story of real-life Texas cowboy Ron Woodroof, whose free-wheeling life was overturned in 1985 when he was diagnosed as HIV-positive and given 30 days to live. McConaughey and Leto’s portrayals in Dallas Buyers Club have been described as this year’s two most transformative and most honored performances. McConaughey won Best Actor at the 2014 Oscars and Leto was named Best Supporting Actor for their staggering performances in Dallas Buyers Club.  McConaughey’s desperation was palpable in the film, a life force that wouldn’t be denied, and Leto’s performance was as seductive and fragile as a butterfly kiss.

Leading up to their Oscar wins, both actors won at SAG, the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Movie Awards, not to mention an almost clean sweep for Leto among the many critics groups who give out these honors. The awards have come for their work in the “little-film-that-could,” in a movie that took 20 years to bring to the screen, that no one wanted to make, that was shot on a tight 24-day schedule for under $5 million and used only available light.

The movie, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, is a sober and unflinchingly brutal look at a man (actually, many men), coping with HIV and AIDS in the 1980s, although it’s not set in New York or San Francisco as we’ve come to expect from most movies about this disease. As the title indicates, we’re placed instead in Texas, dwelling in shabby corners of Dallas. While it’s an unexpected place to find a story like this, the film is based on an uplifting true one.

Dallas Buyers Club tells the story of Ron Woodroof, played by Matthew McConaughey, a Texas electrician and rodeo rider. After receiving a diagnosis of H.I.V. in 1985, Woodroof found himself shunned and ostracized by many of his old friends, and bereft of any government-approved effective medicines.Woodroof took his treatment into his own hands and helped others with the disease obtain medication not legally available in the United States at that time. He found a way to begin importing drugs by means both legal and illegal from far-flung countries and began running a buyers club out of a cheap Dallas motel, with the unlikeliest crew of partners.

Bigoted in the way a rowdy Texan rowdy would have been in 1986, Ron nevertheless found his closest ally in Rayon, a willowy, honey-voiced trans woman played with warmth and grace by Jared Leto. Ron and Rayon have a bickering, eyes-rolling chemistry, which served them well as they carried out the important work that the medical institutions wouldn’t do. In its quiet, restrained manner, the movie becomes a truly heartwarming one. Dallas Buyers Club is a delicate, but largely unsentimental, movie about people doing good deeds. Their shared struggle for dignity and acceptance is a uniquely American story of the transformative power of resilience. In their courageous work confronting the nightmarish terrors presented by the early face of AIDS, Ron and Rayon did not go gently into that good night.

Read more about Dallas Buyers Club in The New York Times here.

Dallas Buyers Club (Official Trailer)

Dallas Buyers Club: Anatomy of a Transformation

The Envelope: McConaughey and Leto Discuss Making Dallas Buyers Club

The Grace of Dallas Buyers Club: Facing Despair and Fear With Simple Humanity

The 2014 Academy Award Nominations

The Grace of Dallas Buyers Club: Facing Despair and Fear With Simple Humanity

Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto star in Dallas Buyers Club, the story of real-life Texas cowboy Ron Woodroof, whose free-wheeling life was overturned in 1985 when he was diagnosed as HIV-positive and given 30 days to live. McConaughey and Leto’s portrayals in Dallas Buyers Club have been described as this year’s two most transformative and most honored performances. Their performances are staggering. McConaughey’s desperation was palpable in the film, a life force that wouldn’t be denied, and Leto’s performance was as seductive and fragile as a butterfly kiss.

Leading up to their Oscar nominations, both actors won at SAG, the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Movie Awards, not to mention an almost clean sweep for Leto among the many critics groups who give out these honors. The awards have come for their work in the “little-film-that-could,” in a movie that took 20 years to bring to the screen, that no one wanted to make, that was shot on a tight 24-day schedule for under $5 million and used only available light.

The movie, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, is a sober and unflinchingly brutal look at a man (actually, many men), coping with HIV and AIDS in the 1980s, although it’s not set in New York or San Francisco as we’ve come to expect from most movies about this disease. As the title indicates, we’re placed instead in Texas, dwelling in shabby corners of Dallas. While it’s an unexpected place to find a story like this, the film is based on an uplifting true one.

Dallas Buyers Club tells the story of Ron Woodroof, played by Matthew McConaughey, a Texas electrician and rodeo rider. After receiving a diagnosis of H.I.V. in 1985, Woodroof found himself shunned and ostracized by many of his old friends, and bereft of any government-approved effective medicines.Woodroof took his treatment into his own hands and helped others with the disease obtain medication not legally available in the United States at that time. He found a way to begin importing drugs by means both legal and illegal from far-flung countries and began running a buyers club out of a cheap Dallas motel, with the unlikeliest crew of partners.

Bigoted in the way a rowdy Texan rowdy would have been in 1986, Ron nevertheless found his closest ally in Rayon, a willowy, honey-voiced trans woman played with warmth and grace by Jared Leto. Ron and Rayon have a bickering, eyes-rolling chemistry, which served them well as they carried out the important work that the medical institutions wouldn’t do. In its quiet, restrained manner, the movie becomes a truly heartwarming one. Dallas Buyers Club is a delicate, but largely unsentimental, movie about people doing good deeds. Their shared struggle for dignity and acceptance is a uniquely American story of the transformative power of resilience. In their courageous work confronting the nightmarish terrors presented by the early face of AIDS, Ron and Rayon did not go gently into that good night.

Read more about Dallas Buyers Club in The New York Times here.

Dallas Buyers Club (Official Trailer)

Dallas Buyers Club: Anatomy of a Transformation

The Envelope: McConaughey and Leto Discuss Making Dallas Buyers Club

Last Address: A Remembrance of Loss

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Last Address: A Remembrance of Loss

Last Address is a quietly elegiac documentary short film by filmmaker Ira Sachs that uses exterior images of the houses, apartment buildings and lofts where a group of New York City artists who died of AIDS were living at the time of their deaths to mark the disappearance of a generation.

Keith Haring, Robert Mapplethorpe, Norman René, Peter Hujar, Ethyl Eichelberger, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Cookie Mueller, Klaus Nomi…the list of New York artists who died of AIDS over the last 30 years is countless, and the loss immeasurable. Last Address is a remembrance of that loss, as well as an evocation of the continued presence of these artists’ works in our lives and culture.

Last Address: A Remembrance of Loss

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World AIDS Day: A Compassionate Commemoration of Loss and Recommitment

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World AIDS Day: A Compassionate Commemoration of Loss and Recommitment

I used to be afraid of dying,
I’m not afraid anymore,
I’m more afraid of what happens,
To the people who live.

Saturday, December 1st, is World AIDS Day 2012, an annual opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against the devastating AIDS pandemic.  It is a day for commemorating the 30 million people who have been lost to AIDS-related causes, to honor the 34 million people presently living with HIV and to recommit ourselves to creating a future without AIDS. From 2011 to 2015, World AIDS Day has the theme, “Getting to zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.”

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Elton John: The Last Song (From “And The Band Played On”)

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Photography by: Thomas Alleman

30 Years From Here: The HIV/AIDS Epidemic’s Impact On Generations

The HIV/AIDS epidemic gets a hard-hitting overview in 30 Years From Here, a poignant documentary that uses personal accounts from victims, activists and medical experts to show how the “nondiscriminatory” disease has shaped and affected their lives over the past three decades. ACT UP founder Larry Kramer and playwright Terrence McNally are just two of the high-profile voices featured in this documentary. In 2012, 30 Years From Here was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

30 Years From Here: The HIV/AIDS Epidemic’s Impact On Generations

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And The Band Played On (1993)

Randy Shilts’ book And the Band Played On was the first critical study of the development of the AIDS epidemic. Insightful, detailed and passionately argued, the book generated tremendous interest as well as a number of controversies, particularly with sections of the text that appeared to be critical of some segments of the gay community. And the Band Played On (1993) is the award-winning docudrama based on Shilts’ book, which includes clips of actual news reports and documentary footage of a number of authentic events, such as a moving, candlelight memorial procession in San Francisco.

And The Band Played On (1993)

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Philadelphia: Lest We Forget

Philadelphia: Lest We Forget

Philadelphia stands as a landmark film in the portrayal of gays, AIDS and homophobia; the film battled long-established social barriers and helped put a heroically human face to the long-suffering gay community. Tom Hanks won a deserved Academy Award for his portrayal of a previously energetic lawyer who wastes away into a gaunt, diseased AIDS victim. Bruce Springsteen also received an Academy Award for Streets of Philadelphia, his first-ever song written for a movie.

Bruce Springsteen: Streets of Philadelphia

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Smutley the Sex-Crazed Cat: Gettin’ Hot Tail!!

Smutley the Sex-Crazed Cat: Gettin’ Hot Tail!!

Gettin’ Tail is a hedonistic three-minute 1920s-style black-and-white animated short film, which was directed by Niklas Rissler and Kevin O’Grady at againstallodds for Passion Pictures. You know about those people who just can’t get enough sex? Well, that’s Smutley the Cat for sure. Smutley does not discriminate, and he really craves all kinds of hedonistic, rough and dirty sexual perversions. Smutley will bareback and have wild unprotected sex with anything on two legs, four hooves or even just a couple of flippers if the situation arises. But he’s only able to do this because he’s a cat with nine lives. The rest of us need to protect ourselves with condoms.

The juxtaposition between the film’s basic style, the story and the music (Bad Reputation by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts) is both unexpected and engaging: it puts a smile on your face while reminding you to do the right thing!

Smutley the Sex-Crazed Cat: Gettin’ Hot Tail!!

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September 11: Never Forget

September 11: Never Forget

The disaster that occurred on September 11, 2001 was the worst in the history of New York City. Not only were nearly 3,000 people killed in Manhattan, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on that morning; they were victims of a premeditated act of mass murder that pioneered the use of hijacked passenger jets as suicide bombs and then reordered and distorted the decade that followed.

For those in the immediate vicinity, the horror was immediate and unmistakable; it occurred in what we have learned to call real time, and in real space. Those farther away, whether a few dozen blocks or halfway around the world, witnessed the horrors through the long lens of television.The sense of grief and shock, a terrible roaring in the mind of every American, made it impossible to assess the larger damage that Osama bin Laden and his fanatics had inflicted, the extent to which they had succeeded in shattering our self-possession. In the years after 9/11, many still can hardly erase the vision of the wreckage of the two towers, the twisted steel and sheets of glass, the images of men and women leaping from ninety-odd stories up and the knowledge that thousands lay beneath the ruined buildings.

The New York Times has assembled and posted more than two hours of military, air traffic, and airline radio communications, some of it never before heard in public, from the morning of September 11, 2001. Threaded into vivid narratives covering each of the four doomed airliners, the multimedia document contains 114 recordings of air traffic controllers, military aviation officers, airline and fighter jet pilots, as well as two of the hijackers, stretching across two hours of that that morning. It is depressing, but totally engrossing and fascinating. Viewers may listen to the complete audio collection here.

A Look Back at How September 11 Unfolded

Remembering Father Mychal Judge, The Saint of 9/11

On Sunday, September 4th, marchers turned out by the hundreds in New York City to honor the memory of the Rev. Mychal Judge, the beloved FDNY chaplain killed on 9/11. Firefighters and their families, friends of the Franciscan priest, and well-wishers from near and far, all came together for a four-hour Walk of Remembrance through the streets of Manhattan. Father Judge, commemorated as The Saint of 9/11, was killed while giving last rites to a firefighter at the World Trade Center. The group walked from midtown to Ground Zero, stopping at firehouses and police precincts along the way to pray and read the names of the 9/11 dead.

The Saint of 9/11 (Full Version of the Movie)

Photo-Gallery: September 11/Never Forget

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