Robert Tanitch reviews the latest DVDs
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (Entertainment One). Jean Marc Vallee’s film won Oscars for best director, best screenplay, best actor and best supporting actor. Should the terminally ill be allowed to take whatever drugs they like, even if they are untested and not approved by the medical profession?
Ron Woodruff, a homophobic rodeo cowboy, is told he is HIV positive and has 30 days to live. He takes on the doctors, Big Business and the FDA and smuggles drugs into the US. Matthew McConaughey’s performance of a hell-raising opportunist instantly puts him in another league.
A totally emaciated Jared Leto (playing a transgender activist) really does look as if he has AIDS.
Her remarkable and powerful black and white photographs of world-famous people appeared regularly in The Observer newspaper. Much admired by professionals, Jane Bown “finds” photographs; she does not “take” photographs.
Gentle but never sentimental, accurate but never crude, her portraits are always respectful. The documentary has a superb selection of her oeuvre.
BONNIE AND CLYDE (Sony). The two notorious criminals can still draw the crowds eighty years after their death in the same way that thousands turned up for their respective funerals in 1934. There have been many versions of their bank robberies and murders.
This mini TV series, inevitably, suffers by comparison. It hasn’t the panache, energy and wit of the 1967 film, a hard cinematic act to follow. Director Bruce Beresford isn’t William Penn and Emile Hirsch and Holiday Grainger haven’t got the charisma of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway; but then neither had Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.
OUT OF THE FURNACE (Lionsgate). Director Scott Cooper’s brutal thriller, involving gambling debts, bare knuckle boxing, deer hunting, murder and revenge, is set in the run-down town of Braddock and the lawless forest hills of Pennsylvania. I was reminded of The Deer Hunter and Deliverance.
A strong cast is headed by Christian Bale as the good guy (a really good guy) and it is his acting and also the acting of Woody Harrelson as the bad guy (really bad, manically so), Willem Dafoe, Sam Shephard and Casey Afleck, which will keep audiences watching.
LAW AND DISORDER (Network). The combination of screenwriter TEB Clarke and director Charles Crichton raise expectations that it will be another Ealing Comedy. Michael Redgrave is cast as a confidence trickster, who has been in practically every prison in Britain, retires; but he is soon at it again.
Since Robert Morley is playing the Judge, you expect the Judge will end up in prison, too. As always, the pleasure of old British films is that every cameo role is cast with a well-known face.
There was a repertory of actors in the 1950s in constant employment and cinemagoers in those days knew them all.