I saw that rarest of media creations over the weekend, something more rare than an 85-degree day in New York City in January.
More rare than a Cleveland Browns Super Bowl win.
More rare than Alec Baldwin acting like a sane human being when there’s a photographer around.
Last weekend I saw a good Matthew McConaughey movie.
Yep, the male Ken doll with the perfect teeth, great body and great hair has spent most of his career making one crappy film after another in my opinion, but looks like he’s finally got a winner and shown off his acting chops.
“Dallas Buyers Club” is a terrific, a real absorbing, brilliantly-acted and so well-written story of the life of Ron Woodroff, a Texas electrician who in 1985 was diagnosed with AIDS. A more unlikely AIDS champion you could not find, Woodruff manages to fight the FDA on their delay of life-saving AIDS drugs by going into business importing “alternative” medicines that end up doing a whole world of good for thousands of people.
McConaughey is really terrific as Woodroff, showing a man who changes from being only out for himself (his behavior the first 30 minutes of the flick is truly abhorrent) to making a ton of money while actually doing good. The FDA is an enormous government entity tangled in red tape, and especially when it came to the HIV virus moved incredibly slowly.
Jared Leto is Oscar-worthy as Woodroff’s partner in crime, a transsexual AIDS patient who initially is just a pawn in Woodroff’s game, but becomes much more. Jennifer Garner, usually pretty “blah” in movies, is good here, and the script is truly wonderful; you get to know these characters as human beings caught in a terrible situation, not knowing if they’re going to live or die.
The awful epidemic of AIDS in the ’80s has spawned a ton of great movies, plays and TV shows, like “The Normal Heart” and the great documentary “How To Survive a Plague.”
“Dallas Buyers Club” deserves to be a part of that rich history. And hey, if Matthew McConaughey can make a great movie, there must be icicles forming in hell as we speak.
**Next up, this is another one of these videos that may or may not be fake, but it’s so funny I don’t care. A Dallas man was leaving a voicemail for his boss telling him he’d be late to work when he witnesses an accident between one man and a car-ful of old ladies. Listen to his hilarious play-by-play (it gets good about 30 seconds in); I think this proves that hearing someone laugh uncontrollably while describing it makes anything three times funnier.
**Finally today, this story made me say “Hallelujah!”
I’ve long believed that one of the problems in our society today is the “over-congratulating” of young people, giving everyone a trophy and a pat on the back for everything, and the syndrome is at its worst in some schools as well.
I may have told this story here before, but as a student teacher two years ago I was so dismayed when, after grading several students fairly (and poorly) for shoddy work on their essays, I was told by my mentor teacher that I “had to change their grades; you can’t give them scores that low.”
It’s insulting and wrong when we continue to publicize and highlight and praise everyone, because it takes away from the kids who truly excel.
Anyway, I’m rambling, but this story is a great example of some pushback. A mother in Florida was confused when her 7th-grade son brought home a report card telling him he made the honor roll, when he had a D and a C on it.
The mom brought it to the school principal’s attention, and Kim Anderson of Pasco Middle School agreed wholeheartedly, acknowledging that having 50 percent of her students make the honor roll isn’t exactly right.
The kid’s mom, Beth Tillack, said it perfectly:
“The bottom line is there’s nothing honorable about making a D,” said Tillack. “I was not happy, because how can I get my child to study for a test when he thinks he’s done enough?”