The first movie up this month is the much-lauded Dallas Buyers Club (February 7). This semi-autobiographical drama, starring a super-skinny Matthew McConaughey, follows rodeo cowboy Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) after he’s given just 30 days to live following a positive HIV diagnosis.
After bribing his way on a clinical trial for a new HIV drug – the only one approved by the governmental drugs regulatory board – Woodroof meets Rayon (an emaciated Jared Leto), a trans woman with Aids, whom he immediately hates. When it becomes clear the drug is actually worsening his condition, Woodroof heads down Mexico, where a disgraced American doctor prescribes medication that, although not approved in the US, is highly effective.
When Ron realises there’s money in them there pills (sorry), he begins importing the drugs from Mexico himself and, with Rayon’s help, establishes the ‘Dallas Buyers Club’. The rest is the stuff Oscars are made of.
Next up, and featuring a cubic ton of voice talent (Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, Elizabeth Banks to name a few), is The Lego Movie (February 14) an animated film, based on a toy (and a video game, sort-of), based on a self-help book aimed at clingy children. Just kidding!
The plot centres on ordinary Lego man (or ‘minifig’ in Lego lexicon) Emmet (voiced by Parks and Rec‘s Chris Pratt) who is mistaken for the last ‘Special’: a master builder who can freestyle Lego designs like jazzy, yellow Frank Lloyd Wright. When Emmet discover he’s the only one who can save the Lego-verse that’s just what he sets out to do, overcoming chronic low self esteem and undiagnosed jaundice in the process. Yay!
But is The Lego Movie cynical cross-platform gouging, or merely an inevitability in a world in which Lego has been one of the most popular children’s toys for 60 years? Whatever the answer, it also happens to be that rarest of beasts: a movie for children that won’t send their adult chaperones into a state of catatonia.
Lastly this month, The Monuments Men (February 14) which seems to be a sort-of WW2 Argo, except with priceless artworks instead of American hostages, and Matt Damon instead of Ben Affleck.
Based on a true story, George Clooney and some elder Hollywood bit-players (a list that now includes John Goodman, sadly) play a group of art experts tasked with entering Germany during the last gasp of war and saving as Manet Monets as they can before the Nazis get to ‘em. The assembled bunch of museum curators and art historians head deep into occupied territory with the aim of saving priceless art for future generations and sticking it to Hitler. Those determined docents!