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My Matthew McConaughey Mini-Film Festival

Suzanne and I often watch television in the evening when we’re home – which is all the time this year. We’ve been mostly watching series – lately Queen’s Gambit, Schitt’s Creek and Call My Agent (or Dix Pour Cent, if you prefer it without subtitles.) Last week Suzanne was busy with one of her other projects so I needed to find something else to watch. I didn’t want to get started on another series so I figured I would watch a few films. The problem is that there are so many movies available that I find myself paralyzed with indecision.

So, to avoid spending a half hour sorting through the options on Netflix, Amazon, Showtime, HBO, etc. I decided to create my own mini-film festival featuring Matthew McConaughey. Probably because we look so similar. That’s a joke. I’m actually a good half inch taller than Matt, according to his bio. Although I find it interesting that he is listed as 5’11 ½” – I think most men, and especially actors, would stretch the truth to six foot. So maybe he’s only 5’11”. Anyway, he seems like an interesting guy, so he got the call.

McConaughey made a film that garnered a Rotten Tomato score of 93% (Dallas Buyer’s Club) and another (Surfer Dudes) that was given a score of 0%. That show’s great range. Or really bad judgement on film selection. I had four days, so I picked four films. My only criteria were that they had to be free (to me). I pay enough to Xfinity and so I wasn’t renting any movies.

The first day, I picked a film that I had seen before – The Lincoln Lawyer.

I had forgotten most of it, so I was able to enjoy it all over again. It’s adapted from a story by Michael Connelly (he wrote the Bosch series, among other crime dramas) and it has Marisa Tomei as Matt’s ex-wife. The premise is that McConaughey is a lawyer who operates out of his Lincoln Towne Car, defending drug dealing bikers and other underclass characters. Snappy dialogue and skillfully plotted. A solid cast with Ryan Philippe, Francis Fisher and Trace Adkins as a very believable Hells Angel type. Rotten Tomatoes score was 83%.

On day two, I watched The Free State of Jones. Newton Knight (McConaughey) is a small, non-slave-owning Mississippi farmer who deserts the Confederate Army in disgust after his 14 year-old cousin is killed while soldiers whose families owned at least twenty slaves are allowed to return to their home. He pledges loyalty to the Union and ends up leading a rebellion against the Confederacy. Based on my Wikipedia research the film is a fairly accurate account of a fascinating story. It only got a Rotten Tomato rating of 47%, probably because the story doesn’t have a great arc. There’s no climactic victory or defeat. Worth watching.

I saved Dallas Buyers Club for day three because I thought Suzanne might be available to watch it but she wasn’t. McConaughey won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Ron Woodruff, an AIDS activist. Jared Leto, who plays a transgender woman, won the Best Supporting Actor. Woodruff, a blue collar, redneck Dallas electrician is diagnosed with AIDS and establishes a club to provide drugs that don’t meet FDA approval, but offer dying patients symptomatic relief and life extension. It’s a powerful story of courage and resilience. The transformation of McConaughey’s appearance for this role Is amazing – he must have lost thirty pounds. His performance was totally believable. Rotten Tomato score of 93%.

So yesterday was the grand finale. I picked Killer Joe because it had a high rating and was based on a play by Tracy Letts. Looked like a sure thing. I didn’t realize it had an NC-17

rating when it was released because of the sexual situations and violence. I watched it on TubiTv, which is not something I had ever used before. It has commercials, but it was not obtrusive.

The story is about a young man who hires Killer Joe (McConaughey) to kill his mother so he can collect her insurance to pay off the thugs to whom he owes money. He’s a hapless loser with an attractive, innocent sister (Juno Temple) who draws Joe’s attention.

I think I would have enjoyed the story more as a play because that would have tempered some of the more violent scenes. Perhaps it was just too much to watch this week, but after Joe graphically punches Gina Gershon in the face, I gave up. The film is described as darkly comic, but it was lot more dark than comic for me. It has an excellent cast and McConaughey’s performance is stellar. I just didn’t want to watch him, so I turned it off. Not the best ending to my film festival. Maybe I should watched Surfer Dudes. It might have been interesting to see what 0% looks like.

Rotten Tomatoes gave Killer Joe a 79% rating so maybe it just's me.

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