It is very cold; winter has whooshed in and taken over. The streets were so icy today, I watched an NDP canvasser on Spruce Street do a balletic spill. I’m glad he was not hurt; I wish him no ill, even if I’m not voting for his party. This time.
I’m usually not one for Oscar bets, but I am going to make mine right now – Cate Blanchett for Best Actress for “Blue Jasmine”, and for Best Actor – Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyers Club,” which I saw this afternoon with friend Jean-Marc. lt’s a powerful, beautifully made, gorgeously acted film, directed with great skill, I’m proud to say, by French-Canadian Jean-Marc Vallée, Oscar material himself. It’s based on the true story of a homophobic Texas badass, Ron Woodroof, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1985 and took the matter of his medical treatment into his own hands. I’ve just checked, and though the Woodroof character is absolutely true, some of the other characters, especially his eventual partner in his drug buying club, a transsexual played with enormous compassion and skill by Jared Leto – who will ever forget him as every teen girl’s heartthrob, Jordan Catalano, in “My so-called life”? – are invented by the screenwriters.
Well, it works. It brings back that frightening time in the mid-eighties, when gay men were dying and we were all terrified. It reminded me again how much we lost, how many incredibly talented men, including many of my own friends in the theatre. I even wondered, for the first time, about myself – just before the AIDS pandemic hit, I was in the theatre and sexually active – I might easily have been infected. It’s my own luck all that stopped when I fell in love in January 1980. Jean-Marc, on the way home, said that his and his partner Richard’s lives were saved because they were so slow to come out.
We’ve been thinking of Kennedy on this 50th anniversary, how his death was the first world-wide television tragedy. But the dawning of AIDS in the 80’s was also a first – though the world had been afflicted with plagues for eons, this was the first to land so publicly in our lives, and the first so politically fraught – our society had not yet come to terms with homosexuality. The most moving scene in the film, so quick you almost miss it, is when the Jared Leto character, who is dying, dresses in a man’s suit and goes to visit his father, a big politician or lawyer, to beg for money. A stunning little scene, from a very, very fine film.
And then out, into the bitterly cold night. Dear readers, it’s 7.30 on a Saturday night; I’m sitting, as usual, in the kitchen with the crabby cat tucked in beside me, there’s snow on the deck outside the door, “Breathless” is on TV later tonight, but first, Randy Bachman’s rockin’ radio show is on, and now I will cook while listening. Unlike so many of my beloved actor friends, I am alive.
It doesn’t get better than this.