Thoughts on “Dallas Buyers Club”

Sometimes, I just have to ignore the fact that some movies are R rated (i.e. people below the age of 18 can watch the movie; I’m 17) because critics say they’re good.  In Hong Kong, movies such as Dallas Buyers Club and The Wolf of Wall Street are what we call Class III — our equivalent of R rated.  In such cases, we have to present our ID cards and whatnot…that is, unless we’re super tall and can be easily passed of for a 20-year old when you’re really 13.  Then again, we Asians are stereotypically short.

Context: several movies premiere really…late…in Hong Kong.  Usually, most movies (especially the Oscar-nominated ones that are considered ‘obscure’ due to the lack of an ensemble cast) will show approximately a few months after its original premiere in the US or the UK, and probably the rest of the world.  When Dallas Buyers Club was nominated for not only one, but several other Oscar, it premiered in Hong Kong roughly a month before the Oscar telecast.  So yeah, we were a few months late.  This is…also the case for the other Oscar-nominated movies, like The Wolf of Wall Street or Nebraska, and even 12 Years a Slave.  I swear, the only movie (?) that premiered at a ‘normal time’ was Gravity.  Enough of that.

When my parents went to watch Dallas Buyers Club a few weeks ago (there was a limited screening: it showed at only one theatre in Hong Kong then), they came back saying that their ‘money was on the movie for the Oscars.’  Mom was conflicted between Dallas Buyers Club and Nebraska after watching the latter a week later, but Dad was adamant.  This was the case even after they watched all nine of the Oscar nominated films of 2014, so I rest my case if you’re going to start a debate; mind you, I’ve only watched 3 of them so far, including the subject of this post.  The point is, their positive feedback of the movie (and Mom’s apparent 5-minute “crush” on Jared Leto after finding him on Wikipedia) prompted me to desperately want to watch it at some point of my life.  Like any member of the 21st century (cough), I didn’t torrent it online.  Instead, Dad somehow bought it off iTunes with a gift card he got for Christmas.  I didn’t know this until today, so I decided to grab my chance.

I won’t give an extensive ‘review’ about the movie because I’m really not in the position to do so; I also don’t want to have any spoilers.  I’m really just going to express my thoughts about it from the perspective of a movie-lover who watched a movie she wasn’t supposed to watch and is proud of it because damn, she really loved that film.

I usually try to watch movies with an open mind, especially when I’ve already read the reviews or have heard feedback from other people like my parents (I tend to trust their opinions because they’re a few of the most avid movie watchers I know).  How do I know that I’ve enjoyed the movie while keeping an open mind, though?  It’s an odd…thing I do: usually, I eat while watching movies.  If I’m at the cinema, it’s popcorn; if I’m at home, it’s…well, anything from a sandwich I hastily put together or some instant noodles I threw into a pot.  If I’m enjoying the movie, whatever I’m meant to eat is left virtually uneaten because I find myself so…absorbed into the film.  And vice versa.  It’s just a pattern my brother observed in the past couple of years…

For starters, I don’t really understand why Dallas Buyers Club needs to be an R rated film.  Is it because of the sex and the vulgarity?  That, I understand.  To be honest, I don’t really know how this rating system works; I can only comply or complain.  Considering the subject matter — smuggling unapproved (“not illegal”) drugs because it has shown to improve symptoms of AIDS — it probably is a touchy topic for kids.  I mean, we don’t want them to learn how to smuggle drugs, do we?  But there’s this one quote that really speaks to me, and I really think it should speak to its audience: “I only got one life.  I want it to mean something.”  Gradually, it’s what the whole Dallas Buyers Club turned out to be: to dare to fight back the impossible because it can give your life meaning.

I like that.

The point is, I turned off Dad’s iPad feeling…good.  About life.  About myself.  Sure, I’m not an AIDs patient, or even anyone who’s suffering from a terminal illness of some sort.  As cliched as all this may seem…here I am, living in Hong Kong with my whole life ahead of me.  For now, I’m studying to continue on my path of education; but where will it go from there?  What will I become?  What will I do?  I don’t know the purpose of my life, and perhaps I never will.  But even in this uncertainty, I want to die knowing that I’ve lived for something.  To know that I’m done something meaningful.

Life is full of its ups and downs, but there are (or were) people who fought for their right to live, even when they knew that it was almost over.  There are people out there, knowing that they’re dying and will not have the chance to live the full life they’d want to.  Yet, they’re still fighting to make the best of what they got.  When it comes to me…I don’t even know what I got.  I don’t know when this life is going to end.  But that shouldn’t stop me from living, because life can start now.  Sometimes, I just have to remember that this is the only life I’m going to live, which is why I have to make it count.

It makes me appreciate life so much more.

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