I managed to take in three exceptionally good movies while I was in Kansas City last week. The first was a British romantic comedy called About Time. The plot line involves a family whose men develop the ability to travel back in time when they reach adulthood. There are no big time leaps because the travelers can only travel back within their own lifetimes. When Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) learns that he has this ability, he decides to use it to get a girlfriend. As he proceeds to develop a relationship with Mary (Rachael McAdams), he makes several trips back in time to iron out difficulties as they arise - and leaving the audience to conclude that the only things holding us back from having perfect lives are small missteps. About Time is engaging and presents a cast of characters who are easy to care about - and it is built around a very clever premise.
The Dallas Buyer's Club features Matthew McConaughey as an AIDS patient who has misgivings about the medical treatment that he is being given. Not having the time to wait for a cure or for FDA approval of promising treatments, he begins doing his own research on the disease and travels the world to find processes and products that will extend and enhance his life. As his research and international medical contacts grow, he incorporates into a buyers' club from which he shares what he has learned and procured through a process of selling memberships. He is practicing retail - not medicine.
This is a very edgy role for Mr. McConaughey, and puts one in mind of the role that Tom Hanks played in Philadelphia. McConaughey has been stretching his acting abilities over the past couple of years with roles in a challenging lineup of movies including Killer Joe, Mud, The Paperboy, Magic Mike, and Lincoln Lawyer.
The third movie that I saw in Kansas City was Kill Your Darlings, a drama based on a friendship between a small group of young writers at Columbia University in the late 1940's. The group included the poet, Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliff), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster), Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), and David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall). As the young men struggle to provide new direction to literature, they also are coming to terms with their sexuality - a challenging process that leads to a murder within the group. It is a coming of age story told in a unique set of circumstances.
These were exceptionally good movies - but not ones that have seen wide release. They are worth seeking out.