Thursday, January 16, 2014

Life According to Sam (2013)

Documentary Website.

What is aging in Sam Berns, is aging in all of us. But in Sam’s body, the process is rapidly accelerated. When Sam was diagnosed with progeria at age two, his parents, Dr. Leslie Gordon and Dr. Scott Berns refused to accept that they would lose their son by age 13, the average age of death of a child with this disease. Eleven years later, Sam is 13 and his parents’ incredible race to save their son, has led to testing the first experimental drug that might prolong the lives of Sam and 28 other children from around the world that share this disease. Their discoveries may one day shed light on unlocking the aging process in us all. Life According to Sam is an inspiring film about the power of family and how we make the most of our lives in the time we are given.

Sam Berns died at age 17 on January 10, 2014.  See: Sam Berns/C2S.

This is an HBO film.  I will try to find out how to obtain a copy. Not available on NetFlix yet.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Netflix:Loosely based on true events, this drama follows Ron Woodroof, who refuses to accept he'll die in 30 days when he's diagnosed with AIDS in 1986. He extends his life and eventually helps many other AIDS patients by smuggling medications from abroad.

From the Web: A son of Texas, Ron Woodroof is an electrician and rodeo cowboy. In 1985, he is well into an unexamined existence with a devil-may-care lifestyle. Suddenly, Ron is blindsided by being diagnosed as H.I.V.-positive and given 30 days to live. Yet he will not, and does not, accept a death sentence. His crash course of research reveals a lack of approved treatments and medications in the U.S., so Ron crosses the border into Mexico. There, he learns about alternative treatments and begins smuggling them into the U.S., challenging the medical and scientific community including his concerned physician, Dr. Eve Saks. An outsider to the gay community, Ron finds an unlikely ally in fellow AIDS patient Rayon, a transsexual who shares Ron's lust for life. Rayon also shares Ron's entrepreneurial spirit: seeking to avoid government sanctions against selling non-approved medicines and supplements, they establish a "buyers club," where H.I.V.-positive people pay monthly dues for access to the newly acquired supplies. Deep in the heart of Texas, Ron's pioneering underground collective beats loud and strong. With a growing community of friends and clients, Ron fights for dignity, education, and acceptance. In the years following his diagnosis, the embattled Lone Star loner lives life to the fullest like never before.  (2013.  117 minutes)

DJE: The Dallas Buyers Club highlights the roadblocks the FDA placed for patients to get needed care and the greed of PhRMA and many physician "researchers" who benefited from the drugs they were developing.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gun Hill Road (2011)

Gun Hill Road played at Images Cinema (Williamstown, MA) on November 11, 2013.  It is a powerful, sometimes dark and painful story of a trans-sexual youth in a gritty NY neighborhood.  The film is sensitively done, moving and instructive.  The following is taken from the trailer.  If you are interested in these topics, rent it from Netflix.

About the Film

Gun Hill Road is the story of a family in transition. It is the story of a young man exploring his sexuality in an intolerant and judgmental world and his exploration's impact on his relationship with his parents and himself.

A film by writer/director Rashaad Ernesto Green, Gun Hill Road was a finalist for the esteemed Jury Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and played at festivals globally in Spring 2011.

Starring Esai Morales (La Bamba, "Caprica") and Judy Reyes ("Scrubs"), and introducing Harmony Santana, Gun Hill Road will open theatrically on August 5, 2011.


After three years in prison, Enrique (Esai Morales) returns home to the Bronx to find the world he knew has changed. His wife, Angela (Judy Reyes), struggles to hide an emotional affair, and his teenage son, Michael (Harmony Santana), explores a sexual transformation well beyond Enrique's grasp and understanding.

Unable to accept his child, Enrique clings to his masculine ideals while Angela attempts to hold the family together by protecting Michael. Still under the watchful eye of his parole officer (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.), Enrique must become the father he needs to be or, once again, risk losing his family and freedom.

Can a father's fierce love for his family overcome his street-hardened ideas about manhood and end the vicious cycle controlling his life? Writer/director Rashaad Ernesto Green's first feature film is an intricate portrait of a family divided told with sensitivity, gentle humor, and a deep understanding of the environment that shapes its people.

2011 86 minutes.  Available on Netflix.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Edie and Thea: A Very Long Engagement (2009)

Forty-two years of romance, struggle and shared adventures finally culminate in marriage for lifelong lesbian couple Edie and Thea, who met in the 1960s and stayed together through the turbulent decades of activism and social change that followed. Looking at pictures from their past, the women marvel at simple triumphs -- buying their first house together -- and reminisce about the constant fear of exposure they once felt.   2009  61 minutes

Thea was disabled due to multiple sclerosis which adds another dimension to this movie.

This is a gentle, moving documentary.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Unnatural Causes... is inequity making us sick (2008)

UNNATURAL CAUSES in a 7-part series bundled into 4 viewing hours  that goes beyond popular conceptions linking health to medical care, lifestyles and genes to explore evidence of other more powerful determinants: the social conditions in which we are born, live and work.

 It is a powerful documentary that is comprised of the following episodes:

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Under Our Skin (2008)

"In the 1970s, a mysterious and deadly illness began infecting children in a small town in Connecticut. Today it's a widespread epidemic. A real-life thriller, this shocking festival hit exposes the controversy surrounding chronic Lyme disease. Following the stories of individuals fighting for their lives, director Andy Abrahams Wilson reveals with beauty and horror a natural world out of balance and a human nature all too willing to put profits before patients." Netflix

I found this film disturbing and a bit sensational.  It may scare some patients unnecessarily.  I would be reluctant to recommend it without reservations.  Certainly, the number of patients with chronic Lymde disease is smaller than one would be led to believe from watching this "selective" documentary.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Music Never Stopped (2011)

Nearly 20 years after their son ran away from home, his estranged parents learn he has a brain tumor that prevents him from forming new memories. Desperate to reconnect, the father realizes the best way is through the classic rock music he despises.  2011  105 minutes

This is a very moving film.  It speaks to the power of music to heal and to music and memory.  It's based on a story written by Oliver Sacks:  "The Last Hippie."