Matthew McConaughey, looking like a waxen Marlboro Man, stars as Ron Woodroof, a real-life Texan who was infected with AIDS in the mid-80s and defied his doctors’ death sentence by smuggling great quantities of unlicensed pharmaceuticals into the U.S. Critics are praising this drama for its flashy performances by McConaughey, whose homophobic character is softened by his experience, and Jared Leto, as a transgender man who becomes first his antagonist and then his ally; like the Tom Hanks-Denzel Washington relationship in Philadelphia (1993), their growing fellowship is supposed to provide an entry point for socially conservative viewers, though one wonders if that’s really necessary at this point. I was more impressed by the larger story, detailing the nationwide network of “buyers clubs” that distributed cutting-edge treatments to subscribers; however creaky this might be as drama, it’s a fascinating look at an underground economy and the politics of medicine. Jean-Marc Vallee (The Young Victoria) directed a screenplay by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack; with Jennifer Garner, Denis O’Hare, Steve Zahn, and Griffin Dunne.