Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

So... Is it odd to watch Brokeback Mountain and come away most impressed with some of the women in it? Between this and The Baxter (which I didn't even particularly like), I'm growing quite fond of Michelle Williams. Backing off trying to be a traditional skinny blonde knockout is really working for her. Similarly, I was hugely pleased to see Kate Mara at the end; she made a great impression on me on Jack & Bobby. Sure, I'm partial to the freckly redheads anyway, but I'm still pretty sure she's something special.

This is one I put off seeing for a while - once I saw the Oscar nominations and realized I'd be spending a chunk of March working on moving, I realized that the usual Oscar catch-up wasn't going to happen this year. I also got stuck in the rut where I'd look at the schedules and it would be at an awkward time or I just really didn't feel like that kind of movie right then. I wound up with a MovieWatcher reward ticket that needed to be used that night and not wanting to get further from home than Harvard Square (there was, after all, the World Baseball Classic and 24 to see afterward) Hopefully passing on this to see Ultraviolet taught me a valuable lesson about how a good movie, even if it's not the particular genre or tone you're looking to see, is a better use of time and money than, well, crap.

One note to the folks at the Harvard Square theater: Change your trailers. There was a trailer for Cassanova on the front of this which, I think, has been, gone, and had its DVD release date announced. I think that there was one for Thank You For Smoking as well, and I think that came out this weekend (or is that just for New York/LA)?

Brokeback Mountain

* * * * (out of four)
Seen 20 March 2006 at the AMC Harvard Square #1 (First-run)

Brokeback Mountain is a remarkable film, and I expect it will remain one even after its notoriety passes. There will come a time, twenty years or so from now, when love stories involving two men will appear in theaters unremarked upon, and when that time comes, I think this film will still be remembered as more than one of the first movies to focus on two men in love to solidly enter the mainstream consciousness; it will be remembered as a being noteworthy even outside the cultural context of 2005 America.

It focuses, as most probably know by now, on two cowboys who find themselves attracted to each other while herding sheep on an isolated mountain in 1963 Wyoming. Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) is an orphan and man of few words and little formal education; he dropped out of high school after a year to start working. He's due to get married in the fall. Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) is more gregarious, preferring rodeos to ranching. Over the course of the summer, mostly isolated from the world except for weekly grocery deliveries and an encounter with another flock, they grow close, and their relationship makes the jump from camaraderie to the physical when drink and weather prompts them to share the tent.

The job ends. Time passes. Ennis marries Alma (Michelle Williams), and they have two daughters. Jack eventually meets Lureen Newsome (Anne Hathaway), marries her, going to work for her father and fathering a son of his own. He's still clearly looking at other guys, but Ennis doesn't seem to be. One could almost think Ennis had just been lonely on the mountaintop until Jack passes through town and suddenly Ennis is all over Jack before having time to think it might be a good idea to get where Alma can't accidentally see them. She does, but keeps quiet; it poisons their marriage, especially once Ennis and Jack get in the habit of meeting each other for "fishing trips" every few months.

Read the rest at HBS.

Next up: Night One of the Boston Underground Film Festival, which, thanks to the fun of writing without an internet connection, will be in the books by the time I post this.

(But I'll back date this to 7:05 pm, when I finished writing it offline. Because I'd be sneaky if I didn't insist on typing things like the preceeding paragraph.)

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