BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN: I may have to turn in my gay card after this post, but, as usual, I'm not going to hold back: I thought Brokeback Mountain was only so-so. It was WAY too long, a little repetitive and often tedious. That said, Heath Ledger definitely deserves an Oscar nomination, although I'm rooting for Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote.

For those who don' t know, Brokeback Mountain is about two cowboys who meet in 1963 while herding sheep at said mountain and begin a 20 year, clandestine love affair. They both marry women and have children and meet a few times every year for "fishing trips" up at Brokeback Mountain. It's those "fishing trips" that slow the plot, when they should send it to fever pitch. I thought Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger had very little chemistry. For once, I wanted to see more sex...anything to show these two had some bond that could stretch 20 years and cause so much havoc in their lives. I wanted less panoramic vistas of the Midwest and more character detail. At two hours plus, the middle of the film slows to glacial speed, so by the time the sad finale arrives, all I could feel was relief.

Ledger's Ennis Del Mar is the more finely drawn character and is played beautifully. Del Mar is so cold and reserved on the surface, his mumbled words so few, that when raw emotion cracks the surface it's painful to witness. On the other hand, Gyllenhaal plays Jack Twist as the total opposite...a wild, carefree type, who gets positively whiney about wanting to shack up at a ranch of their own. I was hoping that Jack would be the one who would stand up and say, "I don't care what people think," or "I'm gay and I love you," but this never happens. He marries a woman and pleasures himself with male prostitutes in Mexico instead. I know there was a partial disconnect because you got next to nothing as far as backstory on Jack. Luckily, Ennis does have a history and that is brought into play throughout the film. You do get a glimpse of what has made Ennis so remote, and it's chilling. The film really does belong to Ledger's character, and everytime it switched to Gyllenhaal, I got bored. What drove these men to be together? I wanted to see it unfolding, rather than being force fed by the screenplay and Ang Lee's attempt to make this a "universal" love story. I know he was trying to explode some of the myths and stereotypes, but Lee fails rather miserably.

I've fallen for a couple of Ennis Del Mars in my time...maybe that's why this movie seemed a bit "been there, done that" for me. I can think of two guys who were quite willing to let themselves be seduced, but when it came time to commitment or being emotionally honest, they went right back to Straightsville. Maybe that's the other problem I have with this film. Once again, it shows that homosexuality is something to be hidden and unexpressed and it will lead you down the path of despair. The Christian right-wing nutcases have nothing to fear in this film...it might actually work a bit in their favor. I wanted at least one of them to come to terms with their feelings and say something...say anything...about their love. Instead, it's all repressed, bleak and tragic. I don't mind a little tragedy or even a little repression, if there is some redemption in the end.

Admittedly, I've never read Annie Proulx's source material for this film. I'm going to search it out to see how the translation from page to film might have affected the storytelling.

Comments

Anonymous said…
yes, read the story! it's amazing and heartbreaking. merry xmas!
Anonymous said…
p.s. i totally agree on the movie... kind of a letdown. maybe i shoulda managed my expectations little better. p.s. don't waste 3 hours of your life on "kind kong"
Peter said…
It's OK Collin. You don't have to turn in your gay card (yet). But you are on probation! LOL.

I loved the movie. But to each his own. xo
shamanic said…
Once again, it shows that homosexuality is something to be hidden and unexpressed and it will lead you down the path of despair.

Funny, I got the complete opposite from the film; that keeping a love hidden and unexpressed will lead you down the path of despair.

I wonder if this is a gender thing though. Karen and I loved the film and both wept openly at the conclusion, so maybe it really is a chick flick with a hook for the gay male friends. :)
Collin said…
I've heard the film described as a "chick flick," but didn't really see it that way.

It's true, that any type of love kept hidden can you lead you to despair, but not necessarily to the side of a road with an angry mob wielding crowbars.

The conclusion of the film was moving...no doubt about that, although I still have no idea what Heath Ledger's character mumbled in that final moment. Neither could any of my friends. Any guesses?
shamanic said…
No clue. I actually went Googling for the script to try to figure it out, but haven't found it.

Another mystery: just what did Bill Murray's character tell Scarlett Johanson's character at the end of Lost in Translation?
Collin said…
I love that you have no idea what Bill Murray whispers to Scarlett at the end of Lost In Translation. LOVE IT! It leaves you to decide what will happen to them. Will they meet up again in America? Was he saying goodbye one last time? Or that he loved her? Sigh.

On the other hand, I think we should know what Ennis says at the end of Brokeback Mountain. I think it's crucial.
Anonymous said…
a lot of the dialogue comes straight from the annie proulx story -- at the end of the story, when ennis opens the closet with the shirts and postcard, she writes: "He stepped back and looked at the ensemble through a few stinging tears. 'Jack, I swear--' he said, though Jack had never asked him to swear anything and was himself not the swearing kind."

...does that help?
Collin said…
That does help, Mr/Ms. Anonymous. Thank you. :)
BlueTattoo said…
Capote is one of the best movies of its kind to have come along in years; Hoffman deserves the Oscar.

Brokeback mountain has set the gay community back a step, in my opinion. I found it cliche-ridden and condescending towards the lifestyle when a few well-placed and well-played reality bites might have served the tale better.

The best thing by far in BB was the performance thrown out by Michelle Williams...stunning.

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