Brokeback Mountain


Brokeback Mountain movie posterI had really mixed thoughts going into this movie. On one hand, the previews made it look fantastic, and it's based on an amazing short story. Also, the screenplay was done by the short story's author, the brilliant E. Annie Proulx, and western author extraordinaire Larry McMurtry. On the other hand, no matter how many good films he has lucked into and how brilliant everyone else says he is, I've never been a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, The Good Girl). And Heath Ledger has never been, to my mind, anything more than a putz (A Knight's Tale, The Brothers Grimm). And then there was Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) - great director, sure, but for an American western love story? I was really, really trepidatious about both the direction and the acting.

I was so, so wrong.

Ang Lee's direction is spot-on. Nothing is wasted, nothing is overdone. Jake Gyllenhaal is great. But the real gem, the thing that takes this from an incredible movie to a best ever movie, is Heath Ledger. Who knew he was hiding all this talent?

From my study of movies, it is damn difficult to play a decent cowboy. Almost inevitably you end up some dumbass Clint Eastwood movie cowboy bullshit, with barely any resemblance to the real thing. Even people who are actually from the American west can't do it. So how is it that an Australian pretty boy and an L.A. pretty boy played the best cowboys I've seen on screen in forever? They just got it right, especially Ledger. The quietness, the speech patterns, the posture. I watched this movie and it felt like home.

Another high point was the scenery. Though it was filmed largely in Canada, the film looked like the west to me, and it was beautifully shot, with no scenery overkill. Ang Lee and cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (Frida, 21 Grams) let the scenery play it's own role, another quiet character in the film, and it worked beautifully.

So far we've got excellent script, excellent acting, excellent direction, and excellent cinematography. What are we missing? Oh, music? Well, the soundtrack is to die for, including original music by Gustavo Santaolalla (21 Grams, The Motorcycle Diaries) and a fantastic country cross-section (the use of Willie Nelson's "He Was a Friend of Mine" during the closing credits just about did me in). I'll likely buy the soundtrack.

Even the costumes (done by Marit Allen, who also worked on Dead Man and Eyes Wide Shut) are perfect. Like the actors faces and pickup trucks, the trace the path from early 1960s cowboys to early 1980s cowboys without you realizing they're doing it. It's a beautiful thing.

Brokeback Mountain is, quite honestly, the best movie I've seen in several years. In the past few months I've seen a number of films that were quite good (Walk the Line, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck.), but Brokeback Mountain blows them all away. I hope it sweeps the awards ceremonies and I hope it's the beginning of more real roles for Heath Ledger. Even if he never makes another film, though, he should be proud of what he did in this one.


did michelle williams blow you away as much as she did me? i thought she did a fanfuckingtasting job. i was also pretty impressed by anne hathaway, even though i hate her and want to see her blacklisted in hollywood.

Michelle Williams was amazing. I meant to write more about the supporting cast, but then I got carried away with everything else. I really didn't like Anne Hathaway. She was the low spot of the movie for me.

anne hathaway is the low point of my life. i know what you mean. i wanted to tear my eyes out every time she was on screen. but the scene that did it for me was when she was talking heath on the phone and you could see her press on nails. that and her hair getting whiter and whiter as her eyebrows got darker and darker. she portrayed the image of an upper class texan woman exactly how it is in my head. except i should probably give credit to the costuming/make up people over her because again, the sound of her sucking can be heard from ends of the world.

Do you think Anne Hathaway did a lousy job acting, or is she just some form of unpleasant person? I'll admit to having spent a great deal of the movie coming up with obscene names for sequels to the movie. The names of characters and places seemed aimed at undermining the seriousness of the drama -- or adding comic relief. You have a gay character with the last name "Twist" and the other one's first name sounds a whole lot like "Anus." But my Hathaway question is still serious.

Mainly she just generally bugs me. I have no logical response.

i think it's her face.

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April 2012

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