Sunday, January 22, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

A review...

I went to see this movie Friday, and I've been trying to formulate a quick-and-easy review ever since. Quick-and-easy it's not going to be, though. It's not a quick-and-easy movie.

It runs two-and-a-quarter hours, so timewise, you'll definitely get your money's worth -- that is, if you think any movie is ever worth the $11.00 price of admission!

Okay, let me tell you what bothered me about this movie: Ang Lee is a better director than he shows us in this movie, so what happened to his much-vaunted talent here? And I want the editor's head on a platter. I'm almost a charter member of Nitpicker's Guide to the Galaxy, and any director and editor that can take a perfectly wonderful story and turn it into uneven mash is gonna catch hell from me!

The opening scene is confusing. The two "cowboys" (and gimme a break -- this movie starts in 1963 and ends in 1985 -- we still call them cowboys just because they wear jeans and hats?) meet for the first time; but the way they avoid looking at each other makes you think that they've not only met, but they're already involved and trying not to admit it, even to themselves. I honestly thought the projectionist had the wrong reel, for awhile.

And there are a couple of flashback scenes that have no bracketing -- no way to let you know you're seeing a flashback (fade-in/out, voice-over echo -- whatever it takes to say: This is a flashback).

Okay, bitching over for now. Just so you know. If you haven't seen it yet, you'll be ready for the unevenness of it. Now, for what I liked about it...

Oh, just about everything else. No, it's not a cowboy movie. Jack and Ennis could have been stevedores or lumberjacks -- any two guys from small town America in 1963. And that's part of the key -- small town America. Not city guys. Not sophisticated and worldly. Both very much a product of their environments, and each caught in his own confusion about what he feels versus what he's been taught while growing up.

Is it a "gay" movie? Well, it's about two guys who have an on-again-off-again sexual relationship over the course of twenty-two years (and more "off" than "on" I might add), while at the same time, both being married-with-children. Does that make it a "gay" movie?

I don't want to be a spoiler, so I really don't want to be too specific about the storyline. But there is a (flashback) scene in which Ennis tells Jack about being a very small boy (I think around six years old), and his father having dragged him and his slightly older brother out into the desert one night to "take a good look" at the mutilated corpse of a neighbor of theirs who had been beaten to death because it was thought that he was homosexual. That scene, somewhere in the middle of the movie, actually sums up the homophobic attitude that the two of them grew up with. It foreshadows why they have to be so damned careful.

So, why aren't they careful?

After the first summer they spend together, up on the mountain, it's four years before they actually see each other again. Jack comes from Texas to Wyoming. On seeing him, Ennis grabs him into a fierce embrace. They think they're unobserved. But Ennis' wife, looking out the window, not only sees, but understands. She says nothing to him, though, until many years later.

That was the scene at which I knew I wasn't going to be looking for happily-ever-after. Because although Jack kept suggesting that the two of them pool their resources and get their own spread somewhere, Ennis kept backing off, wanting not to stay involved. And yet, Ennis could not help but be careless when Jack was around.

There are some places to cheer in the movie -- like the Christmas dinner when Jack has finally had it up to his ears with his domineering, I-can-insult-you-in-your-own-house-because-you-work-for-me father-in-law, and he tells the old bastard to siddown and shaddap! Much to everyone's surprise, the old bastard does exactly that -- and Jack's wife has this neat little cat-got-the-cream smile around her mouth; and you see her chin tilt up a little with new pride in her husband. Jack's mother-in-law continues to look like she's sucking on a lemon, but you have to wonder if the old bugger got an earful from her, too, after they got home.

Scenes to cheer or laugh about are few, though. It's a very tension-filled movie. If you're a compulsive nibbler under stress, buy three tubs of popcorn -- the extra-large size.

I've heard this called a "chick-flick," and I don't know why. Nothing soft and romantic about it (at least, that's what I'm led to understand defines a "chick-flick").

Would I see it again? Oh, yes. Although I still think Ang Lee fell down on the job, and I want that editor run outa town on a rail -- after his head is delivered to me on a platter. Bottom line is that it's a good story.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. Go see it for yourself.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Ian Scott said...

I haven't gone to see a movie at a theatre in a long time; maybe I'll reverse the trend and check this one out.

Monday, January 23, 2006 3:03:00 AM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Yes, do -- I had not been to a theater to see a movie in sixteen years. Bit I was too curious about this one to wait for the DVD, which I will also buy. And maybe Ang Lee will have had time to fix the glitches I talked about, and we'll get a "director's cut."

Monday, January 23, 2006 6:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Rick Barnes said...

Good review.

Todays news is that the MSM is not covering all the news. When do you suppose they will report in this... Ontario Conservative faces possible Assault charge

Monday, January 23, 2006 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Ach! I don't have RealPlayer or Quicktime, Rick.

Maybe now that the election is over, there will be more room for important things in the MSM, eh?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 12:48:00 AM  

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