Dec 26, 2005

I survived Xmas and the gay cowboy movie almost intact!

I am happy to report, dear readers, that your Big Enchilada here, who is getting plumper by the minute, spent a weekend of Xmas carolling, stuffing turkey (into her mouth) and drooling over Jake and Heath and is none the worse for wear.
In fact, I went to the 11:30 am showing of Brokeback Mountain on Christmas day and after spending two hours home on the range with such beautiful company, instead of the traditional breakfast prescribed on this day by the Lord to all Jews living within reach of good Chinese food, I was hankering for some down home chow instead. But then I've always been a heretic at heart.
However, it is also my duty to report that I have mixed feelings about the Mountain.
I was ecstatic to see that the man responsible for the stunning, sensitive cinematography is my incredibly talented countryman Rodrigo Prieto. Prieto has worked on Amores Perros, Eight Mile and many other splendidly lit movies. In Brokeback Mountain he reins in his spectacular color effects and lights this film in a beautiful, tender, unobtrusive way. The same can be said for Ang Lee's sensitive, graceful, touching direction. He has a wonderful way with actors and all of them are quite terrific. The mood is elegiac and tragic and beautiful and managed to move me deeply. But I kept wishing for a number of things:
1. That they would not keep cutting away to a full moon, as if we were watching a documentary on the life of the wild coyote.
2. That Jake Gyllenhall, who is a subtle, delightful actor on whom I have had an enormous crush since Donnie Darko, would get his cowboy accent straighter. And that I would believe more that he is actually a cowboy.
My dream casting for the film would probably have been Joaquin Phoenix and Peter Sarsgaard, both of which radiate something more mysterious and elusive and who I love to death in everything.
3. I wish I liked Heath Ledger, who is wonderful in the film, more than I did. Hype is evil. (How come the Aussies and the English always nail the US regional accents better than the homegrown talent?)
4. Like my friend Marta says, it would have been nice to see the cowboys rough it out a little more. I woudn't have lasted a day and a half eating beans in the great outdoors, but for instance, when they decide to kill for lunch, instead of a demure cut to them already enjoying their dinner, I would have liked to see a little bit more of how they got to extract the meat.
5. I wish that the writers did not have to resort to intimations of terrible violence against homosexuals in order to make the point, which they already make beautifully, that the prejudice against homosexuality is terribly pointless and stupid and tragic. Just the fact that two people go through such self-denial, destruction, deception and sadness because of social prejudice is enough to drive home the point. However, I understand that I may get it, but others less enlightened may not.
Still, Brokeback Mountain is a movie worth pondering. The women in it are wonderful, particularly Michelle Williams, as Heath Ledger's wife and the amazing Roberta Maxwell, who steals the film in one scene as Jake's mom.
I hope that audiences in multiplexes all over the homophobic world will approach this movie with the grace and thoughtfulness it deserves. Since I have no faith in mankind, I seriously doubt it.

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