December 17, 2005

All I want for Christmas

All I want for Christmas are two things.

First, I would like a baby panda. No, not a stuffed one. I want a real one...maybe one that looks like this guy. I will name him Butterstick.

Now I admit that seems a tad impractical. But my second wish isn't any easier to shop for. I would like two cowboys. Specifically those that are bicurious with a propensity for long "fishing trips."

OK, so I'm sure it's no surpise to you that I'm talking about Brokeback Mountain. The SNU and I caught it tonight, and let's just say it's so well done that I had to come home to tell you just that.

If you haven't heard the plot, basically it's the story of two cowboys who are hired to tend a sheep flock for a summer on Brokeback Mountain. The cold nights eventually force them together, and they suddenly feel lust take over. What follows is a burgeoning love story - in a place and time where that love is impossible. They don't have the words for how they feel, they just know that it's real. And while one pushes to take a risk and stay together, the other knows that society won't let them.

What follows is how the different paths each man takes both end in unhappiness. Marriage, children, affairs, divorce. You know from almost the first moment that this is one film about love that just isn't going to end happy.

The strength of the movie is definitely in the acting - Heath Ledger is absolutely uncanny as man-of-few-words Ennis, while Jake Gyllenhall is full of heated tension as a man who wants the one thing he can't have. There's also a surprising turn of good performances from the women playing their wives. Michelle Williams (of Dawson's Creek!) plays a wife who knows too much, while Anne Hathaway (I can't believe I saw the Princess Diaries' boobies!) is the opposite - a woman who ignores it all with cool detachment.

Now all that is great, no question. But the film is also visually stunning - the real-life mountains of Alberta stand-in as Wyoming. There is so much colorful beauty, it's a nice reminder that there are still a great many untouched landscapes on this continent.

And the direction is superb...because it's so understated. Ang Lee was the director who brought us the amazing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (featuring the gorgeous Michelle Yeoh), and then followed it up with royal stinker The Hulk (notable mostly for introducing us to that fine piece of meat, Eric Bana). This film cements him back as a man who has a great sense of letting a scene speak for itself. He's famous for giving almost no direction to actors, and in this case it's a huge payoff - he doesn't need to. Ledger is able to communicate more in a few simple grunts than Nic Cage does in two hours of babbling.

The final scenes of this movie are so very heart-wrenching. I wanted to cry, but it was so painful I became numb. It's all so very tragic...ugh, it hurts just to think about it.

So go see this movie. It's not a "gay movie." It's a film about love that's found in the most unexpected place, and how it fights to still exist.

I predict some serious Oscar haul this spring. Ledger will be fighting Phillip Seymour Hoffman tooth and nail for Best Actor. And I'm certain that Ang Lee and the film itself will be serious contenders.

If you do see the film, please comment here - I'm very interested to hear what you think.

In more humrous news, I think you'd enjoy seeing this little post about the changing hairstyles of Anne Hathaway in the movie!


ScottE. said...

I agree 100%. It's a great, simple, understated movie. It's wonderful. I did get a bit schfitzy here and there.

I want to add to the post re: music. I loved the music. It's just as simple and beautiful as the movie. The score is mostly guitar, in a classical style. I feel that it punctuated and underscored the moments of the movie exactly where it needs.

The original story is very good. It's short, about 14 pages, originally published in the New Yorker, another similiarity with CAPOTE. I have it on my 'puter and can send it to anyone who might like it.

There is one scene that I felt was a bit different from the story and a little distracting because I interpretted the story differently at that moment.

Regardless, it's an amazing movie, a tragic love story. And frankly, a little hot.

Stef said...

I also loved this movie. Heath Ledger was amazing. I've always loved him as a hottie scamp, like in 10 Things I Hate About You, but I was really impressed with how much he was able to express in his stoicism. He was a little too mumbly at a few points, though, cuz sometimes he was hard to understand. Maybe trying to cover his hot Aussie accent? But yes, he and Jake were both great. Jake really conveyed a youthful, almost immature enthusiasm and idealism.

The cinematography was fantastic. I fell in love with the landscapes and I really thought the sheep-driving scenes were gorgeous. In fact, I got a little emotional just hearing the sheep. I haven't seen any close up since my days on the farm, and sometimes I do really miss them. I think we sold off our sheep when I was in early college, so it's been about 10 years.

The funniest part of the movie was when Anne Hathaway ripped open her shirt, and my friend Kevin sort of squeaked and said "oh, Princess!" We couldn't believe we were seeing her boobies, either.

Stef said...

Oh, and can I share a baby panda with you?!?

When are you guys gonna go see Tai-Shan? I'm planning to sometime in January. I'd love to make a day of it!

Em said...

This movie is high on my Want To See list. My mom thinks the short story is one of the best pieces of literature in the past 50 years! I'll be borrowing it from her at some point.

Also, if you haven't seen it yet, do rent another wonderfu/beautiful/sad movie directed by Ang Lee: "The Ice Storm." Totally amazing.

Dancer in DC said...

The Ice Storm is an amazing film. Very disturbing. Fantastic performances from Joan Allen and Sigourney Weaver.

ScottE. said...

Em: I have the PDF of the story on my home computer, I can send it to you...?