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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

We got to admit it: Ang Lee fouled up in his ambitious adaptation of the marvel superhero Hulk into the big screen. A long boring story involving a raging green CGI-monster didn't real count as a good enough movie. And we thought that Lee had ran out of luck but redemption came sweet and swift to this Taiwan-born director. Now with another adaptation (this time of E. Annie Proulx's short-story) and directing trophies and a possible Oscar nod come March, Ang Lee is back in his elements.

With the same poignancy sans special effects that he gave us in Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon (nominated for Best Foreign Language Film) Lee delivers in Brokeback a very understated yet moving drama. Brokeback stars Heath Ledger as Ennis del Mar and Jake Gyllenhaal as Jack Twist; two cowboys whose unconventional and illicit love affair brings them together and tears their loved ones apart.

While stationed as hire hands to oversee sheep at Brokeback Mountain, jolly and noisome Jack befriended and drew close the silent and reserved Ennis. One bitterly cold night the two cowboys had a passionate encounter and they were forever change. Discovering that they have more than physical attraction between them and yet realizing that they can't live together , they decided to part ways. But four years of separation was simply too unbearable for either of them and soon they found themselves, having had wives and children of their own, helplessly in love with one another.

It all seemed like a simple love story. But this was in the 1960's. They were living in a tightly-knit Christian communities that never heard of gay relationships. And they were cowboys: the iconic image of the American male. With superb acting delivered by both actors (especially commendation goes to Ledger, though) and their able support (Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams), Brokeback definitely restores Ang Lee reputation and hauls for the director loads of cash and numerous awards.

Filmed in Signal, Wyoming by the virtuouso cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (21 Grams, Amores Perros) who apparently did not know how to shoot a single ugly scene, Brokeback provides an Eden-like set for the "Adam and Eve" of the story. The background sets are too beautiful and serene that they are sometimes a distraction. However they are necessary to contrast the anguish and pains felt by the main characters as they struggled to express what they truly felt in a world that would not let them do so.

The verdict fanatic: For this film, and hopefully no more of Hulk-sy stuff, hats-off for Mr. Lee!


Blogger Buddy said...

hey bro,

haven't seen this film yet -- although it's a sure Oscar winner, and is all the rage w/ the movie-going public in America.

i'll be really glad if a lot of people walk away from this movie, including me, with a new education on the complexities of human sexuality.

i think we've all been schooled in the notion that you're either gay or straight...but maybe there are some folks in between. i think that people have all kinds of relationships, and they're certainly all valid and meaningful.

i think that, more than sexuality, it's intimacy between two men that's the compelling drama in this film. real intimacy, not necessarily sexual, is the great frontier between men...like the wide windswept Wyoming landscape portrayed in the movie.

people, friends, lovers...it's all pretty complex. indeed, so is life. but it is also pretty darn good. it can all be lived, experienced, valued.

keep watching movies, and keep writing!

11:47 PM  
Blogger BuffyICS said...

This movie was really good, and very sad. I was surprised at how much I really empathized with the two main characters and their struggle--I think Ang Lee really drove his point home. Great movie. I hope too many people don't write it off as simply a "gay cowboy movie."

1:57 AM  
Blogger Noel Y. Bava said...

thanks for the comments buddy and buffyics. i also wish that this movie will provide people a deeper understanding and appreciation of the unique contribution of gay people to our civilization. recently gay-themed movies (monster, crazy, transamerica, blossoming of maximo oliveros) are showing more humanity into their characters. unlike the movies of old where the gay personality is only incidental into the film which panders more on the physical and sexual relationship.

i do believe that movies have the power to change perception and that moviemakers have this responsibility that they communicate a fair, honest and sincere story that would advance our common understanding. that's why we need to watch and be critical and share with others what we learn and discover.

thanks again buddy and buffyics!

7:01 AM  
Blogger Jeff Pioquinto,SJ said...

WOW. nice review. thanks and God bless

3:22 PM  
Blogger vonjobi said...

have you read the short story? check out "Brokeback Mountain" by Annie Proulx.

hope you still remember me =)

6:46 AM  
Blogger Noel Y. Bava said...

vonjobi. you were my classmate in ma'am tope's asian lit. right? thanks for the links to brokeback mountain short-story, i've been looking for it.

6:36 PM  
Blogger vonjobi said...

asian lit? never enrolled there. philo po tayo magkaklase. arvisuit yata ako at that time. josefino ka pa at that time =)

10:30 PM  

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