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Brokeback Mountain (Blu-ray Disc, 2009)
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Created: 01/12/07

Ennis and Jack

Love has no rules. It happens when we least expect it, often when we don't want it, many times when we can't handle it. It often times scares you, surprises you, shakes you down to your very core. Ennis Del Mar (a remarkable Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (an emotionally available Jake Gyllenhaal) find themselves thrown together because of a job: forced to spend many hours together alone in the wild, tending to sheep in a remote region of Wyoming....on Brokeback Mountain. They fall in love: a love that they soon realize only lives and breathes on the mountain.
It's 1963, pre American involvement in the Vietnam War, post Korean War: a time in the USA when life was simple, straightforward and the lines between the sexes and sex roles were crisply drawn and severely delineated. It was a time when men and women were pigeon-holed into unrealistic modes of behavior and anyone who ventured outside of these boundaries was thought of at best, weird at worst... perverted and in many states, criminal. Ennis himself, at an early age was witness to the ugly, disgusting results of a hate crime perpetrated on a Wyoming farmer who had lived many years with his partner. In most societies he would be venerated but in 1950's Wyoming... he became a target.
Director Ang Lee begins this film as both Ennis and Jack are waiting outside of a building, both looking for work, both down on their luck, both avoiding each other's eyes. We know, or those of us who have read the story know, what is to happen and so unfortunately we read more into that simple scene than there really is. But with all that aside, this scene of Ennis and Jack avoiding each other, dodging each others looks, staring at the ground, kicking up the dirt is nonetheless rife with sensuality and tension.
Ennis and Jack are inexorably drawn to each other through their proximity, loneliness and through a shared lack of tenderness and emotion in their lives: they are emotionally, physically and psychically bonded almost from the start. It is inevitable. It is Fate.
And so begins a Love affair that transcends social mores, time, marriages, children, extra-marital affairs and divorce.
Despite all that is going on in their lives, Ennis and Jack meet several times a year up on Brokeback mountain and rekindle and thereby re-ignite their emotional and physical attraction: there is no one around, they are free from their regular lives...they can love.
Much has been made of Heath Ledger's performance as Ennis and he gives what is without a doubt one of the finest performances of this year. Ennis is a quiet, stoic man and he is troubled and frankly scared by how deeply he feels for Jack. As he showed us first in "Monster's Ball," Ledger is capable of digging way deep down into his gut and imbuing his performances with an unflinching frankness and truth that we can neither ignore nor help to be moved by.
Gyllenhall's Jack is the younger of the two: he's fun, he's a little crazy and unfortunately he wants a lot, lot more than Ennis is able to give him. Gyllenhaal's hang-dog, frisky puppy of a performance is full of warmth and light: the kind of transcendent light that shines out from a soul full of love, understanding and acceptance.
"Brokeback Mountain" is devastating in both its presentation, its performances and its tragic denouement. This movie is not for everyone. But if you are willing to open up your heart and mind a bit to let in its beauty, emotionality and sensuality you will not be disappointed. In fa

11 of 17 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 07/08/06

Thanks to Brokeback Mountain, I Try Not to Drop Things.

Ennis tells Jack about something he saw as a boy. "There were two old guys shacked up together. They were the joke of the town, even though they were pretty tough old birds." One day they were found beaten to death. Ennis says: "My dad, he made sure me and my brother saw it. For all I know, he did it."

This childhood memory is always there, the ghost in the room, in Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain." When he was taught by his father to hate homosexuals, Ennis was taught to hate his own feelings. Years after he first makes love with Jack on a Wyoming mountainside, after his marriage has failed, after his world has compressed to a mobile home, the laundromat, the TV, he still feels the same pain: "Why don't you let me be? It's because of you, Jack, that I'm like this -- nothing, and nobody."

But it's not because of Jack. It's because Ennis and Jack love each other and can find no way to deal with that. "Brokeback Mountain" has been described as "a gay cowboy movie," which is a cruel simplification. It is the story of a time and place where two men are forced to deny the only great passion either one will ever feel. Their tragedy is universal. It could be about two women, or lovers from different religious or ethnic groups -- any "forbidden" love.

The movie wisely never steps back to look at the larger picture, or deliver the "message." It is specifically the story of these men, this love. It stays in closeup. That's how Jack and Ennis see it. "You know I ain't queer," Ennis tells Jack after their first night together. "Me, neither," says Jack.

Their story begins in Wyoming in 1963, when Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) are about 19 years old and get a job tending sheep on a mountainside. Ennis is a boy of so few words he can barely open his mouth to release them; he learned to be guarded and fearful long before he knew what he feared. Jack, who has done some rodeo riding, is a little more outgoing. After some days have passed on the mountain and some whiskey has been drunk, they suddenly and almost violently have sex.

"This is a one-shot thing we got going on here," Ennis says the next day. Jack agrees. But it's not. When the summer is over, they part laconically: “I guess I’ll see ya around, huh?”Their boss (Randy Quaid) tells Jack he doesn't want him back next summer: "You guys sure found a way to make the time pass up there. You weren't getting paid to let the dogs guard the sheep while you stemmed the rose."

Some years pass. Both men get married. Then Jack goes to visit Ennis in Wyoming, and the undiminished urgency of their passion stuns them. Their lives settle down into a routine, punctuated less often than Jack would like by "fishing trips." Ennis' wife, who has seen them kissing, says nothing about it for a long time. But she notices there are never any fish.

The movie is based on a short story by E. Annie Proulx. The screenplay is by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. This summer I read McMurtry's Lonesome Dove trilogy, and as I saw the movie I was reminded of Gus and Woodrow, the two cowboys who spend a lifetime together. They aren't gay; one of them is a womanizer and the other spends his whole life regretting the loss of the one woman he loved. They're straight, but just as crippled by a society that tells them how a man must behave and what he must feel.

"Brokeback Mountain" could tell its story and not necessarily be a great movie. It could be a melodrama. It could be a "gay cowboy movie."

5 of 13 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 02/04/10

"Brokeback Masterpiece"

I love this movie very much. I actually finished it a few minutes ago, so I'm writing the review while it is still fresh in my mind.

Before I begin, I would like to say that I bought it because 1.) "Brokeback Mountain" is my favorite short story of all time, 2.) I wanted to see how one of the greatest screenwriters (Larry McMurtry, "The Last Picture Show") and directors (Ang Lee, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") would adapt it to the screen and 3.)I am a Heath Ledger fan.

This is a love story that will never grow old. All of the passion, love, heartbreak, conflict and the loneliness that made the movie a masterpiece that is very much alive and well in this day and age.

Heath's performance of Ennis and Jake's portrayal of Jack were phenomenal, and should have won the Oscars(R) for their roles. All of the talent that have was used so well and passionately for this film (and yes, Michelle Williams as Alma and Anne Hathaway as Lureen did a fine job, too). The love was real and the chemistry was electrifying, which spoke for itself.

There were also so many subtle actions in the film that spoke louder than words. Moments like that stick out in my mind, especially with the irony that Ennis is alive at the end and not Jack at the end of the film, while, in real time, Heath is now dead and Jake is still alive. In this way, it is a sad moment that will linger in my mind for a long time.

Now the technical aspects of the film from the Oscar(R)-winning standpoint. The screenplay had most of the same dialogue as the short story, but also made the women a little more prominent, as well as adding in little bits and pieces that didn't detract from the story but fleshed it out a bit. Also, Gustavo's score carried on the story and highlighted the main points with subtlety accompanying the silent actions of the story. Ang Lee's control over the film showed that he wanted it to be like a real and complex love story that you would usually see with a man and woman, only that this was between two men that found each other to be special and knew how to treat each other right unlike the women that they were married to. Rodrigo's cinematography of the film showed the important "actions speak louder than words" moments, which really impressed me.

"Brokeback" is one of the best films I've ever seen, and I am glad I can watch it over and over again. Five stars.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 06/30/06

Not just a Gay Cowboy Movie !

Contrary to what many people think, this is not a "gay cowboy" movie. It happens to be much more than that. It shows the trials and emotions of an impossible love situation, and the problems with having to keep it secret.

The two lead actors, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, are superb. They seem so natural and convincing in their roles, and you come away almost believing these characters are real. Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway are superbly cast as their wives.

I was a bit sceptical about watching the film in the first place, but soon put any reservations aside. It is unusual for me to get emotional when watching a film, but I was almost in tears in places. The scenery is stunning, and adds a certain amount of romance to the story. I feel the film wouldn't have worked as well if it had been set elsewhere. The climate and weather is skillfully included in the picture, and plays a vital role in the storyline.

I believe this is one of Ang Lee's finest films. He handles the subject matter with great sensitivity. Annie Proulx should be congratulated for the origonal short story, and Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana have done an amazing job in writing it into the screenplay.

Although I did infact find that the second part of the film dragged on somewhat, and some of the speech was difficult to hear, I think overall it is one the finest films to come out of America in recent times

4 of 13 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 04/07/06

Brokeback Mountain

I just watched Brokeback Mountain for the first time last night after renting it on DVD and thought it was excellent. I was surprised by some plot twists which I hadn't heard previously, such as Ennis' wife discovering her husbands feelings for Jack when they (she and Jack) first meet. I also didn't realize that Jack is murdered in the movie. Overall, the acting was superb, especially that of Heath Ledger. It's easy to see why he was the front runner for the Oscar for so long, and actually it seems to me that he created a character from nothing whereas Philip Seymor Hoffman more or less did a good impersonation of Truman Capote (and really, what actor couldn't get mileage out of an easy person to imitate like Capote?). I think the gay theme of Brokeback scared the older Academy voters, who could vote for Best Director and Screenplay, but were fearful of rewarding the movie in the acting categories (Jake Gyllenhall, Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway were exceptional) and as Best Picture. Crash was an engaging movie but far more flawed than Brokeback. The only real glitch I found in Brokeback was Ennis' sudden bravado when he first sees Jack years after their inital meeting on the mountain: Ennis is so guarded about everything he does, yet he wantonly risks being seen kissing Jack in the open at their second meeting, which of course his wife witnesses so easily from their apartment window. It would have seemed far more natural for Ennis to wait until he and Jack were alone, which they were less than an hour later. I think his lifelong fear of being discovered would have easily overrode his elation at seeing Jack again, especially when he knew they would be spending quality time alone after he introduced Jack to his wife. But overall, the movie is deeply rich in depicting the good and bad of human nature and in telling both a joyous and sad tale of two people in love who are forced to live in the shadows of society by ignorant mores of the day.

25 of 41 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 06/20/08

Brokeback Mountain

The winner of 77 awards, this 2005 film took home such biggies as Best Director (Ang Lee), Best Musical Score (Gustavo Santaolalla) and Best Writing Adapted Screenplay (Diana Ossana and James Schamus) from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It also received nominations for Best Actor (Heath Ledger), Best Supporting Actor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Best Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams). Based on a short story written by Annie Proulx, it tells the story of two cowboys in 1963 Wyoming who suddenly find themselves falling in love. They try to hide their true feelings, but the decades-long affair has devastating consequences for all.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 03/29/06

A can't-miss film, even for straight men.

This film has beautiful sweeping western landscape cinematography - absolutely gorgeous. The acting is more than impressive, the directing is top-notch and the writing really makes one think. If you watched "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer as a child and caught the making fun of misfits was wrong and maybe I should be more tolerant, too, then you will surely feel that way about this film. Gay and bisexual men are often put down for being unmanly, unnatural and just plain outright icky, but this film makes one really think... what would I have done had I been in his or her place? If you have heard there is lots of graphic sex in this film, you were misinformed... this is by far one of the most tame R-rated films of an adult nature I have viewed. This film will powefully move all to see it to tears, or very close to it. "Brokeback Mountain" is a fictional setting in rural Wyoming and was inspired by a short story from author Annie Proulx. Surpsisingly, this film touches on a widespread, but very taboo subject bi or gay married men cheating on their wives. However, the film is far more than a casual-fling type of story... it evolves into true love between two... men, masculine and good looking - something most big budget Hollywood films have rarely grazed over before. "Brokeback" will open your eyes, your mind and quite possibly even your heart - and just maybe there will more understanding and far less hatred towards those who are different from ourselves... or are they?

50 of 68 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 07/05/09

How Pathetic!

This movie was most surely not written by anyone who has been on a cattle drive with another male at any time in their life. Speaking from experience, this is such a work of fiction, it borders on laughable from those of us who have driven cattle with other males and know what it is like in that kind of environment day in and day out. You depend on one another for friendship, or course, but the thought of anything besides talking of our women at home or lucking up running into a farm with a couple of daughters of age, sex never enters the life of a real cattleman and the idea of this story is ludicrous to say the least. There are only brief times for bathing, and that is done in streams or with heated water, so the man on the horse beside you is no more appealing than the horse, itself. There were never in 10 years of cattle driving that I knew of an experience like this that actually happened, so why would Hollywood create one to begin with? For gay rights, as if they don't have enough already? Gay people are allowed to marry, adopt kids, and legally live lives together so to make up a story that is so unlikely to happen that it should have been a comedy actually infuriates those of us who have worked this kind of life and been involved with several ranches and with it never even coming to mind in all the ranches I've worked, it makes me sick to think someone would actually make up a story line that is so purely fiction and to turn it into a romance is insulting.
I do not have anything against gay people in general, but this story is about 10 years of what I did for a living and having never heard of that kind of situation ever even coming up considering all we had to do at night was tell stories, usually about other cattle drives, and the stories always were about the life saving that goes on or the friendships made through the long journeys, but never about romance on the job, so it is an insult to those of us who lived our lives as drivers or ranchers.

0 of 4 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 09/06/08

give it a chance

what i like about this movie is that it turns in amazing performances from a great cast of rising stars. while the subject may be a little too much for the close-minded crowd, i think its a wonderfully written love story that touches on all the right moments in a struggling relationship and anyone with an open heart can relate to it whether you're gay or straight.
what i absolutely hate about Brokeback Mountain is that every jerk with an opinion writes it off as being about gay cowboys. its been said thousands of times, if it were a man and woman in the roles of Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger or even two women, there wouldn't be an issue.but then it would have been just another love story.
i strongly recommend Brokeback to anyone and everyone but be warned, if you're too sensitive to seeing something different or closed off from trying something new then you aren't going to like it.

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Created: 09/16/06

Love has no boundaries

Brokeback shows us that love can't be put in a little category i.e. man woman
mother daughter etc. etc. Love trancends cultural norms and this movie shows it.
Love is universal. Also, are we really sure this movie is a movie about
"gay cowboys?" Jack is bi-sexual and I think Ennis is actually a heteroaexual
male, who through his own past experiences, of vulnerability and hurt, makes him
look at Jack and say wow. He (Ennis) falls IN love with Jack. Nowhere did I see any other indication that he felt any type of sexual attraction for any other male and also for both Ennis and Jack sex ISN'T the major focus of their
relationship it is love, especially theough Ennis's eyes. I throw out for consideration, Ennis is , yes heartbroken about Jack's murder, but at the same
time releived, he no longer has to feel "guilty" anymore or tormented. He did
grow through his relationship with Jack evidenced by his acceptance of attending his daughter, Juniors, wedding. He also asked did her boyfriend love her, this question a milestone for our quiet, stoic Ennis. Ennis grew
on almost every level and learned what it was to be really loved and to really love possibly for the first time. When Jack dies Ennis carries Jack's love inside as well as a part of Jack himself that now lives through Ennis.
Ledger's performance was superlative, the best. His playing this role did
a service for our society. I throw this out for consideration also for all the "homophobic" do u really know what goes on in people's bedrooms homo or hetro? Regardless, sex is only part of a relationship between two consenting adults I, for one,will not judge except to say again love IS good painful but nothing worth having or knowing doesn't come with pain.

8 of 12 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

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