Saturday, February 11, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

So, in my previous post, I mentioned that I hadn't seen Brokeback Mountain yet. Well, now I have. I thought the movie was excellent and is very deserving regarding the best picture Oscar. I feel even more strongly that Ang Lee should win best director. The cinematography is breath-taking, and Lee's vision is wonderful. Of his other movies, I've seen The Ice Storm (only once, and that was a while ago) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Lee is without a doubt one of my favorite directors (Curtis Hanson, Bryan Singer, and Tim Burton are some of the others that come to mind). Whenever he gets the chance to use nature as a visual aid, there is no one who can capture it as well. His movies are remarkably beautiful to watch. Whenever I think of Crouching Tiger, the first image that pops into my mind is the way the bamboo trees would flow in the wind. With Brokeback Mountain, obviously, it is the majesty of the mountains. Cold and austere, yet ever present and comforting.

The acting was also very good. If it were not for Capote, I would say that Heath Ledger should get the Oscar for lead actor. He was surprisingly good. Any other year, I would say he would win. Not this year, though. Hoffman's portrayal is simply too perfect to be beaten. Jake Gyllenhaal was less than great at the beginning of the movie, but he improved a lot as the story progressed. I don't know exactly what it was at the beginning. He seemed to be trying too hard. I'm not sure. And, of course, there's also Michelle Williams for supporting actress. She was very good. Of the acting categories, supporting actress seems to be the one that is the most competitive. Hoffman should have lead actor locked up. Clooney won the supporting actor Golden Globe, but none of the Oscar nominees really stick out as that great. I think I actually liked Randy Quaid in Brokeback more than I liked any of the nominees. Felicity Huffman will most likely win lead actress. But for support actress, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, and Catherine Keener are all deserving. I haven't seen North Country, but I know that Frances McDormand is always brilliant, so she probably has a shot, too. I think the award will go to either Weisz or Williams, but I think this category is very close.

OK, so enough of Oscar talk and back to the movie itself. What I loved about this movie is the indirect story-telling. If you wanted to learn how to create a movie to tell a story without relying on dialogue, this is the quintessential case study. If I remember correctly, the word "love" is never uttered by anyone in the movie. Yet that is what it is all about. And the ending. Poetic brilliance. The love that Ennis had for Jack allowed him to learn to love his daughters. If that seems a little obscure, go see the movie. It'll make more sense.

This movie, like I mentioned in regard to Munich, succeeds because of the emphasis on the inherent drama of human relations. There are no easy answers. There is no simple love story without the context of the world around us. I read somewhere that that is one of Ang Lee's signatures. He likes to create stories of love that cannot be as a result of external forces. That certainly is the case here. The world is not perfect and we must make the most of every opportunity to experience love.

So, yes, I am officially on the bandwagon now. Brokeback Mountain is my pick for the best film of the year.


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