Much Better Than I had Expected — Excellent, in Fact

Brokeback Mountain.JPG

I don’t normally run out and see movies because they have a libertarian theme, or a gay theme, or whatever else I might find interesting or with which I might identify. I did see Brokeback Mountain this evening with a friend and I can report that it’s an excellent film. Better movie reviewers than I can go on about the cinematography or the acting or the direction. I’ll just say that it’s a compelling story that’s compellingly told. I recommend it for all audiences who are capable of appreciating a movie for adults — not an “adult movie,” but a movie for mature people who aren’t disappointed if the ending isn’t happy. (It isn’t.) (For people for whom sex scenes are inherently interesting but who can’t empathize with gay sexuality, I’ll say that the one gay sex scene was quite tame by today’s standards and was less explicit than the straight sex scenes.)

My movie companion had read the story by Annie Proulx and strongly recommended it, so it’s just been ordered. I look forward to reading it and the other stories on Wyoming.

6 Responses to “Much Better Than I had Expected — Excellent, in Fact”

  1. I agree. I was pleasantly surprised by the film, and I think Heath Ledger should get an Oscar for his role.

    There are so many complex human themes in the movie that I can’t begin to address them all. I am disappointed that it has been stereotyped as the “gay cowboy” movie when it is about so much more.

    When I left I found that three themes probably stuck with me the most (none of them explicitly sexuality, yet all of them finding some manifestation in sexuality): Loneliness, violence, longing.

  2. Tom, why *much* better than you expected?

    Do you mean you don’t expect that much maturity from Hollywood (eg. like a Good Night, Good Luck which was certainly childish)?

  3. Tom G. Palmer

    Well, I hadn’t put a lot of thought into “better than I expected” or “much better than I expected,” but I was expecting a soppy love story that would be as insipid as most love stories on film. In fact, it’s a nuanced and sophisticated treatment of love, loneliness, longing, alienation, authenticity, and other adult themes. I don’t see all that many films and I don’t watch television, at least partly because they seem to cater so much to adolescent tastes. I’ve nothing against such tastes per se (I’m attracted to explosions, violence, and pointless cruidty as much as the next person), but they don’t really interest me a great deal. They give little occasion for further thought. Brokeback Mountain did give such occasion, and I appreciate that and hope that others will see it, as well.

  4. “In fact, it’s a nuanced and sophisticated treatment of … alienation, authenticity…”

    Add “angst” in there and you’d think Heidegger wrote the screenplay!

    That you enjoyed it may tip my balance. Seeing the preview, I had similar low expectations.

  5. A lot of television is how you describe but there are some real gems out there, more easily accessible now thanks to the wonders of the DVD for rent or purchase, for viewing in your own time.

    I’d recommend in particular anything David Simon has been associated with, as his stuff truly transcends its genre (in this case crime and innercity life in Baltimore):

    “Homicide: Life on the street”

    “The Corner”

    “The Wire”

    I’ve also found “Lost” worth the commitment.

  6. Annie Proulx is one of the best contemporary fiction writers. “The Shipping News” was also based on her writing — in that case, a novel.

    If you do pick up her work, be advised that she is not kind to her characters. Her protagonists are always either jerks, pathetic losers or dumb and ugly like Quoyle from The Shipping News. Sometimes all of the above.