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Brokeback Mountain
DVD disk
04.17.2006 By: Sturdy
Brokeback Mountain order
Director:
Ang Lee

Actors:
Heath Ledger
Jake Gyllenhaal
Michelle Williams

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Set in the early sixties, two cowboys take a job watching over sheep on Brokeback mountain. Soon, they give in to their desires for each other and live out the rest of their lives wanting something society wonít let them have.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
The problem with movies that deal with sensitive subject matter is that one side of the fence is always shunned in favor of popular opinion. In this case, popular opinion seems to say that if you donít think BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is a spectacular film, then youíre obviously homophobic. Thatís unfortunate because once you weed your way through all the hype, you see that the film has many flaws and doesnít quite reach the level of greatness that people want to bestow upon it.

In the early 1960ís being a homosexual usually meant a beating or even a killing. Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhall) are well aware of this. They take a job as ranch hands, say about 20 words to each other and the next thing you know theyíre having sex in a tent. And this is a huge problem with story that relies on the audience believing that these two characters had true love between them. It never took the time to build their relationship from casual acquaintance to life-long loves. Their relationship seemed to be based on physical attraction, not deep, tormenting love. At least thatís what it seemed like for JackÖ

Ennis did seem to actually be in love with Jack and his character seemed to suffer from not being with the one he loved, even though we never understood why he loved Jack so much. Jack on the other hand seemed to be more concerned with having gay sex than whether or not it was with Ennis. Jack had multiple male sex partners and seemed to be focused on how often he could get it. This is a huge problem in a movie that relies on the depth of a relationship to invoke emotions from the audience.

I felt at times that the filmmakers relied to heavily on the fact the two main characters were homosexual and sacrificed valuable storytelling in hopes that would be enough. I looked at this as a sellout on the part of Annie Proulx and Ang Lee and despite the marketing efforts, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN was more of a story of two cowboys struggling with their homosexuality than two cowboys struggling with their love for each other.

On a positive note, the film was beautifully shot and contained two of the best male performances Iíve seen in many years. I do agree that this is a good film that everyone should see, but I donít feel this is a ďclassicĒ or even one of the best films of 2005. Hopefully this will inspire a filmmaker to make a true story of homosexual love (see KISSING JESSICA STEIN for reference) and not a story about the struggles of being gay.
THE EXTRAS
Whatís that I hear? A special edition in the future? With these measly offerings, one can only assume a double dip is in the very near future.

On Being a Cowboy (5:42): Itís funny watching real cowboys talk about training Heath and Jake on how to be cowboys. I wonder how the real cowboys felt about the subject matter. Anyway, this is a good featurette about how the actors prepared to be cowboys and cowgirls.

Directing from the heart: Ang Lee (7:26): This is a simple featurette about Ang Lee and his decisions on the set. Everyone seems to like Mr. Lee, but no one offers any special insight.

From script to screen: Interviews with Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana (10:52): I was pleased that the two screenwriters got involved with the DVD, but theyíre not the ones I wanted to hear from. They didnít come up with the original idea and therefore they didnít tell us anything we didnít know.

Sharing the Story: The Making of Brokeback Mountain (20:48): This is a Logo Movie Special featurette, so you know itís for people that havenít seen the film. Itís true fluff and feels out of place. This was the last feature I watched and by this time I felt like Iíd seen this featurette before.

There are also some Previews.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
It may seem like I didnít like the film at all. Thatís not true. I definitely felt the film lacked the quality and emotional depth that an epic love story needs, but it is a good movie that has had an obvious impact on society because of its subject matter. Given that I really believe there will be a special edition in the future, I canít recommend anything but a rental.
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