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Brokeback Mountain (SE)
DVD disk
Feb 9, 2007 By: Jason Adams
Brokeback Mountain (SE) order
Director:
Ang Lee

Actors:
Heath Ledger
Jake Gyllenhaal
Michelle Williams

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Two cowboys unexpectedly fall in love while herding sheep in 1963 Wyoming, a secret they must live with as they each raise families and try to live a normal life.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
My first year in college I had a professor who assigned us a short story by Annie Proulx called Brokeback Mountain. All she told us was that it won a bunch of awards and was about cowboys. Boy, was I in for a surprise...

Perhaps because I had read the story beforehand and knew what was going to happen, I found myself looking at my watch more than a few times throughout BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. Ang Lees direction of the drama and the landscape are definitely Oscar-worthy. The acting is equally terrific by everyone involved, especially a heartbreaking Michelle Williams and a powerhouse performance from Heath Ledger (even if his SLING BLADE-like accent was indecipherable at times). But overall I just didnt feel that captivating, emotional kick that wouldve made it great, instead of a good yet slow movie.

It indeed felt like a 25 page narrative expanded to 2+ hours, at least in the pacing. Things that are alluded to in one line of the story get stretched out to fill up time, and as a result supporting characters and subplots keep getting added that get a scene or two of screentime but have little effect. We see Jack stand up to his father in lawbut we dont ever see how that affects his life afterwards. Anna Farris shows up for a hot minute that doesnt serve much purpose. Enniss relationship with Cassie is nice, yet the issues with his wife are neither resolved nor mentioned. And I did enjoy the scene with his daughter at the end, but again, this is the second time weve seen her as a real character, so the emotional effect is diminished. The result of this is that the main story, the relationship between Ennis and Jack, gets the shaft (no pun intended). You do feel the bond between the two, thanks to the acting, but its not as deep as it could be. Towards the end they mention that its been 20 years since they met, but it doesnt feel like that at allmaybe because weve only seen their characters together a few times in the last hour. (Or it could be that they look like they aged three yearssimply giving Donnie Darko a rockin pornstache does not make him look 40.)

I focused a lot on its faults, but BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is a decent drama with some good performances backing it up. If the subject matter doesnt appeal to you, the man-love only occurs in a few scenes. And the guys do it with (naked) women also.
THE EXTRAS
This new Collectors Edition is a repeat of the last release with two new (*) featurettes and a picture gallery. It also gets my vote for the most smug DVD Ive ever seen.

*A Groundbreaking Success (17:14): Talk about tooting your own horn. Theres some mention of the social implications of the film, but mostly its Oh look how important we are! Look how much money we made! The movies been out for a year and theyre already making extras like this and putting the word timeless on the cover. Hold your horses, people.

And I dont want to be too immature (this is JoBlo.com after all), but one of the producers says The script absolutely got inside of me. Hehehe.

*Music from the Mountain (11:19): A look at the use of music in the movie, from Gustavo Santaolallas simple yet memorable guitar score to Willie Nelsons closing credits song. I still think the importance and effect of music in film is too often overlooked, so its nice to see it get attention like this.

*Impressions From the Film (2:34): A slideshow of random images from the movie. My impressionpointless.

From Script to Screen: Interviews with the writers Larry McMurtry and Dianna Ossana (10:54): I lost count of how many times words like incredible, perfect, and beautiful are repeated in this featurette. Seriously, its pretty much 10 minutes of cast and crew touching themselves while talking about the screenplay.

Sharing the Story: The Making of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (20:46): A Making Of special that aired on LOGO (the LGBT channel). Its pretty much your standard PR documentary, never delving too deep in to the material and instead opting for very surface level interviews (and self-praise) with the cast and crew.

Directing From the Heart (7:26): Everyone on the project speaks very highly of Ang Lee in this extra and you gotta give the man credit for not only his talent as a director, but for consistently tackling diverse and challenging films. Even if he says things like, I like the taste of that soundBROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.

On Being a Cowboy (5:45): A piece on the preparations and stunt work necessary for the actors to accurately portray cowboys (and cowgirl), which comes across very authentic and natural in the film. Ledger and Hathaway already had experience in riding horses, but Gyllenhaal needed to be roughed up.

No trailers or previews, but the set does come with eight collectible Postcards featuring shots from the movie. Send one to each of your homophobic friends!
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Whether or not BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN will ever be remembered as anything other than the gay cowboy movie remains to be seen. As of right now, its a well-told story and a well-directed and acted film, but I think its been a tad overhyped as a new classic simply because of its subject matter. This new Collectors Edition only has a couple more extras than the last release, but it seems to be in love with itself as much as Jack and Ennis are with each other.

Extra Tidbit: The 1998 episode of South Park entitled Chefs Chocolate Salty Balls featured the fortuitous line, "Independent films are those black and white hippie movies. They're always about gay cowboys eating pudding." I'm pretty sure I saw a Snack Pack in Heath Ledger's tackle box.
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