i met dan this morning to catch the matinee of brokeback mountain at harvard square. he was working at his office in kendall square so was late to arrive and didn't expect to see a long line of people waiting to buy tickets (most of them were here to see brokeback, a few were geisha goers). fortunately there was 20 minutes worth of trailers before the movie started, so we didn't miss a thing. there was a trailer for casanova, starring heath ledger in the eponymous role as the world's most notorious heterosexual lover, which is an ironic farcry from his role in the movie we're about to see. before dan showed up, i was waiting outside, and heard a funny exchange between a spare change newspaper salesman and a couple walking down the street. "how're you two lovebirds? care to buy a newspaper?" he said. the girl snapped back angrily and shouted, "he's my brother!" awkwardness ensued. i as just happy to be there to witness it.
brokeback mountain is that gay cowboy movie you've been hearing so much about lately. the idea of the marlboro man getting it on with another marlboro man might be sacrilege to some people, but it's definitely a theme that hasn't been really explored in cinema, at least not in straight cinema. director ang lee is such an enigma: judging from his first few movies, like eat drink man woman or the wedding banquet, you'd think he'd one of those international critical darlings that only makes movies that get shown in art house cinemas. but the man has systematically gone against type, directing movies as varied as british period drama, civil war tale, martial art, and cgi action adventure. the common thread in a lot of his movies is a dream-like contemplative quality, and he puts a lot of emphasis on the emotional rather than physical (even in the hulk, our green giant spends a good deal of time just emoting). brokeback mountain is no different. the start of the movie we're introduced to ennis del mar (heath ledger) and jack twist (jake gyllenhaal) as they guide a flock of sheeps through the valleys of wyoming's big mountains. the landscape is amazing, and the two men are mere specks. ennis is the shy one, jack the more extroverted, and at first the two young men have a strictly business relationship, further hampered by the fact that both are classic cowboys of very few words. the more time they spend together however, they start to become friends. that right there could've been a movie all in itself, just two guys out in the mountains, guarding sheeps, killing coyotes, hunting elks for food. a boring movie, yes, but a movie. then one fateful cold night, as the two men share a tent in order to stay warm, something happened: like a spark that just ignited without any warning, they end up making love, even though neither of them knew what's going on. here's probably the only part of the movie where i held my disbelief: if they've never done it before with another man, how did they even know how to do it? where are the clumsy fumbles and awkward grabs and apologies thrown left and right? who's bottom and who's top? anyway, not a big deal, just something i noticed. even though both profess they're not gay ("i'm not queer," says ennis, looking out into the mountains, "me neither" replies jack), they end up spending the rest of their time in the mountains flocking sheeps by day and making love by night - that is until one day the sheep owner spots them cavorting with one another from a distance, and decides to cut their job short. the two men part ways, neither of them knowing if they'll ever going to see each other again. they both end up getting married to women and having kids, living lackluster lives, until one day jack writes a postcard to ennis, and the two men reunite. then for the next 2 decades, they'd escape from their wives and kids for "fishing trips" up on brokeback mountain. ultimately the movie is a tragedy, as both men must continue to lead their closeted lives (the place, the time, not a good idea to be an outspoken gay cowboy), spending their days apart when they yearn to be together. my favorite three scenes are (potential spoilers alert begins): 1) when ennis is naked and washing himself in the background and jack's face is in the foreground and you think jack's going to turn to take a peek, but he doesn't; 2) after the two men part ways after their first time in brokeback mountain, ennis pulls over to the side of the roads to vomit, not knowing if he'll ever see jack again; 3) the near to last scene when ennis is clutching jack's shirt. (spoilers alert ends) anne hathaway and michelle williams are awesome in the movie, if nothing else, it at least gives straight men something to look at. as jake's wife, hathaway had me from the start with her cowgirl outfit. there's a surprising amount of "oh snap!" moments, like when the men first reunite, or jack spending thanksgiving with his in-laws, or ennis' wife confronting him about his frequent fishing trips. i didn't get weepy during the movie, but i definitely heard some soft sobbing from the audience. the movie definitely gives you a lot to think about, and although it's not my usual kind of movies (there wasn't even any explosion), i'd recommended it.
afterwards dan went back to the office while i roamed around harvard square, trying to find christmas presents. this was exactly what i didn't want to be doing, shopping on the weekend with the crush of other people - especially this weekend, the last full weekend before christmas. i went to the coop bookstore but left without buying anything. next stop was black ink followed by urban outfitters, EMS, and beadworks. i dropped by the oxford spa to get a ruebenesque sandwich ($6, it was okay, i was really hungry) and came home to catch the SVU viewer's choice marathon on USA. i fell asleep and woke up in the evening for some leftover macaroni for dinner.