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Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Ya know it could be like this, just like this always.

— Jack Twist

Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain was the seminal movie that ignited my passion for the cinemas. I was obsessed with this movie when it came out. I didn’t see most of the Best Picture nominees that year for that reason. It was the be all, end all for me. It went on to when three Oscars including Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Original Score. The Oscars were on my “shit list” for a long time that it did not win Best Picture, instead of giving it to Crash.

Summer 1963. Wyoming. A gruff rancher named Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and brooding Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) help out sheep herder Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid) move his flock on Brokeback Mountain without the park rangers smelling him out. It seems like everyday is the same with eating beans, watching the sheep; Ang Lee brilliant direction makes it fascinating to watch their relationship unfolded. Jack’s innocence softens Ennis’s tough exterior. He begins to express himself more.

One night, their friendship is changed forever after a night of drinking they have sex. Multiple questions arise: did Jack forced himself Ennis? Did they come together because they were the only humans around? Afterwards, they try to shake it off as a one time only occurrence. They can’t because they are beginning to fall in love with each other.

They thought that they could keep their relationship secret, but it is the worst kept secret. The work they are sent to do suffers as Aguirre’s flock is confused with another sheep herder and a massive snow storm cut their time short. Jack and Ennis have to go their separate. They don’t work to leave each other’s side, but it was a different time in 1963. They can’t run away together and go to Greenwich Village or San Francisco.

Ennis marries his longtime girlfriend, Alma (Michelle Williams) and quickly starts a family with her. Jack tries to get back into the rodeo circuit, but he  meets the forward, Lureen Newsome (Anne Hathaway). I never realized that each guy married a female version of each other. Alma is passive like Jack and Lureen is more take charge like Ennis. They try to lead “regular” lives as fate steps in to turn their worlds upside down.

I remember the first time that I saw the film at the Landmark Theater back in Houston. It was a couple of days after it opened in limited release that December. The line for the movie was around the corner. It was amazing to see straight and gay couples wanting to see this movie. The movie was packed. It sat on the very back of the theater. I wanted to soak the experience in. I’m glad I did. I laughed. I cried. I went on a journey with these characters.

Oh, how I love this movie. Let me count the ways. The beautiful, breathtaking mountain peaks captured on video by Rodrigo Pietro, the haunting score by Gustavo Santaolalla, the excellent acting by Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Williams. I was surprised that the movie only won three Oscars. It boggles the mind.

The movie is not perfect. I did have some troubles with Anne Hathaway towards the end of the movie and some of the small female roles were throw aways like Anna Faris and Linda Cardellini. There was also the conclusion of the relationship. It was a little cliché.

Judgment: This is a prime example of why the Oscars don’t know what the fuck qualifies as the Best Picture of the year.

Rating: 9.5/10

1001 Movie Club: The Last Picture Show (1971)

Stephen Jay Schneider chose this movie as one of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.” He compiled a massive list from the classic to the obscure for his anthology. The most worthy movies are chosen to be on this list. Every year, there is a revision to include the most essential movies to be on the minds of film buffs everywhere.

I personally picked The Last Picture Show as one of the selections on the 1001 Movie Club for this month. I don’t know why. I guess I have a love of Cloris Leachman and that Jeff Bridges in getting so much Oscar attention now that I would go back to the beginning of his career where he received an Oscar nomination with this movie. It was nominated for nine Oscars and won two Supporting Oscars for Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman. People might not get into a story about a small town, but I kinda did.

Based on the book by Larry McMurtry, the movie is set in the small town of Anarene, Texas in the early 1950s, taking a look at the year in the lives of the inhabitants this particular town. You might think that nothing happens in the town, but the small actions can be the newest town gossip.

The movie lays out the coming of age story of the meek Sonny Crawford (Timothy Buttons) and his life long friend with the gruff Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges). They both are captains of the Sonny is in a relationship with the pudgy Charlene (Susan Taggart) that he doesn’t love, but he is in love with Duane’s girlfriend, the privileged Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepard). On their anniversary, Sonny breaks up with Charlene.

Jacy’s mother, Lois (Ellen Burstyn) wonders why Jacy could associate herself with a roughneck that is not suitable. Jacy rebels against her mother to spend more time with Duane. Sonny’s gym teacher, Mr. Popper (Bill Thurman) asks him to be a driver for his wife, Ruth (Cloris Leachman) to her various appointments to the local clinic in favor to skip out his civics class. He takes Ruth to her appointment and they have a connection.

At town social, Sonny and Ruth begin to start an illicit affair. Duane lets his feelings known to JAcy, who doesn’t love him leaves with another privileged kid, Lester Marlow (Randy Quaid) to naked pool party about Bobby Sheen’s (Gary Brockette) house. Jacy is infatuated with Bobby, but he cannot have sex with her until after she loses her virginity. Jacy is on a quest to break her hymen quickly.

Sonny has run-ins with the locals like waitress, Genevieve (Eileen Brennan), Silent Billy (Sam Buttons) who is the son of Sam the Lion (Ben Johnson) who owns the pool hall the youth hangs out at, the movie theater and diner that Sonny frequents.

Before the two buddies graduate and go off their separate ways, Sonny and Duane take a overnight trip to Mexico and back. When they come back, they realized that their world is crumbling down before them when there is a sudden death in their absence.

These people are stuck in a different time and place. When you are bored, you would do stupid, dangerous things. Have some sort of excitement in their ho-hum little lives. The crazy shit I’ve ever done with when I was bored out of my mind. I understood why the people did what they did. It might be morally wrong in a conservative, but they need to have some excitement in their lives. I don’t blame them.

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

1001 Movie Club Approved

Judgment: This is an accurate portrait of small town life.

Rating: ***1/2

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