Monday, January 23, 2006

So I finally saw Brokeback Mountain this weekend. I thought it was well-acted, beautiful to look at, and just about as interesting as a slow-moving, emotion-driven vehicle with mellow, twangy music, sheep, and a harmonica could ever hope to be. I also agree with the Conventional Wisdom that Heath Ledger deserves all kinds of awards, because no one ever has portrayed 20 years of sullen mumbling like he did, and no one ever will.

But I think I missed something, because I didn't leave the theater emotionally shaken, and the movie didn't haunt me in my dreams. I didn't shed a tear, or feel ill, or get angry. In fact, my only real visceral reaction was to cringe every time I saw Jake Gyllenhall's mustache in the film's third act. Hey there, Jack Twist, get many Village People jokes there in Texas?

My question is this: am I a bad person for simply appreciating Brokeback Mountain as a movie, instead of as an experience? Unlike most of you, I am old enough to somewhat relate to that era (if not the setting), but it just didn't touch me that deeply. Don't get me wrong... it did touch me. But only as a character study of two deeply flawed men who were trapped and ultimately destroyed by circumstances, some of their own making. It didn't touch me the way it seems to have touched so many others -- older and young alike -- leaving them emotionally raw and fragile, and with a conviction that Brokeback Mountain is not only the best picture ever, but also perhaps the only reason to live.

Oh wait. That's just Towleroad.

Maybe I'm just a heartless bastard. Eh, you'll get over it.

Can I add one more thing? (Too late!) I think the whole anti-Gene Shalit backlash of recent weeks was extreme overkill, but after seeing this movie I have to ask what the fuck he was thinking. He's just Gene Shalit, so it's not worth all the hyperbolic attention he received, but characterizing Gyllenhall's Jack Twist as a 'sexual predator' was a bit ridiculous. If he must be scorned, scorn him for being an idiot.