February 27th, 2006

cass groovy

Review: Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain nearly lost me in the first few minutes.

Harrison Ford often tells a story about a Columbia executive who reviewed one of Ford's early screen tests. "Look," said the Columbia exec, "a star has PRESENCE. When Tony Curtis first walked onscreen carrying a bag of groceries -- a bag of groceries! -- you took one look at him and said, 'THAT'S a movie star!'"

"That's funny," Ford said. "I thought you were supposed to think he was delivering groceries."

In the early shots of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, the two protagonists, in need of work, are waiting around the outside of a ranch office for the owner to show up. Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) tucks his head down under the brim of his hat and leans against a wall; he stands on one foot with the other pushing into the wall behind him. Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) steps out of his old pick-up and leans against the vehicle, stretching out. And I laughed.

I laughed because they looked ridiculous. They didn't look casual; they looked posed. They weren't trying to relax, but to look dramatic; Gyllenhaal came off the worst, because he didn't lean on the truck like a redneck, but like he was Jake Gyllenhaal playing redneck for a Vanity Fair cover shoot.

They looked, in short, like movie stars. The movie went on from there.

Collapse )