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PCR # 301  (Vol. 6, No. 52)  This edition is for the week of December 26--31, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Brokeback Mountain"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Four stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

The History of Miami International Airport -- Part Three....2005 Index
 by Will Moriaty
Also see This issue's La Fla supplemental piece
"Brokeback Mountain"
 by Mike Smith
Walking the Fine Line...
 by Mike "Deadguy" Scott
Wow, 2005 Really Did Exist!...Finally Getting Their Just Due....A Thought for 2006
 by Vinnie Blesi
The Top 20 Albums of 2005
 by Terence Nuzum
One New Life
 by Mark Terry
The Beginning and the End: Ups and Downs From The Year 2005 .... Gaming .... Politics
 by Joshua Montgomery
The Top 10 Things That Pissed Me Off In 2005
 by Nick King
Hello Gang....Internet Troubles!
 by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
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Focus Features     
Starring: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhall, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams and Randy Quaid
Directed by: Ang Lee
Rated: R
Running Time: 2 hours 14 mins

If you've heard of the film "Brokeback Mountain," you've probably heard the words "gay cowboy movie" in the mention. But that is such a slight. Yes, the two main characters are cowboys. And, yes, the two do carry on a secret affair for 20-plus years. But in between their times together is a story about secret love and the tragedies it can bring.

In 1963, Jack Twist (Gyllenhall) and Ennis Del mar (Ledger) apply for work as sheep tenders for rancher Joe Aguirre (Quaid). Aguirre tells them they will be spending the next few months up on Brokeback Mountain. One is to stay in the camp and the other to sleep among the sheep each night to prevent them from being rustled. One night a storm catches them both in camp. Jack goes to his tent but Ennis decides to rough it outside. As the temperature drops, Jack invites Ennis to come huddle for warmth. Soon the huddling turns to cuddling. The next morning, as he rides out to the sheep, Ennis tells Jack that what happened was just a one shot thing. However, as the summer turns into fall, they find themselves building on a relationship neither of them thought was possible. Jack begins talking about the two of them starting their own ranch but Ennis knows that can never happen. When he was younger, he witnessed a rancher beaten to death by others because of his suspected lifestyle. He tells Jack, "if this thing grabs hold of us at the wrong place, wrong time...we're dead."

When the season ends, Jack and Ennis go their own way. Ennis to Wyoming, where he works on ranches and Jack to Texas, where he rides bulls. They both have gotten married and started families. Life seems good. A postcard from Jack finds Ennis and they meet to go fishing. There they talk about where they are now. Ennis seems happy and is proud of his daughters. Jack's father in law is very rich and very pompous. He feels his daughter has married beneath her station and insists on calling Jack "rodeo." As their fishing weekend ends they both realize that a connection was made all those years ago. As time goes on, things change. Ennis' wife, Alma (Williams) suspects he and Jack are more then just fishing buddies and divorces him. Jack again tries to convince Ennis to start a ranch but he is reluctant to do anything that will draw attention to them, fearful of retribution. As time passes, it's obvious that love is hard to handle, no matter who you are.

Credit director Ang Lee with taking what could have been a very stereotypical story and crafting a true love story. As I mentioned earlier, this is a love story full of tragedies. If Jack and Ennis were teenagers they would be Romeo and Juliet. If they were American and Puerto Rican, they would be Tony and Maria in "West Side Story." The fact that they are both men is really second to the true story. And it is that story that makes the film one of the best this year. The cast is excellent all around. Both Williams and Hathaway portray wives that don't understand the bond their husbands have. But while Ennis is all Alma has, Jack's wife has her father's money to occupy her time. Gyllenhall adds this performance to his work in "Jarhead" to announce his arrival as a first rate actor. But the star here is Ledger. Speaking in a low tone through constantly clenched teeth, Ennis is a man who's afraid to love. Be it his wife or his friend, the fear is there, and Ledger captures that fear perfectly. The photography is outstanding. The film looks like a series of postcards taken at the height of natures beauty, with each scene adding a perfect backdrop to the story.

A love story told this well is something that should be seen and appreciated. Whether it's a man and a woman, a dog and cat or even two cowboys, a great story is hard to resist. On a scale of zero to four stars I give "Brokeback Mountain"  Four stars

This week's movie review of "Brokeback Mountain" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.