January 17, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

Your standard story of love separated by circumstance, intolerance, social taboos, but, with, ya know, gay cowboys. Brokeback Mountain is intense and heartbreaking, thanks to the restrained eyes and ears of Ang Lee, and career-making performances by Heath Ledger (Oscar lock), Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, and Anne Hathaway.
The idea of two lonely sheepherders falling in love on top of a mountain in the middle of Nowhere, Wyoming, is completely believeable. Jack (Gyllenhaal) and Ennis (Ledger) spend one summer together in 1962, but despite their affection for each other, they don't really understand their own feelings until they meet again four years later. Jack is open to taking a chance on love, but Ennis understands that Jack is the only bit of happiness he's ever going to find in his going-nowhere life, and he hates himself for allowing himself to feel hope for the future when he knows their love is impossible. There are zero options for (I hate this cliche) their forbidden love.
Meanwhile, the parts for their wives in this movie could have been incredibly flat, but Michele Williams (Dawson's Creek) and Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries, Ella Enchanted, The Devil Wears Prada) play these roles with perfect precision. When I pointed out that Randy Quaid (as the sheepherding boss) has, like, three lines in the whole movie, Emily pointed out, "Nobody has any lines in this movie!" The movie's strength is the ability to convey so much information and emotion without words. (Showcase Cinemas Waltham [$5 Discount Tuesdays])

January 8, 2006

Five Movies in Six Days

rentTuesday January 3 • Rent • Arlington Capitol Theater • The music is fantastic, and the performances by (mostly) the original Broadway cast are wonderful. I think the pacing was very poor in places, which is cinematic poison in a movie with no real plot. Chris Columbus, who is allegedly a Steven Spielberg protoge, has none of Spielberg's talent for cinematic shorthand. When Roger decides to return to New York, Columbus shows Roger with the bus ticket, getting on the bus, and a long, lingering shot of the BUS DEPOT sign. Gee, I wonder what this is supposed to mean?

producers2006Wednesday January 4 • The Producers (2005) • Loews Church St, Cambridge • Who can you blame for this painfully faithful filming of the Broadway show The Producers? Tony-award-winning director and choreographer Susan Stroman, making her motion picture debut? Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, who play each gag and facial mug as if they're playing to the second balcony? Perhaps both. Perhaps if I saw the movie in a 1,000 seat sold-out theater on opening night, it would have fared better, but with half a dozen folks on a Wednesday afternoon, the gags all fall flat.

capoteThursday January 5 • Capote • Landmark Embassy Theater, Waltham • Wonderful performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman as Capote, and Clifton Collins Jr. as "In Cold Blood" killer Perry Smith. The screenplay (by actor-turned-writer Dan Futterman) is right on target. Director Bennett Miller, making his feature-film debut, seems to be in over his head. The music by Mychael Danna (The Ice Storm, Shattered Glass, Being Julia) is terminally cliched.

Saturday January 7 • King Kong (2005) • AMC Fenway • See my entry on December 16, 2005. The only difference is, this time, I left the theater for a bathroom break during the totally gross bug-fight sequence.

chroniclesSunday January 8 • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe • AMC Burlington • A delightful adaptation of C.S. Lewis's 100-page novel. The children playing Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter, are excellent, especially 9-year-old Georgie Henley as Lucy Pevensie. Tilda Swinton is perfect as Jadis the White Witch. James McAvoy is right on target as Mr. Tumnus.