Friday, January 06, 2006

It's All About Jake

Ross Douthat actually ended up liking Brokeback Mountain, but his initial fears were warranted:

Jake Gyllenhaal Must Be Stopped:

I'm trying, really I am. I saw the trailer, I read the breathless article, and I'm trying to take it seriously. Ang Lee, The Hulk aside, is an often-superb director. Larry McMurtry, who penned the script, is one of the great middlebrow American novelists; like the best of Stephen King, I suspect McMurtry's books will be read long after many of his more "literary" rivals have vanished from the scene. And Annie Proulx, whose story the film is based on - well, she's pretentious as hell, but certainly talented.But Brokeback Mountain isn't just a love story about gay cowboys - which sounds awfully like a bad parody of a Hollywood pitch meeting. ("It's Unforgiven meets Philadelphia! Legends of the Fall meets In and Out! And we'll make one of the cowboys autistic - is Sean Penn available to play him . . . ?") It's a love story about gay cowboys starring Jake Gyllenhaal.Nightmarish as this sounds, it does raise a significant question. Which is more giggle-inducing - Jake Gyllenhaal as a gay cowboy, or Jake Gyllenhaal as a Desert Storm Marine? We'll find out soon enough.

Well, my wife couldn't stop laughing every time Jake made an appearance on screen. Let's just say he was less believable than Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. That is to say, the intense stare and loud voice didn't propel the plaintive "Why can't I quit you?" to the level of "I could have been a contender, I could have been somebody!"

Douthat doesn't think Ledger reaches the level of Brando either, but I think he gets very close. He is utterly believable in the role and with the help of Michelle Williams makes the movie worth seeing.


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