The low-down on this week’s premieres
Director Ang Lee (Hulk) takes audiences to the heartland of Wyoming in the early ’60s in Brokeback Mountain, a film that is already on many critics’ Top Ten lists, including mine. When ranch hand Ennis del Mar (Heath Ledger) and rodeo cowboy Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) are employed by local rancher Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid) to herd sheep on Brokeback Mountain, the two become friends and eventually lovers. Keeping their intimate relationship secret from everyone, Ennis and Jack go their separate ways once they leave the great outdoors. With Brokeback behind them, Ennis marries Alma (Michelle Williams) and has two daughters and Jack returns to the rodeo where he and fellow rider Lureen Newsome (Anne Hathaway) begin a courtship. Although apart for a few years, Ennis and Jack are reunited and realize their feelings for each other are still strong as they become caught between their regular lives and the moments they spend together.
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Nominated for seven Golden Globes this year, Brokeback Mountain is adapted by Globe-nominated screenwriters Larry McMurtry (Terms of Endearment novel) and Diana Ossana from a short story written by Pulitzer Prize-winner E. Annie Proulx (The Shipping News novel).
“(Proulx’s) writing is very spare, raw, realistic, descripitive, and evocative,” Ossana told the Current via phone. “It was just a beautiful short story.”
McMurtry, who was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, has been writing about the American West for the past 40 years. He said that in addition to the main characters, the desolate setting of the film brings its own meaning.
“(The location) shows the difficulties of life on the North Plains and cultural deprivation of people that are struggling with feelings they don’t know how to talk about.” `Read Cole Haddon’s interview with director Ang Lee and actor Jake Gyllenhaal in next week’s Current.`
Local premiere dates for limited-release films are tentative and can change at the last minute (the release date for this one changed at least twice; but we’re happy the date was moved up from January 20). Please check your local theater listings to confirm showtimes. •