In the past few days, a number of readers contacted me eager to hear my take on Ang Lee‘s Brokeback Mountain which opens today. Some have forwarded reviews while others wondered how well it would do at the box office. While I have not followed the build-up to this flick’s release as closely (or with as much anticipation) as Malcontent (who has devoted a whole blog category to the film) like many gay film buffs, I’m eager to see it.
Indeed, today marks the release of two movies I am most eager to see, that and Andrew Adamson‘s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. While Brokeback represents a kind of adult fantasy of mind, Narnia is one of my childhood fantasies.
Given the anticipated crowds for both flicks, I have decided to stay home tonight and will watch instead the 40th anniversary DVD of The Sound of Music, one of my favorite all-time movies. I’ll grant it’s sometimes quite an experience to see a movie on opening day. When you’re in the middle of a crowd of eager filmgoers, many who have long anticipated the film’s release, it seems like you’re part of something larger than just that moment. And that environment open makes a good film often seem epic.
But, tonight I’ve decided to bypass that opportunity. It’s been a busy week and I could use the quiet time. With only a few hours sleep, I might not appreciate either of these films as much as I would after a decent night’s sleep.
So, I’ll just comment on the serendipity of their release. In Narnia, we have a fantasy world where children meet mythical and magical figures and yet confront the issues with which all of struggle. And we have the Aslan, the wise father-figure, whose image helps guide the children as his gentle reproach help us all find the right path. Helmed by Adamson (who directed the original and entertaining animated feature Shrek), the very cast suggests the quality of the picture. Liam Neeson voices Aslan while Tilda Swinton gives life to the White Witch. Hopefully this role with bring Swinton’s talents to the attention of a much broader audience than those who enjoyed her brilliant perfromances in a number of independent features.
Directed by Ang Lee and featuring two of the most talented (& attractive) young actors, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal promises also to be a powerful flick. This tale of forbidden love between two cowboys represents another step forward for gay cinema. A gay romance, released by a major Studio (Universal’s “specialty film unit” — Focus Features) and directed by an Oscar-nominated director with a diverse portfolio of films, this flick is just another example of the mainstreaming of gay culture.
And just as Narnia tapped into my childhood fantasies, Brokeback‘s very imagery taps into my adult ones. I have long had a thing for cowboys. My novel began as a fantasy of the relationship that develops when two former high school acquaintances run into each other as adults at a rodeo in Texas.
After a disappointing year for films, the end of the year is shaping up nicely. Perhaps, Hollywood would not have suffered the slump it had during the better part of the year if it had done what it appears to be doing now, drawing on stories which have delighted children for generations and appealing to a large group of movie lovers eager to see their stories on the silver screen.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com