Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cowboy Love

I watched 3:10 to Yuma a few days ago. Russell Crowe plays an outlaw that a rancher (Christian Bale) must escort to a train.

Crowe and Bale often play characters well, and this movie is no exception. Crowe's Ben Wade is magnetizing, by turns charming, hypnotic, and coldly efficient. Rancher Dan Evans is a real hard luck case, and as the film is watched, the viewer cannot help but wish he would unleash the stone killer that must certainly be lurking inside him. Ben Foster plays one of the most interesting characters, as Wade's lieutenant with an obvious crush. Foster must believe doing odd things with his voice is important, because his mumble in this role is as distinctive as his squealing tone in Thirty Days of Night.

3:10 to Yuma has a great cast, and is well acted. I subtract half a star for stretching my suspension of disbelief a little, and I'll give it back just because Ben Wade is such a wonderfully bad man, as he plays his life with enjoyable zest. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Here's the review I know you all have been waiting for: Brokeback Mountain. In all likelihood, you've already seen this cinematic masterpiece. If not, minor spoilers follows.

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal play young men with ranching backgrounds who meet while working herding sheep on forestry lands during the summer in the late 1960s. One thing leads to another, and romance follows.

Ledger's Ennis Del Mar takes a string of get-by ranching jobs while entering a doomed marriage, while Gyllenhaal's Jack Twist eventually squanders a marriage to Lureen Newsome (played by the toothsome Anne Hathaway). As a child, Ennis saw a gay couple horribly killed, and when Jack Twist keeps driving down to "go fishing" with him, he refuses to leave to set up dude ranching.

The scenery in the mountains is often gorgeous, and the two actors play their roles well, but the story is dreary. Perhaps director Ang Lee meant to show how persecution of homosexuals can ruin lives, but the movie often seems to mostly exist to show two hot young male commodities having angry man-sex. Heath Ledger seems to have lifted Billy Bob Thornton's grumble from Slingblade, but it's good enough that I'll give the film an extra half star. 2.5 out of 5 stars.


Matt G said...

" In all likelihood, you've already seen this cinematic masterpiece."

You were either speaking tongue in cheek, or you grade hard. I found the movie rather beautiful in its tragedy. I had reservations about seeing it, because I had already long since read the short story in Annie Proulx's Wyoming Stories, the entirety of which is dark and sad.

I've not seen 3:10 To Yuma. I think I'll put it into the NetFlix queue.

J.R.Shirley said...

You're a strange man, Matt. But I love ya.

Tragedy alone cannot be beautiful, though there can be a "beautiful death". Films exist for escapism, Matt. If folks wanted drearyness, most of them can just look around: there's no need to go pay $8.50.

Don't expect great cinema from 3:10, but Crowe is fun to watch. You *might* see a beautiful tragedy in it.

Tam said...

"If folks wanted drearyness, most of them can just look around: there's no need to go pay $8.50."

I should call Oleg right now. I've tried to state that very thing to him a million times and couldn't get the words right. Brilliant.

phlegmfatale said...

You really need to cut and paste that link and see the 30-second bunny version - I think it saves a whole lot of time, and I got just as much from the truncated version. Visually, it was a stunning film, but otherwise, it was tedious and underwhelming to me.

phlegmfatale said...

aw, crud - just go here and clickon the BM link:

Matt G said...

Well, okay.

I don't live in 1960's Wyoming.
I don't wander the mountains to shoot coyotes and wolves off of sheep.
I don't look purty in a pair of jeans. Heh.
I also don't have a tragic love that is doomed and possibly dangerous to possess.

That's escapism, one way or t'other.

And visually stunning is a damned worthy thing. Tell me-- was it only the pretty prose that made Romeo and Juliet such a classic, or was it not also the beguiling tale of two lovers who could never be together, which has made it hang on so long?

As uncomfortable as I was watching the 2 or three minutes of cowboy sex in the flick, the rest of it was a beautiful love tragedy. I'm not big on tragedies, but when they touch the heart, I can admit it.

I'm not a big fan of feeling bad, so I especially avoid horror flicks, which are either hokey, or bring up an emotion that I tend to like to avoid.

I'd have been a lot happier with it if there'd been more gunplay with the M94, though. ;)

Matt G said...

Phlegmmy, the original link you posted worked fine, but I sure don't remember that last part, with the inter-species sex in the wardrobe.

phlegmfatale said...

you must've blinked, matt-- that was the best part!