Home > Uncategorized > Netflix Reviews: Brokeback Mountain, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Doctor Who

Netflix Reviews: Brokeback Mountain, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Doctor Who

Brokeback Mountain – A very well done film, and probably Ang Lee’s best since “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman.” The film could’ve very easily become hokie, and thankfully it didn’t. There were some shots that were absolutely breathtaking. In particular the “Fourth of July” scene, which was done with enough subtlety as to not make the undershot of Ennis with fireworks in the background overly dramatic.

The characters of Jack (Jake Gyllenhall) and Ennis (Heath Ledger) are fleshed out enough so that they aren’t just cardboard cowboys who happen to enjoy the company of men. This is very important to the film, especially expressing the different approaches for the two characters when it comes to their lifestyles. Ennis is played as a man who doesn’t lose sleep over the struggle with his sexuality, but clearly realizes that the time he lives in won’t allow for him to embrace Jack as his full-time partner. Jack on the other hand is very naive when it comes to the relationship, and holds onto the incorrect belief that they could somehow co-exist on a permanent basis without consequences.

That being said, this is certainly NOT the “message movie” that a lot of others would have you to believe it is (and I notice that more and more of the people who put that label on it never saw the film). In fact, the relationship they have doesn’t always make you sympathetic to the characters, especially in light of the adultery and the pain it inflicts on Ennis’ family. There’s really only two very brief (and by brief I mean literally less than ten seconds) flashback sequences that could be construed as delivering a message, but they’re necessary for the context of the film and they don’t beat you over the head with it.

Sidenote: Is there anyone that really thinks Ang Lee is part of some gay agenda that will somehow force homophobes to accept gay lifestyles by portraying two men who cheat on their wives with each other? This isn’t about reconstructing the views people hold toward homosexuals, but rather a love story about two individuals who for various reasons simply can’t find a life together, and aren’t sure they really want it to begin with. I wonder at times if the disapproval over the supposed emasculation of “the cowboy” isn’t part of a stereotypical mode that many people feel gays are, or should, be confined to. And that’s MY message, not the filmmakers’.

Highly recommended. There’s really only one scene that might potentially make people uncomfortable, but it’s very brief and not as “shocking” as you might think.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Having not seen the BBC television series since it was aired on PBS when I was a child, and not having any familiarity with the radio series or the books by Douglas Adams, I came into this with no preconceived notions of what it should or shouldn’t be. That being said, I was a little disappointed.

The performances are fine. Mos Def is entertaining in his role, and Martin Freeman plays the everyman thrown into a fantastic scenario to perfection. Sam Rockwell goes way over the top with the character of Zaphod without crossing the line into parody, but his portrayal does get to be a bit much at times. There are attempts to flesh out the character of Trillian (Zooey Deschanel), but it’s very clear that the character was thrown in there because someone felt there was a need for Arthur to have a love interest. In that sense, more often than not the character is simply there, which is no fault of the actress but rather haphazard writing.

It’s all good fun, but the entire time I was watching I couldn’t help but think that there was so much more that could’ve been done, and accomplished, with the film. Part of the problem is that some aspects of the Universe presented in the film are so fantastic that you get burned out after awhile and it starts to get mundane. There was a lot of potential in this film that was more or less wasted, in my opinion. This isn’t to say that the movie’s a waste, and I did enjoy it to an extent, but that nagging feeling just wouldn’t leave. I will say that the Vogons were very well done, and kudos to Garth Jennings for going with Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop rather than CGI. More often than not, that route will give creatures a much higher rate of believability than CGI will. It’s a lesson that more filmmakers in Hollywood need to take note of.

Recommended, but don’t expect TOO much. Oh, and check out this song and video someone made, “Zaphod Beeblebrox for President.” Very well done.

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I watched High and Low (Kurosawa’s nod to film noir about kidnapping and the cold-hearted nature of business) today, and will hopefully get to Ran (King Lear in a samurai setting) tomorrow afternoon after I get out of work. I received both films last Wednesday, but just got the time to watch one of them today. Honestly, I don’t know how those losers who sued Netflix because they were renting over a hundred films a month did it (answer: unemployment).

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I finally saw an episode of the latest “Doctor Who” re-launch (which now airs on Sci-Fi on Fridays at 9 and re-run throughout the weekend). I really enjoyed it, to the point where I think I’ll start making it appointment viewing. The particular episode I saw was the one wherein Rose (The Doctor’s assistant or whatever you want to call it) convinces The Doctor to take her back to 1987 so that she can be with her father when he dies. Very well done, and heartwrenching, episode. I look forward to the next one.

More later…

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  1. May 1, 2006 at 4:38 am

    Jack Mack thought the sex scene was not at all graphic. If not for the boobs, he said, the movie would be PG-13.

    • May 1, 2006 at 4:46 am

      He definitely has a point, although I don’t see any movie with two men being intimate ever getting anything other than an “R” rating. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the tits were thrown on there just to ensure an R rating and avoid a big debate over whether or not it was given a higher rating because two men were kissing each other.

  2. Anonymous
    May 8, 2006 at 3:01 am

    Nope

    “That being said, this is certainly NOT the ‘message movie’ that a lot of others would have you to believe it is (and I notice that more and more of the people who put that label on it never saw the film).” … “Sidenote: Is there anyone that really thinks Ang Lee is part of some gay agenda that will somehow force homophobes to accept gay lifestyles by portraying two men who cheat on their wives with each other?”

    And the mainstream media certainly isn’t part of that conspiracy either, because coverage of the movie (and I’m not just talking about Fox News here) has focused almost unendingly on the message aspects. Even though both the media and Hollywood can be left-of-center, they both still have other goals: making everything into a controversy sells more newspapers and gets higher ratings.

    Unfortunately, this seems to be a case where the fake controversy has misled people, myself included. Thanks for providing the first actual review of the movie I’ve read (and you know I read the news every day).

    – Ed.

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