Wooo…it has been a long week for us, beloveds, and as much as we liked "Brokeback Mountain" and are at least a little intrigued by "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" (which we started to round up also, then were defeated by) we feel so saturated in coverage of both films that we’re left having to slap ourselves in the face to stay focused. Gay cowboys…Christ-figure fauna…all…blurring together… We’re going to come at you pullquote style here, because honestly, there’s nothing surprising that’s being said about "Brokeback" (which is pulling in solid, if not extremely enthused reviews) that hasn’t already been discussed, so we’re just skipping straight to everyone’s best turn of phrase/point:
Anthony Lane: "Rumor had it that ‘Brokeback Mountain’ was an explicit piece of work, and I was surprised by its tameness, although Lee‘s helplessly good taste, which has proved both a gift and a curb, was always going to lure him away from sweating limbs and toward the coupling of souls."
David Edelstein: "Cartman on ‘South Park’ famously dismissed independent movies as ‘gay cowboys eating pudding.’ I have no idea where the pudding image came from, but I’m bound to say that ‘Brokeback Mountain’ could use a little more of itâ€”by which I mean more sweat and other bodily fluids. Ang Lee’s formalism is so extreme that it’s often laughable, and the sex is depicted as a holy union: Gay love has never been so sacred."
Stephanie Zacharek: "This is an unconventional love story that’s carefully calibrated to offend no one. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ risks so much less than its characters do — it’s a closeted movie."
Armond White (semi-inexplicable once again): "Although Lee is adapting Proulx‘s short story (and implicitly claiming its New Yorker magazine pedigree), his film is actually â€” emotionally â€” based on the 1962 Hong Kongâ€“operetta movie ‘The Love Eterne.’"
Stephen Holden: "Mr. Ledger magically and mysteriously disappears beneath the skin of his lean, sinewy character. It is a great screen performance, as good as the best of Marlon Brando and Sean Penn."
Ella Taylor: "’Brokeback Mountain’ is at once the gayest and the least gay Hollywood film I’ve seen, which is another way of saying that Lee has a knack for culling universality from the most specific identities."
Nick Pinkerton: "Sure, Ang throws us some furtive touchy-feely, but ‘Brokeback”s shorthand for liberation involves a boy’s-life montage of the principals — Whoo-wee! — cliff-diving in the buff. I’m obtusely reminded of the skinny-dipping interlude in Merchant-Ivory’s film of Forster’s ‘A Room with a View’ — take heart, Ang: James Ivory‘s job may open up any day!"