By tully | Indiewire December 19, 2005 at 3:48AM
"Well that was definitely gayer than BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN." --Todd Rohal (director of the Slamdance competition entry THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE--www.guatemalanhandshake.com), on KING KONG. (He was referring, most specifically, to the Central Park icecapade sequence, which makes the slow-motion bed romp at the end of RETURN OF THE KING look like FIGHT CLUB.)
Todd and I actually did it on Friday. A 2:50 screening of BROKEBACK, then KONG at 7:00. My lower back and ass have been bitching at me all weekend. Sorry, guys. Anyway, I give both films four stars, with reservations.
KING KONG is too fucking long. By the time they got back to New York I felt like it should have been over. I simply crashed before the climax. I'm sure it didn't help that I'd spent the afternoon watching another two-hour plus film, but the fact remains that he could have trimmed some fat and crafted a leaner, meaner outright masterpiece. Still, it's a goddamn spectacle of a motion picture and it swept me away for 80% of it.
As for BROKEBACK, I don't know, man. I mean, don't get me wrong. I think it's an impressive achievement with a legendary, unforgettable final shot, but I wasn't as affected as I was hoping I would be. I guess it all comes down to one thing, which prevented me from giving in to the romance completely. Instead of Jack's jaunt to Mexico, I wish there had been a scene of him pining alone in his bedroom holding on to Ennis's shirt like it was all he had in the world. I know the point is that this was Jack's troubled way of dealing with his emotions, but to me he just looked like a sex-starved swinger. Even that seemingly inconsequential scene of him hitting on the guy in the bar. The way he was presented, I never totally grasped his "love" for Ennis. He just felt like a confused teenager who didn't think things through.
This is all a personal issue of mine, I realize that, but my allegiances lie with Ennis. A life of frustrated, sad loneliness is better than a neverending series of random fluke encounters. Why are people so fucking weak and unable to stand on their own two feet? In a sick way, I almost think Jack's behavior will provide fodder for homophobes. There wasn't much nobility in his actions, no matter how fucked up the circumstances were. If he had faced Ennis--and the world--the way he faced his prick father-in-law at Thanksgiving, perhaps that would have shown some heroism. As it was, Ennis was the film's only hero. Heath Ledger is a tough one to top this year, what with this and his hilariously insane performance in LORDS OF DOGTOWN.
Taking the hetero/homo aspect out of it, I have to say that I was more affected by the romance in WALK THE LINE than I was in BROKEBACK. This could be another example of the low-bar/high-bar theory. I wasn't expecting to like WALK THE LINE at all and I ended up liking it very much, whereas with BROKEBACK I was expecting for my life to be changed and it didn't meet my (admittedly extreme) expectations. I think it's a very good movie, it just isn't the masterpiece I was hoping for.
I just watched THE BEAT MY HEART SKIPPED. Since when did Paul Thomas Anderson start acting? And in a French film, no less? My good buddy Jane Rizzo was right (and she should know, considering she's a wonderful editor in her own right). This film has some astoundingly great editing. I wonder if this aesthetic was discovered in the editing room, or if that was the plan all along. Either way, I now know what the hype was about. In this case, my expectations were more than met.
In other news, today has reminded me why I curbed the alcoholism. I got rather shitsmashed at my sister's holiday party last night and today has been an almost total wash. Aside from work on the closing credits and a tiny bit of sound work, nothing else was accomplished.