Friday, December 30, 2005

Two movie reviews for the price of one - "Brokeback Kong"

We saw "King Kong" a few days ago. Everything you've heard holds true - it's over 3 hours long, the effects are overwhelming, Kong and Ann (Naomi Watts) fall in love, Skull Island has a freakishly diverse ecosystem, the Empire State Building is the setting for a final epic face-off. If you're expecting some sort of new twist (Kong can TALK!), you'll be disappointed. But if you're looking for a amusement ride that's especially thrilling and well-built, Kong's your main monkey. My rating - a strong B-plus. I'd eek it up to an A-ish rating if it didn't feel somewhat bloated. Although I'd not trade the gross-out, creepy-crawly scenes in the Second Act for all the conciseness in the World. Peter Jackson is now officially the rightful heir to the epic director moniker George Lucas has dragged through the mud and worn to shreds over the last decade or so. While my usual appreciation for Adrian Brody was tested mightily by a thankless role and Jack Black over-acted the crap out of his ample frame, Naomi Watts is typically astonishing. She can emote more with just her face than a battalion of eight-headed Cameron Diazs could ever muster. LOVED her in David Lynch's freaky-cool "Mullholland Dr." DOUBLE LOVED her herein.

Even better than a big hairy ape - gay cowboys are cooler than at any time since the first Village People album. "Brokeback Mountain" was touching, stunning to look at, and unflinchingly full of emotion. I'm possibly being unfair, but my rating is an A-minus. The minus only comes from the caveat that the pacing never seemed to break into a full stride. Although the elegiac tone is entirely appropriate. I'm probably one of 37 people on the planet that liked "The Hulk", but here again Ang Lee's skills will rightly regain widespread acclaim. Heath Ledger's half-spoken, half-hidden Western dialect is frickin' cooler than a Windriver Range meltoff stream. Jake Gyllennhallenhagen is more uneven, but I now see he's true to the character portrayed in Annie Proulx's original shortstory (found on a funky coffeetable in the cafe, Muddy Waters, I've come to dig bigtime here in Santa Barbara). The supporting cast is uniformly good. The Wyoming vistas widen your eyes like a gutpunch. The tasteful allusions to the Matthew Sheppard murder in Laramie should be the focus of all those assface conservatives trying to do the reacharound on this movie's real meaning. Even if you've never met a cowboy, we can all imagine some of them being gay. I mean, puul-leeze!, look at their absolutely fabulous clothes. But in all seriousness, do yourself a favor and not only see this movie. Discuss it. Piss off the James Dobsons of the world and consider the truth behind the loneliness in denying your true heart. If you smoke, have a pack ready for after the movie. And nod in unison with the acknowledgement of how powerful a great film can be in making a reluctant society consider its hateful shortcomings.

We're heading back up to San Francisco later this morning. Maya's back on her West Coast schedule and happy as a young dog in the morning surf. No big plans for the New Year on our end. But if you want to be on my Year Ender mailing list, drop me a line. Hope your own plans for the next few daze give '05 the proper sendoff. Rock on.

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