Wednesday, October 19, 2005

High Love in (Cine)Manila

Ledger and Gyllenhaal


THE screening of Yoji Yamada's “Hidden Blade” in a number of Manila’s theaters formally opened the 7th Cinemanila International Film Festival on October 12, while Ang Lee’s much-awaited gay cowboy romance, “Brokeback Mountain,” will close it on October 25.

With its theme “Buhayin ang Pelikulang Pilipino” (“Revive the Philippine Cinema”), the film festival aims to promote Filipino films to world cinema audiences and world cinema to the Filipino audience. Moreover, it wants to encourage more independent filmmakers.

Tikoy Aguiluz, Cinemanila festival director, and Manila Mayor Lito Atienza said a P1.5-million award awaits the grand prize winner of digital film competition, P1 million to second prize winner, P750,000 to the third prize, and P100,000 each to seven other finalists.

Ang Lee

I can’t wait to see again “Brokeback Mountain,” an epic Western about forbidden love. It’s a raw, powerful story of two young men—a Wyoming ranch hand and a rodeo cowboy—who meet in the summer of 1963 working as sheep herders amid a harsh mountain climate.

Based on a short story by Annie Proulx that was published in The New Yorker in 1997, “Brokeback Mountain” won the Golden Lion award in this year’s Venice International Film Festival. It features scenes filmed in the fabulous Canadian Rockies of Alberta, and has a fine cast led by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Annie Proulx

Ennis del Mar (played by Ledger) and Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal), meet in 1963 when they show up in Brokeback Mountain, Wyoming, for a summer job herding sheep on land owned by rancher Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid).

Ennis speaks of his parents who died in a vehicular accident, of his brother and sister who raised him, and of a woman named Alma whom he plans to marry. For his part, Jack says his stern parents are working the Texas rodeo circuit.

While the scenery is breathtaking, the two men have difficult days and nights, considering the risk of encountering bears and coyotes, and the biting mountain cold that they have to endure.

No wonder Ennis and Jack soon come to rely on each other totally.

One night Ennis decides to sleep by the fire rather than head off to his lonely post. When the fire dies in the wee hours of the morning he finds himself freezing, but thanks to Jack, who asks him to come join him in his tent.

(Aguirre wants to keep his herd safe by ordering one of his men to roam high in the mountains, sleeping rough with no fire, while the other stays in a base camp from summer to fall.)

And while they dismiss each other abruptly in the cold light of morning, their frantic coupling (prompted by a simple gesture) the night before has had a tremendous impact on their lives since, even during their respective marriages.

But what could be so romantic about herding numbers of sheep left to range far and wide?

Well, that’s for you to find out--in this movie (of melodic score and breathtaking cinematography by Gustavo Santaolalla and Rodrigo Prieto, respectively) which aims to appeal to those (whether gay or straight) who love grand filmmaking and poignant love stories.

Brokeback Mountain is one of the stories in this anthology


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