I really liked Brokeback Mountain. I was a little nervous going in 'cause I'd heard how intense it is. And reading the book I had some idea. For me the most intense part was emotional, seeing these two people that loved each other so much, two men, struggle to live both with these emotions and with how to express it. I only lived for a short time in the west (I feel like South Dakota is more west than midwest in a lot of places), but I feel like Lee really captured it. As he seems to do with whatever setting his stories take place in. But I can only imagine how hard it would have been for a man to express love and tenderness in a time and place like that. It's hard now, so how much harder must it have been then?
It also rung true with my own experiences, living in a culture, or working within a system, that values a certain kind of relationship or expression with others. Most strongly when I was a teacher, and the school and classroom I was in brought out all these negative patterns of behavior that the students and I couldn't help but fall in to. That's why I really appreciated being a teaching assistant in grad school and I felt so able to express love for my students. I think true education is fundamentally a loving relationship, one that demands tenderness, understanding, discipline, purity, and humility.
I also really appreciated the pacing of the movie. It can feel a bit slow, but I realized that when you're out in the country, especially country like that, time moves differently. Here you always have some sense of how fast or slow you're going. You can always compare yourself to how fast others are walking, driving, talking, eating...getting money out of the ATM. But in rural western areas, your sense of time is largely based on the sky and the land. Or a cow grazing. It's a completely different concept. And I feel like the movie got it exactly right.
I've also realized that Ang Lee could make a movie based on a phonebook and it would be beautiful, moving, and poetic.