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Pop Culture

'Brokeback Mountain' director wrote a moving tribute to Heath Ledger 15 years after his death

Hard to believe he's been gone that long.

heath ledger, ang lee, brokeback mountain

Heath Ledger in 2006.

“Brokeback Mountain,” Ang Lee’s beautiful film about love and repression, was a turning point for LGBTQ cinema in 2005 because it was one of the few mainstream Hollywood films to put a love story between two men front and center.

These days, such a film would hardly raise eyebrows, but 17 years ago it was the subject of scorn from conservative circles for pushing the “gay agenda.” Its stars, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, took considerable risks making the film because it could have jeopardized their status as leading men. But their pitch-perfect performances helped make the edgy material relatable to the general public.

Film critic Roger Ebert perfectly explained why the story resonated with people in his 2005 review. "'Brokeback Mountain' has been described as 'a gay cowboy movie,' which is a cruel simplification,” he wrote.


"It is the story of a time and place where two men are forced to deny the only great passion either one will ever feel,” he added. “Their tragedy is universal. It could be about two women, or lovers from different religious or ethnic groups—any 'forbidden' love."

Fifteen years after Ledger’s death, Lee praised his performance in Empire magazine’s Greatest Actors issue. As a director, Lee was able to explain why his subtle performance as Ennis, a repressed cowboy, worked perfectly in the film in ways that the general public may have missed.

“Heath Ledger was a brilliant young actor. God only knows what he would have achieved later in life. He had so much talent—I’m sure he would have been a great director,” Lee wrote in Empire.

“Brokeback Mountain has the elegiac mood of a Western and an inner-twisted repression—Ennis is a very repressed character, macho but gay, gay but homophobic—and often there is no vocabulary to express his feelings," Lee continued. "So Heath’s aura powers the whole story. He did a lot of preparation, mostly on his own. And he often surprised me with what he brought to his work.”

Any actor can “go big” and chew up the scenery with a flashy performance, but portraying a character with nuance is a lot harder.

“What stays with me is the nuance, the quieter moments,” Lee wrote. “The trick is to know how to turn a performance down and still shape it. There is a scene I remember very clearly, where an old girlfriend [Linda Cardellini] runs into Ennis at a diner. Ennis is alone, eating a slice of apple pie. Linda is acting her heart out, she’s in tears, confronting Ennis: ‘Why did you do this?’ But she doesn’t get a word from him. Throughout the whole scene, Heath does nothing: he just eats the apple pie. But watching the dailies, the crew were all crying too, saying, ‘Just leave the guy alone!’ I both understood, and cherished, Heath’s quietness, the subtlety of the moment, and how he carried himself in that scene. We are all very lucky we were able to make movies with an actor of that calibre. He had a God-given gift.”

It is sad to contemplate the incredible talent taken from the world when Ledger died at the young age of 28. But by creating a character that helped mainstream America understand that heterosexual love isn’t the only type worth fighting for, he helped to create a better world for so many who didn't have a voice.

Ledger had the perfect response to a reporter who said people may be disgusted by the film.

“It's obviously about two men in love and it's obviously gay-themed and it's very easily labeled, but unfortunately, people are quick in life to label something that they're uncomfortable with,” Ledger said at a press conference. “The pure fact of it is that it transcends a label. It's human. It's a story of two human beings, two souls who are in love. Get over the fact it's two men. That's the point…

"And if you can't understand that, just don't go see the movie," Ledger concluded.

Pedro Pascal and Bowen Yang can't keep a straight face as Ego Nwodim tries to cut her steak.

Most episodes of “Saturday Night Live” are scheduled so the funnier bits go first and the riskier, oddball sketches appear towards the end, in case they have to be cut for time. But on the February 4 episode featuring host Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian,” “The Last of Us”), the final sketch, “Lisa from Temecula,” was probably the most memorable of the night.

That’s high praise because it was a strong episode, with a funny “Last of Us” parody featuring the Super Mario Brothers and a sketch where Pascal played a protective mother.

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AMC Theaters/Youtube, Variety/Twitter

AMC announced that it would be implementing a new three-tier ticketing system.

AMC Theaters, America’s largest movie theater chain, announced on Feb 6 that it will be adopting different ticket prices based on seat location.

Moviegoers will have three tiers to choose from based on sightline of the movie screen—Preferred Sightline, set in the middle at the highest price point, Value Sightline, set in the front of the auditorium at the lowest price, and Standard Sightline, which is basically everything else (including the back seats, which are perhaps the most commonly picked) set at the traditional cost of a ticket.

In other words…heartbreak will feel more expensive in a place like this…or less, depending on where you sit



The company’s announcement was met with both criticism and approval. While some feel the move follows a well-established business model, others have found it to be taking away a valued aspect of the moviegoing experience.

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Pop Culture

Keanu Reeves shocks a small-town pub by stopping in for a pint and taking photos with the staff

“So today we had a surprise visitor for lunch. What a lovely man he was, too."

Keanu Reeves in São Paulo, Brazil, 2019.

Keanu Reeves has a reputation as one of Hollywood’s nicest celebrities. Recently, he cheered up an 80-year-old fan who had a crush on him by calling her on the phone. He’s also bought an ice cream cone for a fan to give an autograph on the receipt and crashed a wedding to take photos with the bride and groom.

He’s also an incredible humanitarian who gave up a big chunk of his money from "The Matrix" to a cancer charity.

The “John Wick” star was his usual gracious self over the weekend when on Saturday, February 4, he and a friend walked into The Robin Hood pub in Tring, Hertfordshire, about 30 miles outside of London.

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via Pexels

A mother puts a fresh diaper on her baby.

Scientists at Penn State University have devised a “smart diaper” that alerts parents when their baby is wet. The diaper is made of paper, treated with sodium chloride (salt) and has a circuit board drawn with a pencil.

When the humidity level rises in the diaper, the graphite and the urine are absorbed by the paper and it turns on a sensor powered by a small lithium battery. The sensor then sets the alarm on an app that parents download onto their phones.

“The hydration sensor is highly sensitive to changes in humidity and provides accurate readings over a wide range of relative humidity levels, from 5.6% to 90%,” the researchers at Penn State said in a statement.

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Pop Culture

Kelly Clarkson and Pink's gorgeous unplugged 'What About Us?' duet came with a timely​ message

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry…"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson teamed up for a sweet acoustic version of "What About Us?"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson are both known for having powerhouse voices that can belt at incredible ranges but also soften for a sweet ballad. Put the two of them together, and…well, dang.

On Feb 6, Clarkson featured Pink on her daytime talk show, in which she often sings with musical guests. The two superstars sang several acoustic duets with pitch-perfect harmonies, prompting fans of both artists to clamor for a collaborative album.

One song they sang together was Pink's "What About Us?" Pink previously described the song to The Sun in 2017: "The world in general is a really scary place full of beautiful people. Humans are resilient and there's a lot of wonderful—like I said in the song—'billions of beautiful hearts' and there are bad eggs in every group. And they make it really hard for the rest of us."

In the intro to their duet, Clarkson asked Pink about the impetus behind her writing the song.

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry and people are being forgotten," Pink shared. "People are being counted out and their rights are being trampled on just because a group of people doesn't believe in them."

"Like, I don't understand how so many people in this world are discounted because one group of people decided they don't like that," she continued. "And I won't—I won't have it. One of the most beautiful things that my dad taught me was that my voice matters and I can make a difference, and I will."

The lyrics of the song seem to address the political leaders and decision-makers who hold people's lives in their hands as they pull the levers of power. It's a beautiful song with an important message wrapped up in gorgeous two-part harmony.

Enjoy:

Saturday Night Live/Youtube

"It's a me."

Pedro Pascal and HBO seem to be a match made in pop culture heaven. His role in the fourth season of “Game of Thrones” shot him to notoriety. He’s currently starring in “Last of Us,” which also boasts a massive viewership.

And now, thanks to one epic “Saturday Night Live” skit, fans are clamoring to see Pascal take on a new role—a brooding, hardened, princess smuggling Mario.

The faux trailer imagines the video game Mario Kart as a quintessential HBO drama. Mario (Pascal) has to use his driving skills to get Princess Peach (played by Chloe Fineman) through an apocalyptic Mushroom Kingdom.
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