Patrick Goldstein at the LA Times goes inside the Ang Lee awards-magnet thanks to the man I proclaim the greatest living western novelist and screenwriter, Larry McMurtry:

In town the other day for a rare interview, McMurtry is considerably less sardonic about “Brokeback Mountain,” perhaps because so much effort went into getting it made. The original story, written by E. Annie Proulx, appeared in the New Yorker in 1997. McMurtry and Ossana optioned it with their own money, wrote the script together and spent nearly eight years struggling to get it made. Skittish about making any sort of drama these days, Hollywood was especially wary about the tale of two cowboys who meet one summer tending sheep on an open range and fall in love.

I just saw Hud (another McMurtry-penned movie) for the first time this break. I was already a fan of the Lonesome Dove mini-series (and book) and, of course, of The Last Picture Show. McMurtry’s stories aren’t Westerns in the Hollywood sense, but are more like Southwesterns, faithful as they are to the actual American Southwest and the laconic, iconic characters that populate it. Proulx I could do without, personally. I don’t know Ossana’s work. Ang Lee’s movies are all worth seeing (CAVEAT: I enjoyed Hulk). Despite the overwrought trailer, Brokeback is number one now on my list of movies to see, followed by Munich and Walk the Line.