Lords of Dogtown (June 2005)
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, a fast-paced, edgy, testosterone-fuelled journey through the mid 1970s surf and skateboarding culture of Venice Beach, California, aka Dogtown. Based on actual personalities and events surrounding the legendary Z-Boys skateboarding team, who revolutionised the sport.
Heath gives a virtuoso performance as the Z-Boys’ mentor, the charismatic but permanently wasted Skip, in all his psychedelic glory. When the movie was released, the real Skip Engblom stated that his wife thought Heath played him perfectly. He then quipped that this was great for him, because his wife now thought she was sleeping with Heath Ledger! Instead of horseriding in this one, Heath skateboards and surfs. Loaded with accurate 1970s surfer-skateboarding culture detail, together with a brilliant 1970s soundtrack. Includes Tyson the famous skateboarding bulldog, who gets a featurette to himself on the DVD.
Fabulous stuff – one of my top three Heath Ledger movies.
The Brothers Grimm (August 2005)
This is on my (ever shorter) list of Heath movies still to see. It got very mixed reviews, but it’s also got Matt Damon, and on the basis of the actors alone, must be worth a look. Heath greatly admired director and former Python Terry Gilliam, and enjoyed working with him so much that he went back for a second round in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, filming at the time he died.
Brokeback Mountain (December 2005)
Heath plays Wyoming ranch hand Ennis del Mar in a career-defining performance. A masterpiece of a movie that generated huge amounts of buzz and earned Heath his one and only Oscar nomination. All the necessary ingredients to be included on any list of Great Movies – outstanding writers, screenplay, director, actors and performances, sweeping landscapes, gorgeous cinematography, haunting music, local detail, taboo subject matter, desperately sad love story. You can watch Heath in this once or you can watch him a hundred times and you will still see something new. Magnificent.
Casanova (December 2005)
A comic romp filmed entirely in the sumptuous city of Venice and surrounds, in which Casanova finally gets his romantic comeuppance (no pun intended). Heath in the lead role does charismatic, unscrupulous, hyperactive and comic hero with an equal degree of skill, successfully extricating himself from all manner of scrapes just in the nick of time. He even gets to ride another horse or two. A host of fine actors also do their bit, including co-stars Sienna Miller as Francesca Bruni and Jeremy Irons as Pucci, the feared Papal inquisitor.