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Thread: Brokeback Mountain

  1. #61
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    Originally posted by Chris Knipp
    If this satisfies you that's fine, though your can't exactly define what Philadelphia is about and what "Middle America" means just however you want. I've replied already.
    Wyoming isn't in the Southwest anyway.
    "They must find it hard, those who have taken authority as truth, rather than truth as authority" Gerald Massey

  2. #62
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    Touché. But Texas is surely. West. Not middle.

  3. #63
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    Broken Down Mountain

    Well the art film finally arrived in Raleigh, packing them in on a Monday night; I was amazed to find most of the audience women (Slasher/Fiction?). The opening shot (also one of the last) demonstrates the power of great cinemaphotography. Hispanic photographer Rodrigo Prieto (Alexander) has captured the flavor of the west with its sweeping grandeur, the sharp snow capped peaks of the Grand Tetons, the steep green valleys with babbling streams, et al. In stark contrast we keep cutting back to the bland and minimalist lives of Jack and Ennis, making Brokeback Mountain a special magical place; one that evokes emotion connected with the characters, sort of.

    Unfortunately, we do not dwell there long enough (except during the opening travelogue about Sheep Herding - a nice music video). Instead the film prods slowly through long scenes of "normal" life, with the wife and kids. Yes, you too can have a dull and horrible life if you marry and have screaming sick children. The long thankless years pay off when Ennis is sent a postcard from Jack. He can't wait for him to show up and when he does, he smothers his former lover with passionate kisses in the presence of an unintentioned witness, his wife. But why?

    From his first emotional breakdown (after Jack leaves on the side of the road) to his last emotional breakdown in Jack's bedroom, I grow increasingly confused as to what Ennis really wants. Nor do I believe his character knows either. His struggle however is lost in a sea of back and forth adventures meant to further involve the audience with their relationship. Instead, I found myself further alienated away from it, as if they trivialized it all down to sex and romping naked through the meadow in slow motion (overdone cliche).

    Long artistic shots between emotional scenes between the two men does not a movie make. I couldn't be more disappointed in a film that had so much build up in the press. I don't know what I was expecting, but that was not it. I found the ending too convenient. I found Ennis too disturbing to ever sympathize with. And I found Eng's direction confusing at times to the point of being silly, along with the dialogue and unmotivated emotional outbursts of frustration between the two men.

    The only scene in the film that gave away any reasonable explained emotion was when the two men meet at Brokeback Mountain for the last time. Ennis finally breaks down and hugs the other man. Emotion at last! However, I considered it too little too late. The unfeeling unemotional Ennis has given us nothing through the film, suddenly has the inspiration to express his feelings by falling on his knees and crying. Then what? He drives away.

    Brokeback Mountain isn't a gay movie or a love story. I found it full of betrayal, dishonesty, and its only use as a social tool to start a dialogue, but one I felt no involvement in it. As I left the theater, I felt more like Ennis, flat, emotionless, and unable to express myself as a caring person. So why care?

  4. #64
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    Re: Broken Down Mountain

    Thanks for your review. It is very well written and deeply felt. I didn't see as much sex between the men as you did (maybe I blotted it out) and I sure don't remember naked slow motion shots. I guess I have a very selective memory.

    Anyway, I understand how you felt about the film, though I am not entirely in agreement as to its ultimate merits. One of the problems I do face, however, with films about characters whose emotional range is so limited is that I find it hard to really care about them and my emotional involvement in the film is limited. I felt this to some extent with Brokeback Mountain and more strongly in watching Jarmusch's Broken Flowers this week.

    Thanks again for your strong review.

    Howard
    Last edited by Howard Schumann; 01-23-2006 at 10:07 AM.
    "They must find it hard, those who have taken authority as truth, rather than truth as authority" Gerald Massey

  5. #65
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    The best "gay" film I know from the last decade that helped the cause in fighting the "gay disease" was "...and the band played on." Taken from the book by Randy Shilts, this film, with all its flaws, reads like a riot act on how the US government and its agencies dragged their feet on HIV inquiry resulting in millions of domestic deaths (the exact total unknown since many deaths were diagnosed with other causes, some of our fear of stigma from families and relatives... "Johnny died of cancer, etc.") Only briefly does it discuss how the gay community helped to perpetuate their very destruction by insisting "bath houses" remain open, further spreading the disease, esp. in New York and Los Angeles, and wiping out entire neighborhoods before health authorities finally closed them all down by the late 1980's.

    As a health official and nurse, I worked in the "AIDS Wards" in Seattle for two years (1981 & 1982) when most workers refused to even enter their rooms out of fear and panic. We were gowned and double gloved, covered head to toe. I can't begin to tell you how many men perished with out a friend ever visiting or relative ever coming to pay a visit. Sometimes we had three and four die in one day. They died alone, in pain and suffering, with only a handful of nurses and doctors offering words of comfort in their final days.

    In the case of my very good friend and artist, David Glynn; he was unable to reach me in time. He died alone in a hospital in Indianapolis, one of the finest artists I have ever known from any gallery I've ever strolled through. There isn't a plaque with his name on it or a showing of his huge volume of work anywhere. His passing, like so many others I once knew, has transpired without so much as a square on a quilt or a byline in the local paper.

    What's the real focus of today? It should not be Brokeback Mountain, but a disease that kills millions of poor ignorant people still unaware of how it is spread or if they even have it. Sites that promote gay love without condoms should be banned. Period!

    "And the Band Played On" HBO Pictures (1993)

  6. #66
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    an amusing anecdote

    Nathan Lee wrote in the Times that Johnny Knoxville's "Ringer" was "the Brokeback Mountain of disability flicks". The film's ad team picked up the quote, and built the ad campaign around it. Take a look in your local paper!... if this dreadful film ("Ringer") is still in theaters that is... amusing.
    P

  7. #67
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    Does "The Ringer" feature any spit-lubed buttsex? Anyway, I think it's one of wpqx's all-time favorites.

  8. #68
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    NYRB puts the homosexuality back in Brokeback Mountain

    The New York Review of Books has a review of Brokeback Mountain by Daniel Mendelsohn in the current (February 23, 2006) issue that I recommend to anyone who has been sympathetic to what I have been trying to say about it. The one essential point that I've been harpoing on by quoting Jason Lee (who's typically provocative comment on Ringers I'll let slide) comes out in Mendelsohn's last paragraph:
    The real achievement of Brokeback Mountain is not that it tells a universal love story that happens to have gay characters in it, but that it tells a distinctively gay story that happens to be so well told that any feeling person can be moved by it. If you insist, as so many have, that the story of Jack and Ennis is OK to watch and sympathize with because they're not really homosexual—that they're more like the heart of America than like "gay people"—you're pushing them back into the closet whose narrow and suffocating confines Ang Lee and his collaborators have so beautifully and harrowingly exposed.
    That's all I'm asking anybody to grant, though it seems way too much for a lot of people -- and if it didn't, this wouldn't be a significant issue.

  9. #69
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    Taking the messages of Brokeback Mountain seriously

    Deroy Murdock is a syndicated columnist for conservative publications including National Review. He has written a column where he takes the events depicted in Brokeback Mountain as having serious implications for conservatives. What's really best for family values? This was refereinced on IMDb:
    The real lessons of Brokeback Mountain
    By DEROY MURDOCK
    Feb 3, 2006, 00:20


    Having lassoed eight Academy Award nominations, millions more Americans likely will see director Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain." Social conservatives should be among those who catch this widely lauded motion picture.

    Socio-cons probably have sidestepped this so-called gay cowboy movie. Too bad. While it hardly screams, "family values," "Brokeback" engages profound issues that merit consideration by those who think seriously about the challenges that families face.

    Stylistically, socio-cons need not fear "Brokeback" as a didactic, in-your-face, gay screed. "We're here. We're queer" it is not. Nor is this film a flamboyant camp-fest, like the flighty but hilarious "The Birdcage" or much of "The Producers," both coincidentally starring Nathan Lane.

    Indeed, as a romance between two thoroughly masculine ranch hands, "Brokeback" begins to reverse the damage caused by "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and similar offerings that reinforce the stereotype that gay men are indispensable when one needs to select fabulous neckties or striking pastels for stunning interiors. How sad that such entertainment still elicits laughs, even as most Americans would be justifiably outraged at any show titled "Jewish Guy with a Banker's Eye" or "The Mexican Gardening Hour."

    Beyond equating same-sex affection with manliness, "Brokeback" addresses important matters on the political agenda. It is impossible to discuss these themes without revealing key plot points. So, if you have yet to see "Brokeback," please do so soon, then finish this column after the credits roll.

    Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar, movingly portrayed by Academy Award nominees Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, respectively, find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other one booze-filled evening in 1963. While huddling in a tent from Wyoming's bracing winds, a spontaneous moment of intimacy triggers for Jack and Ennis a long summer that combines hectic days of tending sheep with tranquil nights of tending to each other.

    As the young men depart the mountain pastures when their gig ends, they split up and do what society expects of them. Jack competes in the Southwestern rodeo circuit where he meets, marries, and has a son with Lureen (Anne Hathaway), herself an equestrian. Ennis weds Alma (Ledger's real-life girlfriend, Oscar nominee Michelle Williams), a quiet, loyal woman who raises their two daughters.

    After four years apart, Jack returns to Ennis' small town of Riverton, Wyo. Their still-smoldering passion flares like a zephyr-swept campfire. They stoke these flames during periodic fishing trips.

    Jack's and Ennis' marriages grow increasingly cold, leading to a loveless union for the Twists and divorce and a broken home for the Del Mars.

    As this adulterous relationship spreads pain all around, one need not hark back to the Rockies of the 1960s and '70s to find parallels to Jack's and Ennis' situation. Former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey's wife, Dina, bore him a baby girl before his clandestine affair with an Israeli man named Golan Cipel erupted into view in 2004. The McGreeveys split, and their daughter's live-in dad is now just a visitor.

    Similarly, J.L. King's book, "On the Down Low," discusses seemingly heterosexual black husbands who cheat on their spouses with other men. The luckier wives land in divorce court; the most unlucky unwittingly become HIV-positive.

    "Brokeback Mountain" should prompt social conservatives to ponder whether it is good family policy to encourage gay men to live lives that are traditional yet untrue. Would honest gay marriages be less destructive than deceitful straight ones? I think so. Many disagree. Even if they oppose it, however, seeing this film may give heterosexual marriage proponents a better insight into why so many Americans advocate homosexual marriage.

    "Brokeback" also concerns homophobic violence. The October 1998 beating death of gay college student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo., the July 1999 fatal baseball-bat attack on gay Army Pvt. Barry Winchell, and the non-lethal assault on gay soldier Kyle Lawson last October, among other incidents, should remind filmgoers that this grave matter was not buried on the Great Plains decades ago.

    Beautifully acted, photographed, written, and directed, "Brokeback Mountain" quietly but powerfully asks questions that are relevant today. Americans left, middle and right should see this touching, haunting love story, then give it the thorough mulling over it deserves.

  10. #70
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    Fair and balanced: Jim Hoberman on Brokeback

    Brokeback Mountain, which opens (finally) next week, is less a movie than a chunk of American landscape, or perhaps, as director Ang Lee suggests, a pioneering settlement on Hollywood's "one last frontier." Are those storm heads massed around Lee's conveniently designated "gay western"—or is it only a radiant cloud of hype?

    As all media savants know, Brokeback Mountain has transformed Annie Proulx's 1997 New Yorker short story into a sagebrush Tristan and Isolde in which Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) are the tragic loves of each other's lives. The Drudge Report has already managed to dredge up a playwright from the land of Matthew Shepard, claiming that she never met a homosexual cowboy and accusing Brokeback Mountain of ruining the state's image. Focus, which finally financed a script (by professional westerner Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana) that had been languishing for eight years, must be hoping that some higher-powered culture warriors will attack their movie as a manifestation of the Antichrist—or, at least, the anti–Mel Gibson.

    Hysteria can only help: From the opening scene of semiconscious cruising to the final scene of ultimate bereavement, Lee's accomplishment is to make this saga a universal romance. Brokeback Mountain is the most straightforward love story—and in some ways the straightest—to come out of Hollywood, at least since Titanic. (Several websites offer the posters for comparison.)

    One summer, chatty Jack and taciturn Ennis are hired to watch some curmudgeon's flock. It's a boy's-life Eden, camping out in a tent under the stars in a national park environment (actually Alberta), and one cold, liquor-lubricated night the thing just happens. Are these tough yet tender shepherds fighting or fucking or just doing what comes naturally? Wouldn't you know that would be the night the coyote picks off a sheep? And that soon after, their boss (Randy Quaid) spies them wrassling?

    A last tussle, a farewell of unspoken regret, and a venture toward normality. Ennis takes a wife (Michelle Williams); Jack meets a nice cowgirl (Anne Hathaway) who is both sexually forward and born rich. Both men father children. But a nervous reunion washes away the sand castles of their current lives in a raging tide of feelings, and sends them hightailing for the nearest motel, the vulnerable Mrs. Ennis sobbing quietly in the background.

    Graduating from weird adolescent roles to bronc-bustin' cowboy here and combat-primed marine in Jarhead, Gyllenhaal is a throwback to the (relatively) sensitive, if not androgynous, male stars of the late '60s and early '70s—the period during which Brokeback is ostensibly set. But moony as Gyllenhaal is, he's only barely able to hold up his side of the equation; it's the self- contained Ledger's repression and scary, sorrowful, hard-luck rage that fuel the movie. (While a $13 million production like Brokeback Mountain will have to make some real money to lasso any Oscars, Ledger and Williams, the real-life mother of his child, seem a cinch for nominations.)

    The western has always been the most idyllically homosocial of modes—and often one concerned with the programmatic exclusion of women. This is hardly a secret and thus the true cowboy love between tight-lipped Ennis and doe-eyed Jack precipitates the not-so-latent theme of early-'70s oaters like The Wild Rovers and The Hired Hand—not to mention Andy Warhol's hilarious disco western Lonesome Cowboys and its more conventional Hollywood analogue Midnight Cowboy. (Conventional up to a point, that is: Midnight Cowboy not only made a gay fashion statement but included Joe Buck's incredulous cri de coeur, "Are you telling me that John Wayne is a fag?!")

    Inflated with Marlboro Man imagery and pumped with pregnant pauses, Brokeback Mountain is, like most Lee films, a good half-hour too long. The director wrings as much pathos as he can out of every Same Time, Next Year "fishing trip," but the guys' first reunion and parallel Thanksgivings aside, the real handkerchief moment comes late in the day, when forlorn Ennis visits Jack's parents and sees his life pass before his eyes.

    The sex scenes may be hot, but it's difficult to believe that Madonna found them "shocking." All is tasteful, and far more convincing than the movie's representation of passion is its only-the-lonely evocation of a punishing social order. The closet has never seemed more cruelly constricting than in comparison to the wide open spaces of what Americans are pleased to call "God's country."

  11. #71
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    Yes, fair and balanced it is.

    I certainly would agree with 97% of this, Hoberman's November 29th, 2005 review, even if the tone is far less admiring than mine. Why quote it so late in the game? Most of us have already read it, and I thought you didn't like to quote mainstream critics, or people, at length like this? But it's fine, and as far as I'm concerned, there is only one little (but important!) thing in it that could be misread:
    Brokeback Mountain is the most straightforward love story—and in some ways the straightest—to come out of Hollywood, at least since Titanic.
    "In some ways the straightest"? Why? I refer you and everybody back to the recent NYRB review by Daniel Mendelsohn
    The real achievement of Brokeback Mountain is not that it tells a universal love story that happens to have gay characters in it, but that it tells a distinctively gay story that happens to be so well told that any feeling person can be moved by it. If you insist, as so many have, that the story of Jack and Ennis is OK to watch and sympathize with because they're not really homosexual—that they're more like the heart of America than like "gay people"—you're pushing them back into the closet whose narrow and suffocating confines Ang Lee and his collaborators have so beautifully and harrowingly exposed.
    I'm not saying Hoberman is doing that, or would want to, but just that his phrase could be misread in the larger context of mainstream critics and even the filmmakers' own surrounding hype. I'd also like to remind you of my several earlier more pungent quotes from Jason Lee on the actual queerness of the story of Jack and Ennis, to explain why a gay person might want to insist this still definitely is a gay romance, however boringly conventional and romantic it is, and that we (as gay people) can't knock it, because of its value to mainstream culture; plus I personally am still very moved by it no matter how conventional and a little too long it may be. But, yeah, I don't ever agree with everything J. Hoberman or anybody else says, though despite what you say I do listen to and am influenced constantly by other people's arguments; and I usually expect Hoberman to say something balanced and smart, and he doesn't disappoint me here. That's still true even though maybe from some quotes, e.g.
    Are these tough yet tender shepherds fighting or fucking or just doing what comes naturally?
    I wouldn't say Hoberman is the most sensitive of observers of the movie (even the usually glib Anthony Lane is more serious about it), but he's basically right in his observations, including the conventionality, the slighly overblown adaptation, the merely well-meaning and acceptable "moony" acting of Jake but better and stronger work by Heath and Michelle -- it is indeed "the self- contained Ledger's repression and scary, sorrowful, hard-luck rage that fuel the movie." No one can quarrel with that, and H. acknowledges that there is fueling and there is rage there. I'm not at all sure what H. means by the word "precipitates," but the "oater" thumbnail history is obligatory, and not always given. Above all H. ends with the point of Mendelsohn's NYRB review: "The closet has never seemed more cruelly constricting than in comparison to the wide open spaces of what Americans are pleased to call 'God's country'" -- and though this is nothing new, especially being reprinted after several others have reiterated it elsewhere, I think it's a very balanced statement. Nothing to discuss, really.

  12. #72
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    Keeping it real

    From the pre-Oscar telecast last night:

    "There are some 80 plus Gay Cowboy Rodeos given in this country every year."

    You learn something every day. I just want to know if there are any gay Indians. Now that would make a great shoot 'em up. Incidently, I liked the "references" made in past films that used innuendo to imply gay cowboy themes were not new. Very funny.

    "Let's give them something to shout about!"
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  13. #73
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    OK, so I know I'm coming in late to the conversation, but since I've mostly gotten sick of going to theaters, rentals have become the vessel of my income. So, now that I've finally seen the film, I feel extremely compelled to talk about it. I am, as always, too idle to structure a pretty little review. However, I will do my best to hopefully emit some profundities on the matter of this film. Spoilers may appear erratically throughout this post. So, here we go.

    I've been driven by Brokeback Mountain to consider the concept of homosexuality itself. I am not questioning its status of being innate, but it leads me to think about what it means in terms of society's outlook on the matter. Roger Ebert says in his review that any forbidden love would have sufficed for the backbone of the story, but I would have to disagree. Homosexuality has carried various images throughout civilization, and in the first two acts I was reminded of perhaps the Greek interpretation of brotherhood, and its indifference to sexual conduct. I am also reminded of a quote I once heard Morrissey that talked about his belief in the natural lack of these "prefixes." He says we are neither homo-, hetero, a-, or whatever. We are simply sexual.

    I think we are led to believe, at least for most of the film, that Ennis sort of has this feeling described above about his relationship with Jack Twist. It is merely a sexual matter, and their conduct is simply an offshoot of their natural brotherhood.

    Jack, on the other hand, embraces the notion of his homosexuality. He loves Ennis in a different way than Ennis loves him, and their bond is important to him. However, he sees his desires as not bound to Ennis only, as exhibited by his prostitution run. His cravings are innate and necessary.

    In the end, however, (and in what makes me find this film brilliant), we find that they are really not different at all. Ennis's whole brotherhood buildup is shattered by his devotion to those memories of Brokeback Mountain, as represented by the bloody shirts. There was something more immaterial between them that we didn't see, something that we couldn't.

    I really don't understand love much, being a 17-year-old film geek who posts on message boards. But this film really makes me want to love. I can't explain it. It's a level of spirituality that I can't even begin to comprehend; I recently became agnostic and thus very wary of many so-called illusions. I really don't know what goes on with you crazy lovers, but I'm really compelled to find out.

    I almost forgot to mention the natural beauty in the film. The beautiful landscapes and whatnot alone would make me want to see it again. The panoramic views reminded me of Crouching Tiger. Hmm, I wonder why that is? :)
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  14. #74
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    Regulars on this site are aware of your many qualities. And your posts keep getting better! That's one sensitive and insightful piece of writing, Horseradish Tree. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Thanks.

  15. #75
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    Originally posted by HorseradishTree
    I really don't understand love much, being a 17-year-old film geek who posts on message boards. But this film really makes me want to love. I can't explain it.
    That's ok. I've lived a lot lot longer and I still can't explain it. Anyway, it is beyond understanding.
    "They must find it hard, those who have taken authority as truth, rather than truth as authority" Gerald Massey

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