Brokeback Mountain

Ashley's picture
Submitted by Ashley on Mon, 2006-01-09 17:24

I know some of you have been looking forward to seeing this film, so I wanted to report that I saw it last week and thought it was excellent. It was tender and lovely. The relationship was treated honestly but not sensationally. The theater was filled with older couples mostly, which surprised and pleased me.

Has anyone else seen this yet?


( categories: )

Ok, I saw it!

atlascott's picture

Really touching but tragic movie.

At the end, I sighed, and asked why the World can't just leave a man (or men, or women) alone, to live the life they choose.

John Wayne certainly would not have been tolerant of gay cowboy

Landon Erp's picture

"John Wayne certainly would not have been tolerant of gay cowboys."

I think this is the thrust of the film. What would happen if one day John Wayne found out he WAS a gay cowboy.

I recently saw the film. (I got over the lack of pudding scenes rather quickly. so quickly that this is the last time I'll bring up the joke)

Coming to some degree from the background implied in the film. I grew up in rural environments my whole life, blacks never lasted a whole year in the town I went to school in and every homosexual I met up until a few years ago stayed deeply closeted in their public life.

Keep in mind I'm referencing a time lasting from the early 1980's until today. It is easy to act in defiance of society's standards when social ostracism is the only threat you have to deal with. Real physical violence is enough to make anyone think twice about defying those standards.

While I admired Jack's individualist "It's nobody's business but ours" attitude but he was a bit too optimistic in not clearly thinking through all the possible risks his affair entailed. He should never have had to but it was a fact of reality he never truly faced until the end. He however seemed much more at ease with his homosexuality than Ennis (it seemed from his first line he was aware of and dealing with it to some degree).

In contrast Ennis was maybe a little too aware of the external factors but willing to take on unearned guilt and any amount of personal suffering. Ledger's performance in the film reminded me of Reardon at his most tragic or Boxer from "Animal Farm." He put himself through a lot but it seems to me he did so in order to protect himself and the people he loved (Jack and his Daughter).

Granted I tend to be a sucker for a good tragedy and throughout the film I felt truly sad for Ennis and his inability to find a way to keep himself and his loved ones safe and provided for while he was able to live his love.

Granted toward the end of the film the time frame would've been the 1970's and they could've just taken that opportunity to buy a nice ranch out in a lightly inhabited place in california. But I think that came down more to the fact that it seemed together they could've made a wonderful integrated whole but they (especially Ennis) were desperately afraid to even discover what this would mean.

All through the film Ennis reminded me of my father. He was a kind of guy for whom communication was hard to come by a lot of the time. A man who had certain ideas pounded into his head from childhood. A man who would not know what to do if one day he was confronted with something that contradicted everything he'd ever been taught. He was never confronted with this, many people were, and not all of them were Howard Roark.

It would have been great if the two had been strong enough and smart enough to make it work. They tried and failed and as many people on this thread have noted, this can be learned from.

---Landon

It all basically comes back to fight or flight.

Stupid Me

Michael Moeller's picture

Yes, I saw that Joe said he didn't see the movie. Stupid me--I should have given a warning before I analyzed aspects of the film so as to not spoil the plot for anyone. Sorry to those who I may have spoiled the plot.
Michael

Thank you for your

JoeM's picture

Thank you for your considered thoughts on the film. (Again, haven't seen it myself.) I suppose it says a lot about how things have improved when it's inconceivable that people would allow themselves to be controlled so strongly by society. I can imagine a whole generation of young gay people scoffing at the situation at the movie.

We are all metrosexuals now...Eye

Spaceplayer: "The Music Listens To YOU."

Yes, Joe

Michael Moeller's picture

Hey Joe,

I understand your point. No doubt gay men and women have been the victims of injustice, and I can appreciate why the film may have resonated with them more.

However, the film qua art did not live up to high drama. As a matter of fact, that's what it decidely lacked. If I were a gay man, wouldn't I want to see intelligent and strong-willed characters fighting for their love? Is that what happened? Even if they died at the hands of an unjust society, one would have still maintained a sense of the heroic, i.e. people fighting for their values.

Being heterosexual I don't think distorts making that judgment. It was not a tightly-wound plot pulled forward in logical progression by a theme. The scenes were very *fractured*, and many of the conflicts were left undramatized. I suppose the purpose was to highlight gay lovers at odds with an antagonistic sub-culture, but most of the antagonism was between the lovers themselves. Instead of the what's-going-to-happen-next feel where the drama pulls you out of your seat, it had the do-I-care-what-happens-next feel--snoooze.

The comparison with "We the Living" was an important point worth analysis, thanks for bringing it up. I didn't make that connection until you mentioned it.

Regards,
Michael Moeller

Comprachico'd

JoeM's picture

Moellertime, you wrote:
"Whatever the antagonism of the Wild West towards gay cowboys, it certainly does not compare to Communist Russia. You are me telling they could not find someplace in the ENTIRE US to go and live their life together in peace? Nah, we were dragged through maudlin sentimentalities of two coward lovers too scared to fight for their love, which usually means it was not worth fighting for."

Thank you for pointing out the obvious difference in the character of Kira vs. the cowboys, you are correct. I would add one further argument, that the characters of Brokeback (and many homosexuals in real life, especially in past generations) have been victims of mental distortion, where their natures are twisted to fit into society's religious and other expectations. And as for the argument about why they simply don't move away: They could, but so what? Sodomy laws existed in most states, and if they weren't arrested or harrassed they may have been committed into a mental institution. I don't know if the full context of what it meant to be homosexual in this country until the sixties is really appreciated by many well-meaning heterosexuals...

Spaceplayer: "The Music Listens To YOU."

Comprachico'd

JoeM's picture

Moellier, you wrote:
"Whatever the antagonism of the Wild West towards gay cowboys, it certainly does not compare to Communist Russia. You are me telling they could not find someplace in the ENTIRE US to go and live their life together in peace? Nah, we were dragged through maudlin sentimentalities of two coward lovers too scared to fight for their love, which usually means it was not worth fighting for."

Thank you for pointing out the obvious difference in the character of Kira vs. the cowboys, you are correct. I would add one further argument, that the characters of Brokeback (and many homosexuals in real life, especially in past generations) have been victims of mental distortion, where their natures are twisted to fit into society's religious and other expectations. And as for the argument about why they simply don't move away: They could, but so what? Sodomy laws existed in most states, and if they weren't arrested or harrassed they may have been committed into a mental institution. I don't know if the full context of what it meant to be homosexual in this country until the sixties is really appreciated by many well-meaning heterosexuals...

Spaceplayer: "The Music Listens To YOU."

I Second That Notion

Michael Moeller's picture

I agree with with Robert Winefield's comments, and I wanted to add a few things. Joe M. brings up the comparison with "We the Living", and I think this is a valid one--to show opposite dramatizations.

Kira never relinquishes the fight for her ideal, and although the end is tragic, one can maintain a benevolent sense of life because because she never gave up. She was struck down by forces beyond her control. It ends with a beautifully symbolic scene where she is wearing a white wedding dress--emphasizing her moral purity in the face of evil. It is an ignorant drone of the Soviet army who strikes her down and drowns the dress in red.

What happens at the end of Brokeback? Ledger's character merely receives a postcard saying "deceased". We are told that it was an *accident* while changing his tire and Ledger's character does a flashback to the gay men he discovered murdered as a child; thus leaving a floating implication. Likewise, he retrieves the coat with blood on it from when his character had a fight with Jake's at the end of their initial lovefest up on the mountain. That blood rightly symbolizes the conflict as well--except WITH EACH OTHER. Whatever the antagonism of the Wild West towards gay cowboys, it certainly does not compare to Communist Russia. You are me telling they could not find someplace in the ENTIRE US to go and live their life together in peace? Nah, we were dragged through maudlin sentimentalities of two coward lovers too scared to fight for their love, which usually means it was not worth fighting for.

Another major flaw in the movie is lack of dramatization. Ledger's wife sees them kiss, yet never says anything to her husband. They have a fight about inessentials while in bed together, then it immediately cuts to divorce court. Huh? That's it? Its only later, when they are no longer together and she is living with a new husband, does she confront him. He immediately flees after threatening her and gets in a fight with some random guy driving by in a truck. Where the hell did that come from? The movie did that so many times where it cut away from an important scene or avoided dramatizing scenes altogether, even though it ate away 3 hours of my time. Very poor movie-making, in my book.

At the end, I guess one is suppose to feel depressed about two star-crossed lovers who *society* kept from the day in the sun. Me? I felt glad as all hell that I didn't have to sit through anymore shallow and drawn-out mush.

This part I agree."If they

Hong's picture

This part I agree.

"If they had tried to be what they were and were cut down - then *that* would have been tragic."

My sentiment exactly. Of course I do not ask every common person to be heroic. But if they spent millions making it into a movie, and an Oscar hottie no less, I'd expect more.

Maybe mabye not

Robert's picture

"Both of them lived a very repressed life and were never able to rise above their surroundings, even after 20 years."

I'd argue that they never really tried! The do live in America afterall. Pretty easy just to pack everything into your pickup and head for the setting sun... Don't need a VISA to move from Wyoming to California or even the liberal parts of Kansas. Damned easy to get a job here - shave, shower and put on a tidy shirt and MacDonalds will hire you in an instant.

This is a country partly built by people who arrived with nothing but a desire to better themselves. Immigrants to this country - no matter their hue - have faced discrimination and even violence, many of them came through OK. True, many did not - but at least they tried. If these cowboys had tried to live together and were cut down - then *that* would have been tragic.

BM is a story set in America and struggle - often in the face of a "stacked deck" is part of the American heritage. I'm sorry the "not able to rise above their surroundings" doesn't wash with me.

As I said, I was looking for a movie that screamed "To thine own self be true." I didn't find it and what I did find depressed me deeply. I don't pay money to suffer depression, life is too precious for that.

Now, Robert, I think you've

Hong's picture

Now, Robert, I think you've gone a little bit too far. I don't think the two cowboys treat their respective wife badly. Through it all, they've been responsible family men. I'd even given them credit for that.

The inner emotions/passion/love between the two cowboys are also there. Like in that scene when Ennis belched when he first parted from Jack, his reaction when received the postcard from Jack, and his restlessness when waiting for Jack's arrival. I think it's rather intense.

But I think all this emotions are at a rather animalistic level. Both of them lived a very repressed life and were never able to rise above their surroundings, even after 20 years.

Robert, without having seen

JoeM's picture

Robert, without having seen the movie myself, I can't comment further. But I understand your viewpoint, and if your depiction is accurate, I'd have to agree with your assessment...

That's not tragedy to me, that's parasitism.

Robert's picture

"The more people who see this movie and think "that's not right, they should stand up for themselves" and get angry towards a religion and a culture that prohibits two men to claim their love, the better."

The problem with that argument is that people are just as likely to see gays - as portrayed by Leger et al. - as cheating arseholes for the way they treated the women in their lives.

You see, the movie does nothing to show you the conflict in the minds of the characters. We don't see Leger trying to figure out what is going on and finding *real* *meaninful* solutions to it. All we see him do is attempt to avoid solving the problem.

We see him using his relationships with women to camouflage his true nature, and the only excuse is that he wants to avoid getting killed. In doing so, he ends up emotionally mis-treating two innocent women.

I'm sorry, that's not tragedy to me, that's parasitism.

Unless you have already come into the movie theatre with an appreciation for the emotional-turmoil that can beset men & women who are coming to terms with their sexual orientation, you are left only with what you see on the screen. Two men, fooling themselves and cheating on their female partners - with a bit of gay sex thrown in for
shock and awe.

Movies with a message - Inherit the Wind, Judgement at Nuremburg and Gentleman's Agreement - set the context of the argument the were making and strongly assisted the audience in correctly connecting the dots. BM doesn't do that.

To appreciate what the main characters are going through internally you have to super-impose your own feelings & experiences on the action. Hence you have *part* of the reason for the gulf that exists between Ashley's opinion of the movie and my own.

I am aware of the turmoil, but I have never felt it - so to that extent I was expecting the movie maker to help me to comprehend it. He didn't. And the movie is the worse for it.

Robert, I do think Wayne's

JoeM's picture

Robert,
I do think Wayne's personal prejudices are relevant, so far as they mirror the mindset and morality of a segment of American history and life that was very guilty of oppression of gays, mainly the religious right, and the stereotype of the Wayne cowboy archetype was often thrown back into the faces, I'd bet, of many a gay teenager when confronted with what society expected of its men. "John Wayne wouldn't do such sick, perveted behaviors. He's a God fearing American!"

But aside from that, I'm glad that you didn't see the characters as heroic. Obviously they aren't, if they don't claim their lives. They are tragic. Again, considering it from the same perspective as WE THE LIVING, it is more an indictment of the culture and morality that would put anyone in such a situation. The more people who see this movie and think "that's not right, they should stand up for themselves" and get angry towards a religion and a culture that prohibits two men to claim their love, the better. The more people who say "I won't let that happen to me," the better.

OK - so maybe you have gotten me wrong

Robert's picture

"Gays already deal with enough bullshit stereotyping, now we're going to have them shooting and assaulting people, as well?"

I didn't expect the hero to know what to do straight out of the gate. But you'd think that after three DECADES of living the lie, he'd have decided enough is enough! Especially in the context of the fights *HE STARTED* during the movie!!!

And I can't see how my heterosexual persuasion effects my opinion of this movie. I do not believe that sexual-orientation or gender has an effect on one's perceptive abilities - especially when it comes to movies. As far as I'm concerned, if you have eyes and a brain you can correctly identify discrimination of any hue and make a value judgement on how well the characters are dealing with it. So I am perfectly capable of understanding all aspects of BM, but my priorities are different to yours.

What I wanted was a movie that screams "To thine own self be true!"
If there is one thing I've learnt from Ayn Rand it's this: A life lived in fear isn't a life at all. BM is all about the fear and nothing about living - I mean REALLY living. In one sentence THAT is why I think that BM sucks shit.

For 3 hours I waited for someone to actually say "Screw this! I'm gay and that's the way it is! Now how do I go about being gay in this world I find myself in?"

And the answer is, according to BM, "Fuck knows!"

I wasted 3 hours of my life and $6 of my hard-earned bloody cash watching this celluloid-turd. So I decided to write a counter opinion for those who - like me - go to the movies to be inspired. Those who go to the movies to be reminded that mankind is limited only by his imagination and his courage. Those who - just like John Wayne's characters - would rather die on their feet then spend one second on their knees.

And by the way, Wayne's personal prejudices have no bearing here. It is the celluloid-characters that he brought to life that matter to me.

If you want 3-hours of hand-wringing - see BM. If you want to see men and women striving for themselves and doing their best to live honest and uncompromising lives - avoid it like the plague.

The Big Decision

Ashley's picture

Erik:

At what age did you choose your sexuality? What factors did you consider in making the decision? Did you ever think you might have chosen wrongly? Did you tell your family right away what you had chosen, or were they involved in your decision making? Did you do some research or have any information provided to assist you in this important choice?

This is very interesting to me.

Ashley

Well, then.

JoeM's picture

You can believe what you'd like, Erik. I won't try to convince you otherwise. But again, even if it were a choice, it would be still be irrelavent. It would be an individual's choice, beyond the need for sanction or permission of heterosexuals.

JoeM, being gay IS a choice.

Titan's picture

JoeM, being gay IS a choice.

Not so simple...

JoeM's picture

Ciro,
No, being gay is NOT a choice, any more than you chose to be straight.
One can choose to act on it or not, but the preferance is not a choice. I once chose the attempt to prefer woman. It doesn't work.

But the larger issue is, what if it were a choice? I have a problem with the "acceptance" of heterosexuals towards homosexuals based on the fact that it's not a choice. If it were a choice, it would be an individual's choice, and no one else's business. Homosexuals should not need the permission of heterosexuals, period.

Tragedy of Unearned Guilt

JoeM's picture

I have not seen the movie myself (ironically, though gay, I have little interest in gay themed movies and books). But I find it amusing to hear criticisms of the movie because its "cowboys" are not of the John Wayne/Gary Cooper archetype. John Wayne certainly would not have been tolerant of gay cowboys. And as admirable as some of those archetypal heroes may have been, it's even harder to go against your heroes than your enemies. And this movie is not set in the present day wear homosexuality is much more tolerated. Back then, one could be killed for being queer.
The situation is much better today, but we still have our incidents of people being attacked and murdered for being gay. We are still dealing with the transition from the idea of homosexuality as moral depravity to mental illness ( and it was Thomas Szasz who lobbied to have homosexuality removed as a mental illness from the DSM.)
Not only was there the threat of physical violence, but more powerful was the acceptance of the unearned guilt, as Linz so eloquently put it in Chris Sciabarra's powerful monograph on Objectivism and Homosexuality. Remember, the characters in the movie are NOT Objectivists, they are more likely to be of the Christian redneck variety than the John Galt type. Growing up with the stigma of steers vs. queers and the immorality of such a lifestyle, not to mention the stereotype of the limpwristed fag, many men of stronger stature have repressed their sexuality, or even killed themselves. And as Chris documents, the situation is no better among the "enlightened" of the followers of a selfish philosophy such as Objectivism, given that ARI still follows the mental illness view of homosexuality.
Having been through that transition stage myself of dealing with my own sexuality through the lense of Christianity and Objectivism, and finding my nature at odds with my accepted morality and the view of my hero Ayn Rand, I'd prefer to see the movie, from what I've heard about it, through the tragic lense used in WE THE LIVING: the fact that some men accept their sexuality successfully is an exception similar to Kira's escape from Soviet Russia, where the moral system denies men access to their true natures through intimidation, electroshock therapy, ostracism, and death.

Oscar vs. Straight-to-Video

Ashley's picture

"There are not nearly enough nude scenes for an R rated movie!"

Sure, but do you really think it would be up for "Best Picture" if it was full of naked cowboys and gay sex? No way would the average moviegoer be seen dead there. Already people on this forum have said they would avoid the movie just imagining it. Scott initially said:

"From reviews I have read, it has fairly graphic depictions of anal and other man on man sex..." and "...2 well-known male leads having alotsa gay sex."

Same goes for the movie if the cowboys had railed against discrimination and blown/beat the hell out of people. Gays already deal with enough bullshit stereotyping, now we're going to have them shooting and assaulting people, as well? How about when the ranch owner said "You boys sure found a way to pass the time up there, didn't you?" and then refused to give Jake G. a job again? What if, instead of leaving, Jake had jumped on his desk and punched him in the face? Wouldn't the typical person have been horrified? I don't think planting the seed that discrimination just might beget violence is the best way to send a message of acceptance. But ask the next young black gangster you see what he thinks.

And if you guys thought it unromantic, I would hate to be your Valentine. Did they really need to trot out champagne and negligees for you to feel sexy? You don't find it romantic to imagine your lover staring after you long after you've gone? Or holding your shirt to his face to remember how you smell? How about driving halfway across the country with a grin on his face in acticipation of seeing you? Get some imagination.

It was two tough guys who had a hard time acknowledging to themselves that they had feelings for another man. (i.e. Heath Ledger saying "This is just a one-off thing, right?") Even in the setting of TODAY, in YOUR TOWN, that isn't a situation where most people are going to join the HRC and start marching in parades.

The movie was safe and sweet, and it allowed the average person to see that gay men in love are not a threat to their family. And that even if they try to just "act straight" and have a family (as Christians would suggest they do), it doesn't work and that love is enduring. And that hate is painful and hurts everyone eventually.

I viewed this movie as a person in a same-sex relationship and was thinking about how it would feel walking out of the theater afterwards with my girlfriend, not how well it promoted Objectivism. That's why this is posted on the SOLO *HOMO* forum. Still, I cried most of the way through it, and found much of it to be completely loveable and tender.

I'll give it a solid 3.5,

Ross Elliot's picture

I'll give it a solid 3.5, which is pretty good for me since I don't go above 4.5 except for stunners like Broadcast News, Body Heat, etc.

Howard Hawks directed both Rio Bravo & Red River and The Duke's in fine form in both flicks. RR was made in 1948 before Cinemascope (16:9) and is therefore fullscreen (4:3). The transfer to DVD is superb.

Best modern western I've seen is Open Range with Robert Duvall & Kevin Costner. Old-fashioned pacing, true romance, shitkicker attitudes with a none-too-subtle point to prove. Not gratuitously violent or neo-noirish in the way that Unforgiven was. Definitely watch it.

I've only been into westerns in recent years because I recognised the best ones (and there's many) as timeless morality plays. Same deal with *real* country music (hear that, Duncan... for fuck's sake!).

Can't say RR ranks as a morality play but it sure is a satisfying way to spend a couple of hours.

I will say this for country

Robert's picture

I will say this for country music, it is the only modern popular musical-form that still embraces sentimentality (too often of the silly/sickly variety), romance, pro-liberty and unabashedly pro-USA sentiments.

Name the top twenty most idiotic Country songs if you like. But show me where - in the modern era - you'd get lyrics like those below. Beethoven's Ninth it isn't, but when you're driving through the middle of a hand-ringing, USA-bashing, Liberal-Lawrence, anti-everything demonstration there is nothing better to have blaring on your radio:

Well if you ask me where I come from
Here's what I tell everyone I was born by God's dear grace
In an extraordinary place
Where the stars and strips and the eagle fly

It's a big 'ol land with countless dreams
Happiness ain't out of reach
Hard work pays off the way it should
Yeah, I've seen enough to know that we've got it good
Where the stars and stripes and the eagle fly

Chorus

There's a lady that stands in a harbor
for what we believe
And there's a bell that still echoes the price
that it costs to be free

I pledge my allegiance to this flag
And if that bothers you well that's too bad
But if you got pride and you're proud you do
Hey we could use some more like me and you
Where the stars and stripes and the eagle fly

repeat chorus

No it ain't the only place on earth
But it's the only place that I prefer
To love my wife and raise my kids
Hey the same way that my daddy did
Where the stars and strips and the eagle fly

Where the stars and stripes and the eagle fly

But is it as good as Rio Bravo?

Robert's picture

... I've seen Red River in the DVD store occassionally. I'm a bit leery of Westerns, there are a lot of them that aren't worth the dirt they are shot on.

So give me some ratings here. If Rio Bravo rates a 5 out of 5 where does Red River stand?

Robert W.,I agree very much

Hong's picture

Robert W.,

I agree very much with you on Brokeback Mountain after seeing it a couple of weeks ago. I left a couple of comments on Chris Sciabarra's Notablog blog. As for the lack of love scenes, absolutely. There are not nealy enough nude scenes for an R rated movie! I refuse to give more slacks to gays. Their love scenes should be treated with just the same openness as the heterosexual couples. ;-)  

In any event, I'd always recommend "Maurice", the best gay themed movie there is and a great love story.

Hong

I haven't seen the movie,

Ross Elliot's picture

I haven't seen the movie, but damn, Robert, that's the best preview I've read for some time.

You know, when the Oscar nominations came out last week I was going to make comment about the cosy PC themes of Good Night, And Good Luck, Syriana, North Country and yes, Brokeback Mountain. It's all about persecution, supercilious liberal commentary and getting back at "the man", man. Jeez, they've even got Jon Stewart hosting the show. What's next, that tub of shit, Michael Moore in a guest presenter role?

If your review is correct, then BM might be just another tired Hollywood vehicle for the portrayal of victimhood and the malevolent universe premise.

Ever seen Red River? Montgomery Clift and John Ireland playing with each other's six-shooters while John Wayne looks on. Now, *there's* some tasty homo-erotic subtext. It ain't a cliche, it's just a metaphor Smiling

Hey! There's not a goddam

Ross Elliot's picture

Hey! There's not a goddam thing wrong with country music! Yeehaa!!

Don't get me wrong

Robert's picture

Ashley,

Don't get me wrong. The brutish xenophobia on display at your bowling alley and in the movie is a pernicious evil. I have no problem with movies that discuss it. But I don't think that Brokeback Mountain did that at all. I think it was just one big bloody depressing nihilism-fest with a couple of prominent actors having simulated gay-sex.

I mean, take the sex scenes out of it for a second. How in the hell would you know they were in love? Were there any smouldering glances? Any passionate declarations of love? No and no. Just a bit of "how's your father" in a bloody pup tent and an extended kiss on the stairs. And in between, a fight in which both actors walk away with bloodied noses - BTW, what the fuck was that about???

Take any of the romantic movies in my DVD collection (Chocolat, Impromptu, 4 Weddings, Notting Hill, Love Actually, The Thomas Crown Affair, Gentleman's Agreement, Don Juan Demarco), if you remove the tits and arse you'd still detect the smouldering passion between the characters. Hell, Gentlemen's agreement has no T&A at all - it doesn't need it! The look Celeste Holm gives Gregory Peck burnt holes in the celluloid and made the testicles of every man in the audience revolve! That's how she won her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress!

In fact, if you want a blueprint for the movie Brokeback Mountain should have been, look no further than Gentleman's Agreement! Gregory Peck vs Anti-Semitism in 1950s America. The Jew-haters didn't stand a chance!

Back to Brokeback: What exactly did this movie suggest be done about homophobia and the painful issues around admitting that you are gay?

As far as the latter goes it has nothing to say on the subject other than you've got to stick out the charade come what may! Deny your true self except on holidays to Mexico's pick-up spots and fraturnal "fishing" trips to Wyoming. Notice that the bloke who hid away in the wilderness and covered his tracks with multiple girlfriends lives at the end of the movie. That's because he was more careful.

Bollocks!

And What about the homophobia? Leger is obviously cast as the gay "Malboro Man." A, slow talking man with a long fuse. He's handy with a lever-action 30/30 rifle and fast with his fists. But he hasn't the wit or the stones to use that rifle or those fists in defence of his way of life. Make no mistake, he isn't a pacifist. He beats the snot out of two bikers and then, in an insane rage, attacks a motorist who cursed him for aimlessly wandering onto the road.
And for dessert he threatens to batter his ex-wife just to supress the discovery of his his THIRTY year affair with another man. Why? The only explaination offered was that, as a BOY, he had seen what Wyoming Red-necks do to gays.

He has all that is necessary to stand up for himself - except a backbone. A hard-drinkin', ridin', ropin', rootin', tootin', shootin', gutless fucking coward. You'd think that after 30 years he'd grow a pair and say "FUCK YOU WYOMING - I LOVE THIS MAN!!!" "AND IF YOU'VE GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT THEN SAY HELLO TO MY WINCHESTER 30-30..."

That's what a GOOD western is about: rough, tough, moral individuals standing up for themselves and what is right.

Instead, all we got from Leger et al. was shot after shot of the next ramshackle shit-hole (all shot on cloudy days to intensify the depression, 'cause the sun never shines on Red-States) that he was cowered in - bottom lip permanently quivering.

And he's a dumbarse too! OK, so maybe taking on all the homofobes in North America is too much like suicide. What about moving to a state where the Police take on murder is less "colour-blind?" It'd be a hell of a lot cheaper - in terms of gasoline - than having his boy friend drive from Texas to Wyoming and back for a roll in the hay twice a year.

Course if they did that they'd have to take the light-filters off the bloody cameras and show a bright and cheery scene for once. And what do you think this is? A love story?

I mean wouldn't showing straight audiences that gay couples can experience the same sentimental, romantic, and passionate feelings as straights - and for all the same reasons - be more "beneficial" both in terms of making an enjoyable movie and in terms of readjusting the bullshit attitudes on display at that bowling alley?

I guess I just yearn for the good old days when the Harold F Zanucks and Stanley Kramers of this world made great movies with a message. Sadly all you seem to get these days is nihilistic shit shot exclusively on cloudy days and in darkened rooms.

Or worse ... country music

Duncan Bayne's picture

Or worse ... country music Eye

Robert W ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... I think you've dissuaded me from seeing it. To have these guys not being true to themselves is more than I could stomach. This reminds me again why I so seldom go to the movies these days. In my childhood it was a major source of uplift, enchantment & pleasure. Now it's just neuroticism & nihilism, usually to the accompaniment of headbanging caterwauling.

Linz

I Agree With Maddox

Ashley's picture

That's fine.

I like my men to chop and split wood by hand, build a trotline, fire a 2 inch group at 75 yards, serve up a parade shine on a pair of boots, rebuild an engine, and do 200 pushups and situps before they take a piss in the morning. For starters.

And then...

So I guess we all have opinions.

Hmmm...

Summer Serravillo's picture

It is rather difficult to imagine Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood in the roles played by Keith Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall.

But I haven't seen the flick, so I can't comment beyond that except to say that, from the reviews, it sounds like a well made but VERY depressing movie.  I'll wait 'til it's shown on cable.

I agree with atlascott, I

Titan's picture

I agree with atlascott, I like my cowboy's to be personified heroe's like Gary Cooper did in High Noon, or Clint Eastwood's western pictures, or like the movie Shane.

Choosing Gay

Ashley's picture

Hi Ciro:

I don't know how to respond to this because I am not gay. I am bisexual, so for me I could just as easily fall in love with a man or a woman. In that way, I suppose I could limit myself to only dating men, which I have. But to then deny any feelings I have for women is uncomfortable.

I personally believe there is a sexual orientation continuum, with one end being only attraction to opposite sex and the other only attraction to the same sex. I think that some people are not completely on one end or the other, but have some attraction to both sexes. More women than men seem to be further toward the middle. I think that attraction to others is both inherent and cultural. I think that girls and boys recieve constant messages about the expectations others have about love and sex, and this may inform their later actions and feelings of attraction. I have always been attracted to women and men, and I have never felt ashamed of it, although I have been fearful of the consequences at times. It is an added pressure on a same-sex relationship. But there is also a freedom in having one, because by virtue of the fact that it exists you know that you are with a person who puts their own happiness above the desires of others.

I don't know why anyone would choose to be gay. I don't think there are people, men in particular, who would choose a more difficult path if they were in fact not attracted to people of the same sex. I don't think people consciously choose to be attracted to another person. I think you could be attracted to someone of the same sex and choose not to act on it. That might be a good choice, say if you were attracted to your bother's wife. But when you extend that to an entire gender of people you are attracted to, I think that would lead to unhappiness and a lack of fulfillment of the possibility for a great love. I can say that in some gay social groups, there is a lack of respect for being bisexual. Many people believe that you are "sitting on the fence" or afraid to say that you are really gay. For me, I can only say that denying my feelings for men would be just as bad as denying my feelings toward women. I have had wonderful relationships with both, and I wouldn't generalise by saying I prefer one over the other.

So I don't think I have answered your question, Ciro. I don't think I know the answer.

Ashely, is being gay a

Ciro D Agostino's picture

Ashely, is being gay a choice?  

Ciro D'Agostino

Cowardly

Ashley's picture

Hi Robert:

I don't *want* you to think anything Smiling If you didn't like, you didn't like it.

A few weeks ago M and I were out bowling and after she threw a ball I slapped her on the ass. There was a guy bowling with his kid next to us and he gave me a weird look. Maybe a half hour later, she was sitting next to me and put her arms around me. The guy comes over and said he "was just trying to have a nice night out with his son" and "didn't need to deal with that kind of bullshit." He was very angry, and all kinds of smartass remarks came to mind, but I was afraid. Like sick at my stomach afraid. And a few minutes later M said she wanted to leave, and we did. And the walk to my car felt like a mile.

Things like that hardly ever happen. But that they ever happen gives me pause. When I am outside of my house, I always second guess any impulse to kiss her, to touch her, to lean toward her, to look at her in the way I do. Maybe it is cowardly. But I want to feel safe, I want to feel that she is safe, and I want to feel that my property is safe. I worry that it is an unhealthy way to live, being nervous. I am sad that not everything is as romantic as we would like because of being cautious. I have decided in the past that it wasn't worth it, that I would only date men.

In any case, I think it would be a far bigger problem if I was a gay man. I think more people are more tolerant of lesbians. And if it were 50 years ago in the Wild West (or even just in my hometown in Oklahoma today) it would be a far bigger problem. I live in Philadelphia, and I am in love with a girl, and I am scared sometimes. And I watched the movie from that perspective.

Contrary Opinion

Robert's picture

Well I just saw the movie and hated it.

A movie about two people too cowardly to act on their love for one another. And in the fallout from this denial to accept reality, they cheat on their wives & girlfriends while their lives spiral downwards into violent death and lonely banishment.

Truely, a terrible & depressing movie with main characters bereft of any moral courage or intelligence. And strangely for a movie about two starcrossed lovers there were hardly any romantic or charming scenes in the movie.

Basically I came away thinking that the two main characters were a pair of arseholes for the way they treated themselves and the women in their lives. Not what the director or any of the previous reviewers wanted me to think I guess but there it is.

A complete waste of some beautiful scenery. The only bright point was that I've decided that I must visit Wyoming and Montana... Smiling

Ashley's right

Anthony's picture

Ashley's right. Most sex in the film is only implied. I'm glad. Not from prudishness, but for allowing us to enter more into the psychology of the lead character 'Ennis'. There's far more sex in 'Queer as Folk' (which I hate) or 'The L Word' (which I like more) if you're looking for it. The sex is a little more explicit in the short story by Annie Proulx (her prose is very rough, I find, but clear and concise).
What struck me most was the sense of a pure and totally absorbing love. A thing that's hard to very hard to rediscover later, once you've experienced it the first time.

Agreed

Joe Idoni's picture

John, I'll agree that he is a master. If one would like to contest this, just look at 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'.

But The Hulk? I can't remember the last time I actually fell asleep watching an 'action' film. Smiling

Idoni

Ang Lee is a master of

John M Newnham's picture

Ang Lee is a master of building undercurrents of tension in the "backstory". The Hulk is a perfect example of this. BB Mountain also. There is throughout the movie, the undercurrent of these mens love, shame, and want.

I would recommend any creative type who is interested in setting up tension which cariies through the entire story - whether in prose or on film, to watch BBM as an example.

So

Joe Idoni's picture

So.... this movie is more about love and relationships rather than gay sex?

It's funny how some people can watch porn with some guys dangly bits hanging all over/in some womans , but when it's a touching scene it's considered 'disgusting'.

But I digress. As a form of esthetics, shouldn't movies demonstrate the "..artist's metaphysical value judgements."? As such, if Ang Lee decided that this story reflected his idea of a romantic relationship.

Of course, he also directed 'The Hulk'. Smiling

Idoni

Would see it now if I could!

Derek McGovern's picture

It sounds wonderful, Ashley. Here in South Korea, however, there's still no sign of it. The good news for me, though, is that it's being released in NZ on the 9th of February - just two days before I return there. So give me another month, and I'll give you my verdict on it.

On second thoughts, since I'm supposed to be its coordinator, perhaps I'd better post my review in SOLO Film! (And I promise to get that forum started *very* soon.)

Ross as Newanda. LOL.

Jody Gomez's picture

Ross as Newanda. LOL. Brilliant.

I can't stop thinking of an

Landon Erp's picture

I can't stop thinking of an episode of South Park in which a sundance type festival overtakes the city. The young liberal type girl is always talking up how great indipendant films are meanwhile Cartman says that all independant films are about "Gay cowboys eating pudding."

I can tell I'm probably going to really like the film but that thought enters my head everytime I hear anything about the movie.

---Landon

It all basically comes back to fight or flight.

"I did not see it, nor do I

Ross Elliot's picture

"I like my cowboys shooting and riding hard, not shooting and riding hard..."

Excellent Smiling

Whenever someone mentions Brokeback Mountain, for some reason I just can't stop thinking of The Village People...

Still want to see it but

Landon Erp's picture

Still want to see it but finances aren't permitting. And I've been a huge fan of Jake since Donnie Darko.

It all basically comes back to fight or flight.

Well, there you go...

atlascott's picture

I guess I should retiring from reviewing movies I haven't seen. 

I used to hate Heath, now I like him and wish his career would take off.  I am sort of ambivalent re: Jake.  He has pretty eyes, though.

Brokeback, not Bareback

Ashley's picture

Hi Scott:

There's no reason for you to see it if you don't want to. That said, while there was sex it was pretty much implied. The movie shows the men kissing and holding one another, though not a lot. That I can recall they only actually have sex in the movie once (the rest is implied), which was the first time. All is shows is how it happened, the events leading up to. The actual sex is not seen at all, unless you count the looks on their faces. I don't think there is any frontal nudity at all. The most nudity at all is Heath Ledger having sex with his wife. Nothing at all I could possibly call graphic, and definitely not "lotsa".

It was also far from boring, if you are at all interested in the topic (again, if you aren't, I'm not trying to convince you.) It is a story of a love that started when two men were teenagers and lasted their entire lives, and how the fear of what would happen to them kept them from making a life together. It is a story of how that decision affected everything that came after. It is a story of what happened in a relationship where one person was more willing to assume the risk of being brutalized, ostracized, and rejected. It is a story about what it was like to be gay in the wild west 50 years ago. It is not primarily about sex, and those hoping for a cheap prurient thrill will be disappointed.

I saw it. The emotional

John M Newnham's picture

I saw it. The emotional conflict and struggles of the characters was handled superbly. I would recommend it. Also well shot and realistic dialogue. Some people in the theatre were moved to tears.

I did not...

atlascott's picture

I did not see it, nor do I particularly care to.  I like my cowboys shooting and riding hard, not shooting and riding hard...

From reviews I have read, it has fairly graphic depictions of anal and other man on man sex.  The story is otherwise only mediocre.

I think it is probably groundbreaking insofar as it has 2 well-known male leads having alotsa gay sex.  I think reviewers might be afraid to say that it is otherwise boring.

How's that for a bunch of second-hand judgments?

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