Friday, April 28, 2006

Brokeback Mountain: Reality vs Pop Culture

I finally got around to seeing Brokeback Mountain. Best Buy had a promotion where when you purchase the DVD you receive the book Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay, FREE (a $16 value, no less). YES! I'd finally get the book version I've been wanting! The first Best Buy had completely sold out of the promo item so I initially thought I'd be resigned to buying it used on DVD at Hollywood Video. As chance would have it the other Best Buy near my house actually had plenty in stock, so I did end up buying the DVD new as well as receiving the book.

Having had time to read/listen to other people's reactions, reviews, etc. about the film long before I actually saw it, I've noticed one constant: The majority of straight men that had the wherewithall to see the movie, seem to find it slow paced and "boring," while straight women seem to friggin' love it. I think it all boils down to the whole machismo vs "chick flick" thing. Just an interesting observation. I'm always fascinated by what does and doesn't appeal to people and why.

I liked the movie. I didn't necessarily think it lived up to the whole Oscar hype, but visually I thought it was a beautiful film and the majority of the acting was great. However the fact that Michelle Williams performance was nominated for an Oscar still baffles me. Personally, I thought Anne Hathaway had a more interesting character and delivered a better performance than Williams did. And I must say, Heath Ledger's performance did live up to the hype. I thought he was great and though I find Jake to be super-dreamy, Ledger's performance was more consistent and just better overall. I have a newfound respect for Ledger as an actor now.

I think one of the reasons I liked the film was because, to me, it was realistic in the sense that it was another one of those gay-themed movies that doesn't necessarily have a happy ending. As morbid as it sounds, I tend to have more respect for those movies as opposed to the ones that portray being gay as some kind of wacky misadventure complete with a soundtrack you can dance to. Don't get me wrong, those movies can be fun, but I can't take them seriously. That's not to say that being gay is some kind of neverending funeral march, but trust me, it's not as fabulously accepted as Hollywood or some of us would like to believe.


Which brings me to the topic that I've been discussing (read naysaying) with some of my friends and fans of the film since its release. Though I admit that having a mainstream film with mainstream actors playing the leads is a step in the right direction as far as bringing otherwise "taboo" issues into the mainstream in order to stimulate a dialogue among people, I don't necessarily feel like this movie was some magical beginning to a brave new world. Unlike most of the gay people whose reviews I've read and/or talked to, I don't see this movie as a landmark simply because it received positive acclaim and an Oscar nomination. That's all great of course, but I'm not deluded enough to think I'm going to be "bonding" with any of the people in the red state I live in, much less change the way they think anytime soon. It's just not realistic.

*POSSIBLE MOVIE SPOILER*

Another issue the movie stirred up was what is is to be a "man." Apparently the whole aspect of a gay man being portrayed as rugged as opposed to the whole over coiffed metrosexual schtick, is "mind bending" to some people. Personally I was much more interested in another topic the movie touched on: violence. Suffice to say I thought this particular topic helped round out the total package that is Brokeback Mountain. I think sometime people get too wrapped up in the ideals of homosexuality and can't or won't see the forest for the trees. Unfortunately violence is still a very real side-effect of homosexuality. I think Matthew Shepherd was an all too grim reminder of that.

And last but not least, I have to comment on the whole hubbub via The Advocate in regards to Gene Shalit's alleged "antigay review" of the film. Apparently they took offense with Shalit's perception that Jake Gyllenhaal's character, Jack was a "sexual predator" who "tracks Ennis down and coaxes him into sporadic trysts." According to GLAAD: "The characterization of Jack as a 'predator' and Ennis as a victim reflects a fundamental lack of understanding about the central relationship in the film and about gay relationships in general." I'm sorry but that's just plain bullshit. It never ceases to piss me off when the gay "community" takes offense at anything that puts them in a bad, but not necessarily unrealistic light. That's not to say that Shalit is right...or wrong. It's simply his interpretation as a viewer. That's it. If you don't like his conclusion, fine, but don't pull "defamation of character" outta your ass (no pun intended) just because you don't agree. That's just ridiculous. Like any film review it's all relative. Form your own opinion and see what movies interests you and avoid the films that don't. It really is just that simple.

[ Click the image to see Brokeback Mountain in 30 seconds ]

8 Comments:

Blogger Red said...

I watched the movie, I wanted to see what the whole hype was all about and whether it was Oscar worthy or not *like Im a good judge of that!* Overall, I thought the movie sucked. My opinion isn't based on the male/male relationship. It's based on the plot and the story line and the fact that it didn't keep my interest like others have *shrugs*

Saturday, April 29, 2006 4:57:00 PM  
Blogger Rene Merced Jr said...

I haven't seen a single movie that was nominated this last year. (was King Kong this year?) But, I do have it on my list at Netflix. Movies with a central gay theme doesn't bother me. The trailer made it look like Legends of the Fall, or something and I usually wait for the DVD release when it comes to tearjerkers or chick flick, unless it's one of those big epics.

So, basically, it sounds like everything else I've heard about the nominated movies last year - it's just OK.

Still sounds better than Million Dollar Baby (ugh).

Saturday, April 29, 2006 5:45:00 PM  
Blogger It's Me, Maven... said...

Love those Bunnies!

Saturday, April 29, 2006 7:21:00 PM  
Blogger girlzoot said...

One of the true signs of an oscar worthy film in my opinion is the fact that it can stir up as many issues as this one has over and over again.

I do appreciate you at least bringing up the violence at least. My friends and I discussed the violence between the two men, but so many of the women I talk to just want to discuss the love story over and over again.

Oh and I have to email you a flickr contact of mine she has tons of 30s and 40s art she collects. Every time I see one of her phots I think of your stuff.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Quiggs said...

I absolutely love your take on things, we have a lot in common. I did see Brokeback and I think I was too ivaded by opinions and hype to even look at it without judgement....I went into the movie with my preconceieved notions. I agree that Michelle Williams totally sucked - Quiggs

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 6:23:00 PM  
Blogger Kirkkitsch said...

Red-
Red, Red, Red. Don't be afraid to embrace Brokeback Mountain. It's okay. Really. LOL! Just yankin' yer chain. I swear, this movie brought out those hardcaore Clay Aiken-like fans that would sooner pipe bomb you than hear a discouraging word.

I liked the movie for the camera work, the scenic backdrops, SOME of the acting, Jake Gyllenhaal's chest *ahem* and that it was realistic.

I do agree that the pace was somewhat slow, but then it's a movie about life, not Die Hard 4. LOL!

Thanks for commenting! :)

Rene-
I agree with you in regards to the nominees just being OK. I'm trying to think if I saw any of them either...before the awards that is. The nominated films were:

-Brokeback Mountain
-Capote
-Crash
-Good Night, and Good Luck
-Munich

I saw BBM only after it was released on DVD, I know I wanna buy Capote and I will have to wait until I am in the right frame of mind to watch GN&GL and Crash. I have no interest in Munich.

And yes, King Kong was this year. It was nominated for F/X and Sound...I think. I had zero interest in that one as well, but everyone keeps saying how good it is, so I'm sure I'll rent it eventually.

NuggetMaven-
Bunnies make everything better! LOL! Did you notice the bunny ears on the Thanksgiving turkey during the re-enactment of Brokeback? LOL!

Girlzoot-
I agree. Good movies encourage dialogue and make you think. Though, I think some people's ideas/opinions are chiseled in stone and there's nothing that's going to change them. Oh well, c'est la vie.

Ooh, cool! Can't wait to see the images! You know I am a sucker for retro images! Bring it on! :)

Cole-
I'm glad someone does. I was recently informed by a good friend that I'm very judgemental (what? moi?). Said in such a way as to make me feel guilty about my opinions. It worked...for a few days. Until I talked to another friend and they reminded me that everyone has their own opinions about things and they're not rushing to apologize for them. I agreed and have felt much better ever since! Viva l'opinion!!

Ech. Michelle Williams. Yuck.

Thanks for taking the time to comment! I appreciate it! :)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 7:38:00 PM  
Blogger Jeremy Barker said...

I wouldn't have thought I would be interested in getting back into the Brokeback debate this many months later, but I was quite engaged with your take on it.

I also respect a movie that is willing to have an unhappy ending. I can't stand when everything wraps up in a tidy little package because most things don't.

Thursday, May 04, 2006 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger Kirkkitsch said...

Jeremy-
Thank you! I appreciate the compliment. True, life doesn't always (or as often as we're led to believe) wrap up into a neat little package of tolerance and happily ever after. I think that's one of the reasons I had more respect for a movie like Brokeback Mountain as opposed to say, To Lie With Dogs or Jeffrey.

Thanks for taking the time to comment! :)

Monday, May 08, 2006 4:05:00 AM  

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