Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A review of that fucking cowboy movie

I know many of you will think I've been under a rock since I have just gotten around to seeing Brokeback Mountain. After all, critics heralded as the Best Thing Ever when it came out and the Academy agreed by honoring it with no less than five Oscars - including a Best Director's nod for Ang Lee.

So excuse me when I say that by doing so the Academy reamed Brokeback competitors harder than Heath Ledger reamed Jake Gyllenhall during their first sex scene in the pup tent.

Before I launch into my review, let me issue a disclaimer. I have no problem with gays. I have no problem with gay relationships. If you are gay, and want to marry another gay person I will come and dance - gaily- at your wedding. I have no problems with gay sex. Go right ahead and Toss That Salad. Give 'em the ol' Thirsty Altar Boy. Back that ass up. Ride 'em Cowboy. Whatever.

I don't even have a problem with gays being depicted in movies or on television. David from Six Feet Under is one of my all-time favorite small screen characters. I root for him, pardon the pun, even in reruns on Bravo. I don't have a problem with the honest depictions of gays or of the discrimination they face.

What I do have a problem with is giving an Academy Award to a director who turned a good story into a heavy-handed propoganda piece that assumes the audience is too dim to pick up on the characters' angst without being helped along by excessive imagery.

In Brokeback Mountain, whenever the main characters Jack and Ennis are together, it's always against the backdrop of mountain splendor. Whether they were gazing at one another over the campfire or frolicking half-clothed through some grassy meadow, the setting is always perfect. Natural. Beautiful.

But at home, in their heterosexual marriages, the settings are much different. Ennis' home is depicted in drab shades of browns and grays. There he is forced to endure the domstic hell of constantly crying snot-nosed babies and mediocre sex with his mousy, sad-eyed wife. Jack's home, while a little brighter, is equally depressing in its own way. It's cold and sparse, with boxy, uncomfortable looking furniture. His wife is superficial and overmade, his in-laws uptight and overbearing. His kid is a non-character, barely a ghost.

Later, after Jack's death, when Ennis goes to visit his dead lover's parents even their house is depicted as ramshackle and drab and they are portrayed as sad, bitter hulls of heterosexual humanity.

The message of this imagery: Homosexuality is beautiful, natural, liberating. Heterosexuality is a drab, stifling artificial social construct.

The truth is, neither is better than the other. They're just different. I would have preferred to have watched the story of Jack and Ennis unfold without being bombarded with non-so-subtle visual cues the director thought necessary to stimulate the happy/sad responses in my brain. I didn't need them. The story could have told me all I needed to know if the director had only allowed it to.

51 comments:

Andrea said...

I haven't seen it at all, it just didn't sound like a good movie, regardless of which character likes what with whom. Your review makes it seem like the director cared less about making a good film and more about making a Point.

Morgan said...

It wasn't a bad story, and it captured the turmoil of two gay men who wanted to be together in a time and region that didn't accept homosexuality.
But the director couldn't let the story stand on its own, which ended up making Brokeback Mountain an insult both to the story and to the viewer.
It sucked.

eaglewood said...

What I find amazing in that you did not know it was a propaganda piece to begin with.

This is one of those movies (as you probably figured) on my never to see list, and I knew it was propaganda.

Erik said...

The truth is, neither is better than the other.

I'd argue the point but I dont have the time nor inclination nor energy.

but if you are making the point (as I assume you are) that hollywood gives accolades to movies that arent all that good and believes the populace to be composed of idiots, then I totally agree.

Morgan said...

Eaglewood, I guess I was hoping that the stuff I heard about being a propoganda piece was all conservative slant, but as it turns out this time the conservatives were right. And you know how much I hate saying that.

Erik, I actually meant both things. Hollywood does seem to favor messages over real stories these days. But given my opinion that gay people are born gay, and given that I don't want to believe God makes mistakes, then I can't hold my heterosexuality as superior to homosexuality.

There are more heterosexuals, but being more prevalent doesn't make something better.

eaglewood said...

I finally got my answer to Andrea posted on my blog.

Thought you would like to know.

Anonymous said...

u r obviously homophobic.. shame on you prissy cold victorian bitch!!!

Morgan said...

So if one doesn't like a gay-themed movie it means they're anti-gay?

I never liked 'Titanic.' I thought the stupid subplot about Jack and Rose's relationship ruined it. Does that make me anti-heterosexual?

CJ said...

Admit it Morgan. This whole post is tied to your hatred of cowboys.

Sterculian Rhetoric said...

VD's Italian cousin gives his take on the movie:

Brokeback Mountain:
Is a film about two cowboy. One night is a very cold so they fuck and with a many sheep to choose instead of man bottom, I no a understand. For me is a better they fuck with a they horses.
Time she a passes. Two gay cowboy they a marry women and have a the children but meet for sweaty man love. In a the end the two they a meet in a bar, kill all a those gay bashers and drink many mojitos and they a live happily every after except one a cowboy is shit.
For me Bareback a Mountain I give 20 out of a 10. This because it only took a me 20 minutes to go a sleep. Luckily this a time I don't snore too much so Mrs Luciano don't smash a my balls in like when we went to a Lost in Translation.

Morgan said...

BP and VD, in the event that my husband leaves me, citing Excessive Spousal Sarcasm as the cause for divorce, could I have your hands in marriage? I can't think of anyone who makes me laugh like the two of you do.

And I forgive your Italian cousin for writing a better review than I did. Yes, it hurt a little. But it was worth it.

I watched the Life Aquatic. It would have been nice to have had a pair of balls to smash during that movie. The pain would have been a pleasant distraction.

Andrea said...

If Brokeback Mountain had at least one ranchhand like this
http://www.owensvalleyhistory.com/cowgirls12/angelina_jolie.jpg

...well then, I guess I'd be all over it.

Andrea said...

Don't know why that got cut off

http://www.owensvalleyhistory.com
/cowgirls12/angelina_jolie.jpg

Morgan said...

Nah, I like her better as the Tomb Raider.

Anonymous said...

I don't put much stock in movie critics or Oscar nominations or awards. So many movies are tackling social issues today and it seems that they are recommended or panned for political reasons. I don't think that is what you did here and I don't think the person who called you homophobic is correct. You just didn't like the way the movie was directed. I haven't seen it either but your review makes me want to see it now just to see if I get the same impression. Time to get to Netflix.
God Bless You,
Margaret

Andrea said...

Tomb Raider is a favorite, yes, but she's hot no matter what. Have you seen "Gia?"

Sterculian Rhetoric said...

Morgan Le Fay, I am afraid that you must seek the approval of our Pater Familias. Ignore their dowry talk.
BP and VD

Morgan said...

I suppose we're destined to be apart. My Pater Familias won't even let me date.

But just in case, I have a stash of ill-gotten gain with "dowry" written all over it.

Morgan said...

Margaret,

Sometimes the critics are right. But when people start talking about "Oscar buzz" before the movie even hits the screen it almost smacks of political campaigning. I suppose Hollywood is like anyplace else - incestuous. It's hard to know what to believe.

Andrea,
I haven't seen Gia. The last Angelina Jolie movie I watched was Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I liked it. It was kind of like War of the Roses, only less dark and much sexier.

Andrea said...

Me and my husband were just talking about those two last night. Even though Brad is a good-looking guy, I would take his woman over him in a heartbeat.
Yeah, you should check out Gia.

sammyray said...

Well, I saw the movie and didn't get the "homosexual against the beautiful mountains/heterosexuals in a dump" propaganda thing. I am inclined to agree with you, except that the two meet in several scenes that has nothing to do with nature and mountains.

As for the movie, it didn't move me all that much. I think it aspired to touch me the way "Remains of the Day," one of the greatest unrequited love stories of all time, did. Just lacked something.

Woozie said...

My brother didn't particularly care for it either. He said that he just didn't like the story very much (not because they're gay.)

Bobbb - Citizen of Earth said...

Haven’t seen it, don’t plan to
What do I care about gay cowboys?
You could easily do a film about gay firemen or Naval Officers.
They don’t need to be swept under a rug, and they don’t need to be glorified on the silver screen.
They just are what they are, like everyone else.

I roll my eyes at the notion that the “Academy” hands out awards to films for being socially redeeming providing some kind of service or validation for a group of people or a political ideal etc etc etc…

I just don’t feel like the subject matter is that important when considering a film for awards.
It’s HOW you deal with the subject matter that counts.
If it feels like propaganda, it probably is to some degree– and is thus less likely to get my “thumbs up” (No pun intended.) whether I agree with the subject matter or not.

I thought the movie “China Syndrome” was timely, fairly accurate and a valid attempt to bring some of the dangers of the nuclear industry to the publics attention.
But as a film, it was sub par. I hope it got no awards – but honestly I don’t know.

On the other hand “Schindler’s List” walked off with a boatload of Oscars, and in my opinion, deserved every one of them.
Not because of the subject matter, or the excellent hither to untold story.
But because of the way the story was told.
Compelling, engaging dialog, cinematic excellence, comprehensive editing, outstanding acting, combined to make a movie that left you feeling like you had just witnessed history first hand. I remember the first time I saw it. After three hours no one left their seat when it ended. People sat there in awe and watched the credits while the haunting sounds of Izak Pearlman’s violin filled the theatre.

I would wager that didn’t happen at the end of “Brokeback”

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to think of how many earthquakes have been spawned by nuclear power plants and I'm having some trouble here...
It got nominated for a few oscars but didn't win any: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078966/awards
I like the modifed movie trailers for things like "Brokeback Star Wars" or "Brokeback Rocky" Some of those are hilarious. There might even be a brokeback Schindler too
--Invid

Bobbb - Citizen of Earth said...

invid
I think you missed the point

anyway who was talking about earthquakes?

Makes no sense...

No wonder you are having trouble
The premis was that the industry has some serious safety issues.

Not a topic for discussion here anyway

Anonymous said...

homophobe! homophobe!

Morgan said...

What's wrong, anon? Are the twins ignoring you again?

Anonymous said...

You look just like Leslie Van Houten.

Sterculian Rhetoric said...

Post something new! I'm bored in Bangkok now.
BP

Morgan said...

Perhaps I should post about my days hanging with Charlie. All the wild parties, the brain-washing, the uncomfortable silences after the murders....What do you think, SR? ;-)

Morgan said...

P.S.
SR, I consider sharing a troll with you a perverse compliment of sorts.

That Cleaning Lady said...

Sadly hollywood is run by and for homosexuals to promote their lifestyle. I lost a gay brother to AIDS and a lot of good friends, I too have nothing against someone's lifestyle...but I don't want to watch ANYONE frolicking half dressed through the meadows, and I don't want to be told that gay is good or straight is bad...my choice to make my decisions based on my beliefs. I chose to add this movie to my NEVER TO SEE list.

Anonymous said...

Twins? Idiot.

mitzibel said...

Having never seen the movie and being two sheets to the wind, I feel I must play devil's advocate based solely on your review.

Perhaps the ham-fisted directorial choices were made not to portray heterosexuality in and of itself as a bad and drab and horrible thing, but rather to make the point that the stifling of one's erotic urges, whatever they be, is just a slow way of killing the soul.

A gay man can be married to a breeder chick who would be an absolute passionate wildcat in the sack, given half a chance, but still feel as if he's in a cafeteria-colored hell. If a woman is married for thirty years to the man who popped her cherry in the backseat of his car when she was sixteen and didn't know any better, there might be issues of coldness and decade-simmering hostility marring the household.

No matter what the sexes involved, if your heart (not to mention hard-wired sexual orientation) is somewhere else, even up some over-hyped pretty boy's bunghole, you could be in Munchkin land and it's still going to feel like lukewarm oatmeal.
'sall I'm sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Fucking christian homophobe slut. Reply, bitch. What twins you talking about? I got a twin pair of balls, if that's what you want, and you're STILL not allowed to suck them u slut

thimscool said...

Life's a bitch when you run out of crack, isn't it anon?

But fear not! You are a clear winner and your success in life is inevitable. Just keep on hustling for the next hit and eventually you'll get there.

We're all rooting for you! Go get em, champ.

Bobbb - Citizen of Earth said...

Sadly hollywood is run by and for homosexuals to promote their lifestyle.

Bit of a stretch I think, you forgot to add Jewish to this stereotype…

I haven’t noticed an over abundance of :Gay” movies – just “bad” ones

Anonymous:
Here’s a reply for ya
Take your “twins” and your lack of manners elsewhere
Perhaps you are just not bright enough to follow along.

Morgan said...

Mitzibel, I think you're very on point. The imagery was likely an attempt to show the darkness of denying oneself.

But the movie went overboard in portraying the heterosexuals as so repressed and artificial. The heterosexuals were the bad guys, even though the homosexuals could have avoided their unhappiness by being honest.

Of course it was the sixties and that was a tough time for gays to come out. As I said the movie did a good job portraying their angst; it just didn't need to be so heavy-handed.

Morgan said...

TCL, I have to agree with thimscool. There's a perception that gays and Jews run Hollywood but that's far from reality.

Hollywood may be progressive, but remember that movies wouldn't be made if they didn't have an audience.

And FYI -- AIDS is no longer just a gay disease. There are a lot of heterosexuals with it. Does that mean the heterosexual lifestyle is wrong?

Morgan said...

Bobb, thanks again for your spirited defense, but save your breath. If my new troll is too stupid to figure out the twins reference then he's not worth playing with.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of heterosexual drug users with AIDS....

http://barnesworld.blogs.com

J.L. Seagull said...

"Stupid bird"? Nice. Some damn hippie you are.

Morgan said...

I've taken in hundreds of hapless hawks and owls over the years. Alas, some are smarter than others and I'd be lying if i didn't note that Joe, while big of heart, is small of brain.

thimscool said...

? Not sure why you agreed with my opinion, Morgan...

I expressed no opinion about the movie since I haven't seen it.

The only comment I've made here is heartfelt words of encouragement for the continued downward spiral of your anonymous troll (they show such promise).

~~~

Did you get my email about the hawk?

Morgan said...

Thimscool, sorry. I had you confused with Bobb. For some reason I thought you were the one who'd said Hollywood wasn't run by Jews and gays.
So, a clarification. Bobb said it and I agred.
Now I shall go check my email.

Morgan said...

Luke, I just checked my email and nothing. Are you sure you sent it to the right address:

morganofthelake@hotmail.com

Hotmail may just be acting wonky today.

Morgan said...

"The only comment I've made here is heartfelt words of encouragement for the continued downward spiral of your anonymous troll (they show such promise)."

Yeah, at first, when I realize I'd attracted a troll I was all like, "Cool!"

Then I realized it was a retarded troll. What a letdown. Hopefully I'll eventually attract one who doesn't have to wear a helmet.

thimscool said...

I resent it, but I had the address correct the first time. I suspect that your spam filter is filtering out my address.

I'll just post the email in the next thread up, to keep Joe company.

thimscool said...

Helter Skelter among the prat-infested one.

Feel the Manson.

Piper said...

Well said, well spoken Morgan.

Haven't seen it either. And I have nothing against gays. I would easily switch for George Clooney because he's the coolest man roaming the planet, but that's another story.

Anyways, as a husband and father of two I have precious little time. And in that time, I want to be entertained and moved and challenged and I don't believe that Brokeback will do any of that for me. I'm not homophobic so it won't make me overcome any homophobia I have. And I'm not really keen on a boring love-story in the mountains. I prefer my romance to be comedic and in the form of Defending Your Life by Albert Brooks.

Now give me two women that retreat into the wilderness for some exploring and I'm there, first in line. And if that makes me a huge hypocrite than so be it.

Anonymous said...

The original post was a bit lightweight. Just what is 'excessive imagery' to a "hippie"!?

Really, that's what the country looks like. And since I remember the 60s and 70s, and I'm not from wealth, that's the way homes looked -- and still look like now. Sure my parents stayed together until we were older but drinking, gambling, infidelity and recession instilled an insecurity which is the lot of poor children.

Both of the characters are insecure and Ennis in particular was struck by love and in a real pickle. That's not to excuse cheating; it just shows deep flaws.

The contrast between country scenes and town is surely part of the story, just as it was in the original short story. Many people escape to the countryside and for the same underlying reason.

I would have thought that you'd at least liked the music: high lonesome guitar, pedal steel (Garcia made me a lover), The Allman Brother's Melissa (key insight into Ennis), the ending Dylan song (done a bunch by the Grateful Dead in the 60s).

It was a very good movie. Plenty to think about, spiritual depth, and a mix of messages. For gay people there were no easy answers but candid implications about outcomes of actions, if they take it seriously.