Sunday, December 18, 2005

Brokeback Mountain: Big Gay Fun (Ang Lee, Director)
Mama's all crampy today, and so she's not feeling at all good—more like death warmed over, as a someone in my family used to say, so that's why I've been a bit mute the last couple of days.

The kid and I went to see Brokeback Mountain on Friday. The theater was packed, and the 7pm show was already sold out at 4pm. Of course, here in Seattle, they are only showing it at two theaters, (both of which are in Capital Hill, our version of the Big Gay Neighborhood, which is kind of stupid, if you ask me). We ended up in the balcony, and because of bad acoustics at The Egyptian coupled with Heath Ledger's close-to-the-chest performance, I could only hear about 60% of the dialog. Still....

What can I say? Two smoking guys getting it on in woods? Hey, If I was Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, I'd be all touchy-grabby too. Damn, hot boys getting down and dirty, could it get any better? Gay boys and straight girls agree, "No, it could not."

Actually, Brokeback Mountain is pretty much your standard bodice ripper romance, but with dudes and nice scenery. It many ways, it reminded me of last year's Cold Mountain: pretty people pine and yearn in pretty places. One big difference was that Brokeback Mountain has more snogging, and there's nothing wrong with that my friends. Actually, even if the stars had been a hetero couple, the on-screen sex was fairly explicit; not over the top, but not phoning it in with discreet cuts to the moonlight, either. Like Cold Mountain, this is a good movie, nicely shot, with attractive, appealing star-crossed lovers overcoming (or not) obstacles to their love. That fact that the stars are both men doesn't change a thing. A lot has been said of how "brave" Heath and Jake are, but I think, phooey to that, it's about time. I give credit to both boys for their natural performances—many actors would be all precious about their love scenes, "Ooh, look at me being all actor-y as I kiss this man!", but Heath and Jake made it completely believable.

Heath's Ennis is the quintessential American Man—rough and masculine, the strong, silent type. Jake Gyllenhaal's Jack is more of a puppy, rough housing and always ready to see the bright side. The film seems to be suggesting that Jack is not being realistic; at one point Ennis says, "If this thing takes us at the wrong time or place, we're dead", and he therefore keeps their encounters to one or two "fishing trips" a year.

And here is the problem I have with this movie: we follow our heroes over twenty years from 1963 to 1983, through squalid marriage, working for daddy, kids, divorce, and playing it "straight". Now, I know that Wyoming and Texas are definitely not gay-friendly, even today. Matthew Shepard's beating death in Montana shows that the fears of the characters of the film have validity, then and now. But, the movie takes place in a bubble; it's as if the rest of the country didn't exist. The Civil Rights movement, The Chicago Seven, the Women's Movement, Disco, Punk, Gay Pride parades...none of these things exist in this movie. There's no mention of a world not populated by American Gothic cowboys and rodeo princesses. Jack tells Ennis, "If we get our own ranch we can be happy like this always". Now, I can't believe that two men that loved each other this passionately couldn't wake up one day and say, "Hey, let's move to Northern California and open a western-themed antiques store." Even in Montana, people would have heard about developments in the blue states. So, that bit bothered me all through the movie. Why didn't one of them say, "Hey, what say we get out of this dumbfuck state?"

My Recommendation? See this movie right away. It's a good movie, and if enough people see it, maybe more Hollywood actors will come out of the closet, so to speak. I'm sure this movie won't play too well in Montana or Texas, but hey, there's other places. Come on over.

Snack Foods? Foot long hot dogs of course! Sorry, hee hee.


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