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For those that have experienced the all-consuming pain of deeply loving someone who was almost right there with you but proved to be unwilling or unable to love you back in the same way – you’ll feel it when you see this movie. 

For those that have strategically repeated every word, every move, every laugh, and every step in each crafted moment together in hopes for that perfectly dealt hand to win that happily.ever.after - you’ll feel it when you see this movie. 

For those that have foolishly once believed in love running so deep, it could compensate any empty cups brought to the table by him – you’ll feel it when you see this movie.

My barely English speaking mom asked about Brokeback Mountain and when she’d be able to purchase it at her local Sam’s Club. My friend asked me to download an illegal copy and burn it for her because her pastor husband won’t let her go see it but she really wants to.

Yes, it was slow paced. Yes, it was detached.  Yes, it was intentional. Yes, that prevented some from being drawn in. Yes, its not a movie for everyone. Yes, some folks are just hop-ons to the band wagon.

Felicity Huffman’s Golden Globe speech felt like a spin-off from the Brokeback phenomenon. “I know as actors our job is usually to shed our skins. But in I think as people our job is to become who we really are. And so I would like to salute the men and women who brave ostracism, alienation, and a life lived on the margins to become who they really are.”

No energy to tie it all together.

I loved it.


Steve Expounded Thusly:

Well, thanks to Matt for getting a lot of what I wanted to say out there. It got me jump-started to finally comment on previous posts (here and here).

First of all, Ang Lee didn’t bring the detachment to the story, it was already there. This is the most astounding adaptation of a story I have ever seen. The movie was entirely built around the short story. Nearly every element in the movie was in the short story; the screenwriters took even the tiniest of details and used those to flesh out the movie. I think Ang Lee’s work on The Ice Storm demonstrated his being the perfect choice to direct this film of subsurface smoldering emotion.

Rodney’s comments are more difficult to discuss in brevity because we disagree so much. I was glad to read what he had to say because, true, there is so much positive press about the movie that you sometimes feel it’s fabricated. If I didn’t love the movie, I might feel the same way!

I feel there is indeed emotion in the film. I feel the brilliance of it is that it captured the emotion that these two could not dare show thanks to society and its influence. Ennis did love Jack tremendously, but the constant conflict of who he was and who he thought he should be and who he was raised to be were simply too much for him. The strong, steadfast man he is couldn’t allow him the luxury of Jack’s more accepting nature. Being “queer” was not acceptable to him, so he had to deal with it as was the custom: by not dealing with it. Thus the nearly imperceptible emotions inside Ennis. Heath’s acting is incredible because he was able to impart this struggle with ever nuance of his character.

I see these guys less as selfish and more as trapped. They were living the lives they thought they were supposed to be living, the lives society back then told them they had to live. Hell, many people even today believe there’s only one way to live your life. Don’t doubt that this kind of hidden life still goes on all over the world, certainly in the still-backward parts of America and definitely even in cities like Los Angeles. Yes, that is true. Here in L.A., where you’d think everyone would feel it’s okay to love someone of the same sex, the entrenched teachings of society and religion and history still mess people up enough where they can not openly live their lives.

The one thing that annoyed me about all the publicity for the movie was how people said it was filled with graphic depictions of gay sex. Uh, no, not really. Not at all. One gay sex scene, and that tastefully and honestly done. It was a rough scene, but considering where these two guys were coming from, there was no other choice for how to do the scene. (And this is exactly how it was written in the story, too, just to remind everyone.) Pent-up passions do not always come out gently, but explode. If the passion is “wrong” and “sinful” and “nasty,” then more intensity is likely, too. How often have I myself been in situations where the running commentary in my head was causing me to react with more exaggerated physicality, an effort to drown out my mind? Too often.

This movie did not affect me right away. I was surprised when I did not cry, as I had been expecting to. But once out of the theater, I was mesmerized. I even downloaded the story from The New Yorker site that night (it’s no longer there), and read it. And for a week at least, my mind would wander to the movie and a dull melancholy would seep into me. I consider that an excellent movie. It gave me more than the quick-‘n’-dirty melodrama we all seem to crave these days and gave me something much more lasting and truthful and real.

But that’s just me. 🙂

On to that Christian review… It’s a true shame when someone like Mr. Greydanus can so eloquently, if inaccurately, review what he himself calls “art” and then smothers the film with an F for recommendability and a -4 for Moral–Spiritual value.

I said the review was inaccurate, but not entirely. In fact, it has some impressive insights regarding the characters and the burden of society. But when it comes to the sexually touchy gayness of it all, Mr. Greydanus can’t help but get squeamish. The people who, to their core, believe being gay is a sin, a choice, and wrong, all seem to have chosen to portray Ennis as a victim in this movie. How utterly wrong they are. Mr. Greydanus, for his example, writes:

One particularly cold night, they wind up sharing the tent—and then, much to the shock of Ennis, amid fumblings with belt buckles, Jack unceremoniously offers him the opportunity to sin, and he takes it.

Ennis may well be surprised, but that is surmised and not directly evident in the scene. (I’ve seen the movie twice, so my memory of it is fairly solid.) Ennis wants to be with Jack as much as Jack wants to be with him. I doubt my gay Christian friends would characterize the scene as “Jack offering Ennis the opportunity to sin.” That’s laughable. As a no-doubt good Christian man, Mr. Greydanus can only speak of the sexual act—especially a gay sexual act—in the puffy tones of the religious. Ennis and Jack fuck. They are horny, they are attracted to each other, they are frustrated with their situation… and they fuck hard. I know Mr. Greydanus would have similar thoughts had this been a scene between a man and a woman out of wedlock. The “temptation” label is convenient in either case, and certainly wrong in this one.

There are other inaccuracies in the review, such as how Mr. Greydanus deconstructs the moment where Ennis beats up the driver of the truck that almost hits him, and how he describes the “marital act” between Ennis and Alma where Ennis turns her over onto her stomach. These moments both have important and moving connotations, but I believe Mr. Greydanus misreads Ennis’ motivation in both. Especially in the sex scene with Alma, where, again, his textbook religious belief leads him to color the scene with textbook religious definitions of “the marital act.”

“[Brokeback Mountain]does have a point of view—a profoundly problematic one, one that makes it potentially far more insidious than mere propaganda.” The reviewer believes homosexuality is insidious. He also thinks Brokeback is art. He certainly writes well and has a good knack for deciphering the filmic language, but when all his dissection leads him only back to his narrow-minded concept of a Christian “reality,” he’s truly been left out of the enlightenment a film like this can bring.

We all have our biases and beliefs. I just listened to a podcast on Relativism (the Pope thinks it’s the scourge of our age, of course!), and the early thinkers in that area knew that everything we see and feel about the world is colored by how we are raised and what society has taught us. Mr. Greydanus is never going to allow himself to believe that homosexuality is okay. I am never going to allow myself to believe that religion is truth. So it goes.

Let the flaming begin!

P.S.—Thanks for teaching me the term “heterosexism,” Mr. Greydanus. Sadly, I do think the term needed to be coined. How gay people can be so discriminatory against “breeders” is beyond me. HA HA!

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006 • 11:34am • Permalink

Steve (Again) Expounded Thusly:


What I do realize is that the reviewer from that site in fact did a very good job for what he’s “hired” to do. (I say “hired” because I do not know if he’s a paid reviewer for the site.) He is obviously a devout Christian working for a Christian review site. The site’s aim is to let other like-minded Christians know if a movie is going to suitable when held up to the template of Christian teachings. Of course he is going to approach the movie from that viewpoint and, despite the artistry he obviously felt was in the movie, he’s going to comment on the unacceptable homosexuality. He’s also going to give the movie a big red X to steer fellow Christians away from the movie. The site is not for all Christians, of course, but a useful tool for those who want to live their life in a very conservative Christian way.

Considering all this, his review is indeed a surprise. I have to commend Mr. Greydanus for being able to look at the film not jut through the eyes of a conservative Christian, but through the eyes of a filmmaker as well.

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006 • 9:22pm • Permalink


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