Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Brokebacklash

I put off seeing Brokeback Mountain partially because I had so many other movies I wanted to see, and partially because I honestly wasn’t sure I wanted to see it. I would probably catch it on DVD sometime anyway.

Then an opening appeared in my busy movie schedule, and all the talk about this movie made me decide to go ahead and check it out.

Brokeback was a surprisingly engrossing movie for which I have nothing but praise. But I think it was wrong for so many people to assume it would win Best Picture this year.

Many people including myself were shocked when it didn’t win. I wasn’t disappointed, however. It was up against four other excellent films, none of which were typical Hollywood blockbuster fare.

This is the first year I believe I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees before the Oscars. (I don’t rely on awards shows to tell me what movies are good, mind you, but sometimes the buzz they generate gets my attention.)

Some otherwise rational critics have been crying “Hollywood homophobia!” about Brokeback’s defeat. Crash, the winning film, was about tolerance of the racial variety. Why shouldn't that movie have won?

I get the impression some people wanted the Academy to make a statement by picking Brokeback Mountain instead of picking the best candidate in the category. Halle Berry and Denzel Washington are fine actors, but I thought the year they both won awards the Academy was doing just that. I could be wrong.

Brokeback lost, and everyone will just have to quit their bitching. But it’s still an admirable achievement for all involved.

Between us, though, I was rooting for Capote.

13 comments:

Mr Q said...

I want to see Al Capote, the Broke Back thing, I'll go ahead and say it. Totally overrated, I have not even seen the film yet but it must be as good as the passion which it was intendeded to compete against. Shoot me.
Those who want to see a lot of homosexual, gay or whatever label you choose action should consider the hard work, I mean hard, that has been out there for a while now.

My favorite, stands for luscious libido

The L word
Queer Ass Folk

As a film critic, that i'm not, I would say that those shows have more connection with the realities of the third genre and I put them in a category that BBM just can't touch.

When someone wants to make a statement, consistency is essential and BBM is just one those people that raise their hand to ask a stupid question, and BBM to me just sounds like great marketing that sparks a lot attention not controversy, two different things; the first one is the most profitable of the two.
So, I choose give my cash to something entertaining not something marketable, unless there is cut for me.

As I walk through the valley of the shadows of gays, I shall fear no queer...

Pete Bogs said...

I don't know if BBM was made to stir up controversy, though it could certainly expect its share... I thought it was a good human relationship movie - just with gay (bisexual, actually) humans...

Bird said...

Mr. Q -
I'm not sure how you can judge something you haven't seen.

I think BBM did indeed "cash in" on the marketability - and why not- every movie that can - does. I'm not so sure that it intended to do that - the producers, director and the actors took a big risk in making this film.

some GL folk i know have commented that the flaw they see in the movie is its tragic consequences -i.e. when do we get to see a movie about a homosexual couple that has a happy ending? These folks felt that the straight world can't tolerate positive and healthy portrayals of gay love. I say - yeah, probably true - at least not yet. a homosexual couple MUST be punished - that's the premise.

however, i thought the film was very well-done and told a compelling story. my heart broke for jack and ennis - they so clearly were soul mates trapped in the wrong place at the wrong time, and because of society's constucts,unable to break through and be who they really were.

Pete Bogs said...

bird - some people pointed out after Basic Instinct that bisexual/gay people are always portrayed as psychos... last season on 24, most of the bad guys had those tendencies... I don't think it was a coincidence...

however, in the instance of BBM I thought it was just another tragic love story... there are many of those that are "straight" stories as well... just in this case it was bisexual men... which I thought was bold... I didn't see it as "this lifestyle must be punished in the end," the way the old Hayes Code demanded... the guys are shown in a mostly sympathetic light... and in the case of Jake's character especially, a tragic light...

but I could be wrong...

fatty ~ said...

isn't it funni when issues like homosexuality get so much attention - anything other than total agreement is pointed out as deepseated homophobic intentions?

how do these rational people get so carried away?

Mr Q said...

Bird, I shouldn't do that (judge), but is just a way of saying that i don't believe all the buzz.
Another point of view I have is that the whole cast is in need of some sort of establishment in their careers, which until now were not that shiny and Ang Lee also needed a boost after Hulk. The producers were not taking a risk by choosing this theme, nor the actor or anyone involved, the film got so much attention that it may set everyone involved for the rest of their lives and they will be an attractive addition to future projects. Again, all this opinion is from the buzz. I comment on the art side of it once I see it, I will already be biased by then but what do you expect of someone who thought that the Crying Game was an emotionally intense story.
And agree with you about the sad part, what a great idea it was to market it becuase is a "dare" for hollywood and appeals to the haters that love to see homosexuals suffering, the film services a lot of different appetites even phobics, becuase it will irresistible to watch since they are also a bit gay.

Mr Q said...

Bogs, BBM is like those times when I think I should call the media and tell them that i know of all this "secret information" about the corruption with the local grossvernment and if they think it will sell then they're in, at any rate, if all I get is jail time for difamation, at least a book could be made after appearing on tv and you know were I'm going with this. Attention.

Pete Bogs said...

I don't think homophobia was behind BBM's failure to sweep the awards... the movie's had so much box office success and has been so widely discussed in the media that I don't think that's even an issue for the movie... obviously a lot of people are seeing it, so homophobia's maybe not as widespread among moviegoers as one might have thought...

Capote also had a gay protagonist... and Transamerica, about which I know very little, got a lot of attention too... Breakfast On Pluto also had GLBT themes, and was a great film, though didn't seem to get a lot of attention...

Bird said...

Bogs,
I suspect that homophobes DIDN'T go see BBM (and as I've heard and read, the gay community didn't flock to it that much - straight, liberal folk did though).

But, the film wasn't all that widely distributed. Some theaters just wouldn't show it, and some only ran it for a very short time. It's main audience came from the coasts and from large, hip, urban centers.

Mr. Q - the risk of this film for the actors is getting labeled as gay. it's still, regretably, a stigma. and i think the love-making and kissing scenes took some guts to do. to my recollection, there's not been anything as explicit as this on the big screen before.

Hellpig said...

The questionable genesis of Brokeback Mountain

VFR reader James applies a little common sense to author Annie Proulx’s account of how she came to write Brokeback Mountain:

Proulx wrote the story about eight years ago, and said it was “generated by years and years of subliminal observation. But the incident that actually made me start writing it was one night when I was in a bar in Sheridan, Wyoming—the Mint Bar. There was a ranch hand I used to see. This guy was back leaning against the wall by the pool tables. The bar was packed with good-looking women, and he wasn’t looking at them—he was watching the guys….He was about sixty, and he watched them with a kind of subdued hunger that made me wonder if he was country gay.”
This is a lie and pure unadulterated bullshit. I’ve been in the Mint Bar as well as a number of other cowboy bars out west and if a cowboy was “watching the guys ... with a kind of subdued hunger” he would be knocked on his ass is short order, either by the guy who noticed him or by a guy being watched after being notified by the observer. I guarantee you that these guys wouldn’t stand for this behavior for one second. This is not to say that there aren’t homosexual cowboys, but if one was present at the Mint Bar he would go out of his way not to scope out the other guys with a “subdued hunger” as, after his ass whipping, he would instantly be persona non grata in his own hometown. In a town as small as Sheridan this would leave him with no alternative except to move.


James adds a qualification:

I might add that after I e-mailed this I remembered that it has been 28 years since I've been in the Mint and I know that Sheridan has grown considerably since then. Perhaps there is now a pocket of liberals where this guy could find refuge instead of moving out of town. I don't know.

Pete Bogs said...

bird - I wouldn't expect homophobes to see it... but the box office numbers suggest to me that there are more people willing to give a movie like this a try than one might expect... but you're probably right about it being us "coastal elites" seeing the movie... it started here in single theater but ended up as many screens as any blockbuster...

you're right about the explicitness - anal sex isn't even suggested much less "shown" in Hollywood films...

hell - I think you're reading too much into the author's word choice... a look on someone's face is very subjective, and writers will take a think like that and run with it...

I don't really care from whence it came... I liked it...

Lev Raphael said...

Thanks for the sensible take on BBM. I thought Capote and Crash were both much more powerful films. And as an author, I thought they were better written. With BBM, I admired how well it was adapted from the story, how faithful it was to the story's emotional content, but I wasn't blown away. It didn't move me the way the other two did; it just wasn't as profound.

Pete Bogs said...

thank you, lev... I haven't read the books myself... I honestly did like all five nominees but I don't think anyone should have presumed it would win... looks like many did... even Jack Nicholson, who gave out the award, seem shocked...