BrokeBack Mountain

So I went to see Brokeback Mountain last Friday night, being that I am hipster and didn't want to miss out on what has been hailed as "Simply one of the greatest love stories in film history" and "A landmark film and a triumph for Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal." Yet again, it is clear to me that the mass media has been paid to push some dark agenda. Brokeback Mountain was not a very good film and certainly was not "one of the greatest love stories in film history." In fact, it failed on almost every level to make me believe that Jack Twist (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Delmar (played by Heath Ledger) were star-crossed lovers. Someone should tell Ang Lee that two men herding sheep and occassionaly stealing kisses and having crazy outdoors sex a few times a year does not a love story make. All it portrayed to me was two selfish guys who like to switch hit now and again without regard for anyone else's feelings. Critics contend that, far from being a story of selfish love, Brokeback Mountain is a gut wrenching study of the consequences of forbidden love, a love that society dictates must be hidden behind the fragile facade of normal hetero lives. These critics must have seen a different movie than I did. I am sorry but this film does not easily lend itself to that argument in the least. First, apart from some sex and some whining about "what are they going to do now", the film fails to bring you into the "true love" aspect of the men's relationship. Since you are never given believable drivers underpinning the romance, you have little reason to care and even less reason to view their relationship as true love. Nor does the film effectively portray the mid-west's bias against homosexuality. Except for a few flash back's to gruesome ends and a flippant "You don't mean Jack Twist, you mean Jack Nasty!", the film did little to illuminate the danger associated with main character's love affair or the pressures forcing them to keep it hidden.

The cinematography was clean and well-done. Ang Lee's shots were slow, tedious and elicited the starkness of the landscape and the relationship between the two men. Unfortunately, this got old real quick and after forty-five minutes or so I began to feel like my eyeballs were being scraped across the screen. In addition the film unfolds at a tortured pace which caused me to look for a fast forward button at multiple points in the movie. Perhaps this was Ang Lee's clumsy attempt to further elicit in his audience the tortured feeling engulfing the leading men as they realize their relationship is doomed. If so, it failed miserably. As a director, you do not want your audience wondering "When the fuck is this going to end?" at multiple times.

I also disagree with the critics who insist that Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal (can't he just shorten his name to "Gyllen"?) deserve Oscars for their "jawdropping" performances. I think this is more a reflection that main-stream society has not yet embraced homosexuality as a life-style and still treats it as a curiosity. Had this film been a story between a man and a woman played by Christian Slater and Winona Ryder it would not have the current buzz that it has. And Winona and Christian certainly wouldn't be getting any Oscar buzz. But because this is a story about two men in love and involves homosexual acts, the actors involved are praised for otherwise pedestrian performances. I am all for Oscar-buzz if the performances are truly Oscar worthy, but am against it if the buzz is generated only because the actors are portraying an alternative lifestyle. It is as if portrayals of alternative lifestyles cause the critics do go momentarily crazy.. I can only guess that the inner workings of the typical critic's mind goes something like this: "Oh my gawd! Jake and Heath are pretending like they are two men in love! That must be so hard, they deserve an Oscar!" Such thinking does everyone a disservice. To give Heath Ledger an Oscar for speaking in monosyllabic words and grunting now and then reaches new heights of absurdity. Every time Ledger spoke on screen, I was reminded of Slingblade and Ledger's character was not mentally challenged.

My final gripe about Brokeback Mountain, is its failure to promote safe-sex in either heterosexual or homosexual relationships. Not once did I see a condom used in the entire film. In fact, the film seems to promote unsafe sex. In one scene, Ennis essentially tells his wife that bare backing is the only way to fly and that if she doesn't like it they won't fly at all. In another scene, Jack Twist justifies going on sex tours in Mexico in order to fulfill his sexual needs. What kind of message is Ang Lee trying to send here? They had STD's in the sixty and seventy's and they also had rubbers. Did they go unused? This is socially irresponsible filmmaking at its worst.

To sum up, Ang Lee used slow, tortured camera work, an alternative lifestyle, a twangy soundtrack and short terse dialogue to create a meandering film which felt very much like the gay cowboy version of A History of Violence, complete with the unfulfilling ending. Was Brokeback Mountain a bad film? No. But I would say it is more of a rent it and watch it at home film than a rush out to see it at the theatre film.

Oh, and if you have already seen Brokeback Mountain, you should watch the parody "Bareback Mountain" and try to argue that the parody isn't just as worthy of Oscar buzz.

Posted by Pernicious at January 1, 2006 2:04 PM

Comments

Years ago South Park had an episode about a film festival coming to town and they kept commenting how all the films were just about "gay cowboys eating pudding." It was awesome, especialyl sinceI saw it after Brokeback Mountain was released.

Anyway, Nnither Jake nor Heath can act their way out of a box, so I really doubt they can convince me they're in love. I'll watch it when it's out on DVD but I have extremely low expectations.

Posted by: karen at January 12, 2006 11:13 AM

Waiting for the DVD is a good idea.. A real good idea.

Posted by: pernicious at January 14, 2006 3:40 PM

very funny. The first time I did another boy was when i was 6. I never put my pee pee up another mans ass till i was well into my 40's. When guys do it "For the first time," it's generally, no NEVER, anal. It's blow jobs, making out and watching each other dance and ejaculate. The sex part was amazingly WRONG.

Didn't they consult any homo's in hollywood? I know... THere aren't any!

Posted by: besmirch at November 16, 2006 4:19 PM

You suck! Brokeback is one of the best films ever! Homophobe

Posted by: ky at July 24, 2007 6:09 PM
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