Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Shadow of Brokeback Mountain

A Utah movie theater made headlines this week by abruptly canceling its planned screening of Brokeback Mountain. The theater owner, Larry Miller (also owner of the Utah Jazz) refused to comment on why he did so--but nobody is mystified. And it's a shame, because it's a great film. (And yes, I have seen it.)

Seventh Sister asked me to put up this stub post so she could write about this in detail. You might wish to withhold any commentary until she blogs her comments.


Anonymous said...

I'd just like to point out that the Utah Jazz (used to play in New Orleans) are the most misnamed team in sports. The Los Angeles Lakers (used to play in Minnesota) are a distant second. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

The movie was scheduled to play at the Megaplex at Jordon Commons in Sandy, Utah, a Salt Lake suburb. According to Yahoo Movies/Showtimes, this theater is currently showing the quite-incredibly-gory "Hostel" and the R-rated "Casanova," a movie I'm sure shows plenty more of Heath Ledger than "Brokeback Mountain" does (Ledger plays Casanova).

The hypocrisy of this "traditional values" stance seems especially unfortunate for all of the people in Sandy who probably *do* want to see the movie before they can Netflix it (and the cinematography certainly deserves a big screen).

It also seems like Mr. Miller's true motivation is the Almighty Dollar. Make your narrow-minded customers happy that you've taken the gosh darn homosexuals out of the theater complex so they can see "Cheaper By the Dozen 2" in peace, but make sure the apostate teenagers can pile in for gore and heterosexual sex.

If it sounds like I'm hopping mad, I am. First of all, most distributors have to follow very strict rules about releases, and I certainly hope that the "Brokeback" distributor takes legal action. The bright side is this is really terrific publicity - the ban has made international news and no doubt boosted the box office.

I have a lot of things to say about this movie - the first of which is how glad I am that it is in wide release. When "The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love" came out (pun intended) in 1995, I had to make an epic journey to the shabbiest of art-house cinemas in Baltimore (the Rotunda) rather than going to any of the five theatres in my crappy suburb. The rise of megaplexes and stadium seating makes it easier to show smaller films, even if the audience might be limited.

And "Brokeback" is probably one of the best movies I've seen in the past five years - a list than includes "History of Violence," "American History X," "Return of the King," and "American Beauty." The direction, acting, cinematography and production design are especially wonderful.

The casting is a delight, too – instead of going for some Lollipop-head-flavor-of-the-month, Anne Hathaway gets to act (!) and the generally-overlooked Linda Cardellini has a bit part that’s a bright, happy spot in an often dark movie. Oh, and Jack Twist’s mother makes “Citizen Kane’s” mother look as warm and snuggly as Florence Henderson.

Yes, it is a movie about two guys in love. Yes, I did roll my eyes a little bit when I heard the plot synopsis (was there, in fact, a cowboy as part of the Village People?). But it’s gripping, tender, surprising, and the kind of movie that stops you hours and days after you saw it, making you think about its plot, the sub-plots, and all the little details that distinguish thoroughly great movies (like Metropolis) from thoroughly entertaining movies (like Coyote Ugly).

I wonder if the danger Mr. Miller saw in this movie is that are there no easy answers (assuming he saw it at all, which is doubtful). For instance, what exactly are you supposed to do if you have two little kids, a crappy job, and figure out that your husband is sleeping with a guy? What are you supposed to do if the only place you ever wanted to live is a place where being yourself might get you killed?

Love, tolerance, the end of the Wild West. Aren’t these classically American themes? I hope so.

-Seventh Sister

P.S. While a number of critics have said that this is the first movie where Heath Ledger actually shows his acting chops, I don't think this is true. He has a bit part in "Monster's Ball" that just about steals the show. 

// posted by Anonymous

Dr. Strangelove said...

Thanks for the excellent post, 7th Sister! You are absolutely right that Brokeback Mountain is the kind of movie that really stays with you; I still keep thinking about it. As 7th Sister said, the acting, directing, and writing are all superb.

What I like most about the movie is that the movie does not tell you how to feel about what happens. The movie does not judge what the characters do, nor does it merely show reality in an unflinchingly stark way--as if to shock the audience--but instead the movie treats the characters with quiet compassion. As a result, you find yourself sympathizing with almost everyone and for what they are trying to do, even as you wince when they hurt each other. As 7th Sister says, sometimes there are no good answers.

At several points, an audience weaned on Hollywood pablum will expect the characters to act out certain cliches (eg., intercept correspondence to set up a conflict later, turn the car around and amend one's previous declaration, make a dramatic speech...), but these things do not happen. Instead, the camera slyly lingers on these situations for a moment, as if to underscore what does not occur. The movie is intelligent, aware, and often witty in subtle ways.

Finally, although Brokeback Mountain is not about gayness, the gay aspect of the story is not a gimmick. If you changed the sexes so all the relationships were straight, the story would fall apart. If you reversed the orientations of the relationships--making the gay ones straight and vice-versa--the story would not fully work either.

I hope you will all see it. It's definitely not a tearjerker. But bring kleenex.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen Brokeback Mountian and wasn't planning on it. But 7th Sister changed my mind. I will check it out.

7th Sisiter says, ""Casanova," a movie I'm sure shows plenty more of Heath Ledger than "Brokeback Mountain" does (Ledger plays Casanova). "

I saw it and it is relatively tame. It is more of a romantic comdey swashbuckler, so the nudity is limited. For the record, I enjoyed it. 

// posted by USWest

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