Saturday, January 21, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

I rarely get to watch movies because most movies made nowadays are crap and I just don't have the time to do so.What I do most of the time is read reviews and If what I read resonates with me I get hold of the dvd.Anyway people have been bubbling about 'brokeback mountain' so I got hold of a review.I do intend to read other reviews but this is what this review said about the movie.

Review by David Laza
Jan 4, 2006

Love story or tragedy, heart-rending or stomach-turning, Ang Lee’s gay cowboy epic Brokeback Mountain could do for Prozac prescriptions what Titanic did for life preservers.

As cinema, it showcases Lee’s trademark gusto for fine performances, dazzling cinematography, and intriguing, often weighty storylines.

As social commentary, however, it does less to advance the ball in the alternative lifestyle debate than advocates and media elites would like to believe.

Because at its root, Brokeback Mountain is a film less about the courage acolytes ascribe to it than about choices. And those choices are almost uniformly squandered throughout by central figures Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger).

The resulting melancholy with which many moviegoers will exit may have less to do with the plight of those chief characters than with the scrap heap of broken lives each leaves behind.

Beautifully shot, with the same eye for setting and mood as the clinically cold 1970s New England he depicted in Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm, Lee’s take on Anne Proulx’s short story captures both the breathtaking majesty and desolate loneliness of Wyoming’s Tetons.

And like the swinging, me-generation postmodernism of The Ice Storm, Brokeback takes on moral ambiguity, selfishness and infidelity in matter-of-fact, you-be-the-judge fashion. This is reality. It is what it is. And it’s up to the audience to decide whether it’s right or wrong.

Brokeback tells the story of Jack and Ennis, two presumably straight Marlboro Man types who fall in love during the summer of 1963 while tending sheep on the movie’s eponymous mass of rock – a love quickly consummated in a holster-your-popcorn, Rolaids-inducing sequence played out one cold night in a pup tent.

When the summer ends, and the job is over, the two must make a choice: try to make a go of it together and continue their relationship (which Jack wants), or bow to the inhospitable climate of that era and try to lead straight lives. They choose the latter, and to paraphrase Robert Frost, that makes all the difference.

Each marries and starts a family – Jack in Texas, Ennis in Wyoming. But their longing for one another can’t be abated and so begins a 20-plus-year affair, punctuated by long “fishing trips” on Brokeback during which (amazingly) no fish are actually caught. There’s little doubt these two men love each other. The way the pair ravenously attack one another in the parking lot of Ennis’s apartment complex after a four-year cool-down – while long-suffering wife Alma (Michelle Williams) helplessly watches through a window – conveys nothing less.

The fallout, of course, is calamitous. Ennis’s marriage ends in divorce, his kids are left fatherless, and he becomes an alcoholic, hopping from job to job and passing his days in a dilapidated single-wide trailer. Jack, meanwhile, takes on his demons by hiring male prostitutes and carrying on affairs with other men when he can’t see Ennis. His marriage somehow stays intact, but his life takes a similarly southbound spiral.

Depending on one’s outlook going in, Brokeback Mountain viewers are likely to leave with different impressions.

Those who laud it, like the Human Rights Campaign, which will give Lee its annual Equality Award next February, are calling it an eye-opener, with the power to change hearts and minds about the tenderness, and often pain, of the gay experience.

“Through his moving directorial work, Ang Lee proves the old adage, ‘Love is love is love,’” the gay rights group’s president Joe Solmonese said recently.

But is this the kind of love that should be celebrated? The kind of love that spawns infidelity, breaks up families, and creates almost suicidal depression?

Three years ago, gay filmmaker Todd Haynes took on a similar theme in his 1950s era Douglas Sirk send-up, Far From Heaven. In that film, long-closeted Dennis Quaid succumbs to his urges and leaves long-suffering wife Julianne Moore for another man. Advocates were almost nowhere to be found when that film was released, perhaps because Quaid’s character was implicitly shamed as a louse. Not for being gay, but for being dishonest from the outset and for ruining lives, for starting a family and ultimately sacrificing it for physical desire.

Man is inherently flawed. All of us have yearnings, demons, and temptations we struggle with each day. But our choices have consequences. It’s one’s ability to be honest with himself and others, how he chooses to act on those weaknesses and his ability to reason and control impulses, that helps define his character.

The challenges homosexuals face each day about coming out, creating lives for themselves, coming to terms, and fighting intolerance and escalating suicide rates are too important to be ignored or swept under a rug.

But Jack and Ennis are not heroes, nor are they courageous. They’re selfish. And at a time when Americans remain uneasy about issues of acceptance and gay marriage, Brokeback Mountain does not advance discussion the way films like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? and Gentleman’s Agreement did two and three generations ago, when it came to the shame of racism and anti-Semitism.

Instead, it risks trivializing and leaves questions. Questions about whether these two men would have led the kind of lives they did had they never met; about whether much of the hurt they caused could have been avoided had they chosen the other path.

And about whether viewers will be moved to sympathize, or to hit their nearest pharmacy.


At 1/24/2006 12:54:00 PM, Blogger Irena said...

I want to watch it so badly , haven't yet. Did you hear a reporter asked George Bush if he has watched it:-)

At 1/24/2006 05:08:00 PM, Blogger Mignon said...

like irena above, i really wanna watch this movie. after watching munich and syriana, however, i don't think i can handle any more melancholic moments at the movies for awhile. i heard the reporter ask Bush that question and the response was a classic, the usual stuttering, muttering and finally giving up and saying "no"

At 1/25/2006 08:07:00 AM, Blogger Instigator said...

@ Irena
I am still debating whether to see it or not.Didnt that reporter know he was wasting his time.
@ cute_angel
Bush gave a blustering answer when he was asked about the cut to higher education and how it will affect America.That man is so dense that light bends round him!


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