Film and TV

A Brokeback Mountain Update


There's so much press right now on Brokeback it's almost impossible to keep up with. Thanks to everyone who has sent me items. Here's your morning cup of cowboy coffee:

road.jpg A new report on the Wyoming screening, where feelings for the movie were very positive and emotions were running high.

road.jpg The Washington Post announces that Gay Moviegoers Tip Their Hats to a Love Story> and talks about the "herd mentality" that seems to have greeted the arrival of Brokeback among gay moviegoers.

road.jpg Big article in the L.A. Times today that asks the next logical question in the Brokeback saga. Will audiences come?

The conservative family groups are predicting the film's demise because of lack of interest. Predicts one conservative: "'Brokeback' will not only encounter resistance, but empty theaters. My wife and I watched the trailer in a theater a few days ago and sensed an audible revulsion to two men passionately embracing and kissing on the big screen." However, the Times presents evidence that in regional markets like Tennessee and rural Texas, interest for the film is running high. A theater outside Plano, Texas, where it will open on two screens this Friday, has sold more pre-opening tickets online for Brokeback than for King Kong.

road.jpg The Seattle Times asks the same question: . An interesting side note in their story, which retells the journey of Brokeback from page to screen, is that author Annie Proulx was actually called as a juror in the Matthew Shepard trial but didn't serve. The story was actually written before that tragedy but seems "prescient" in light of it.

road.jpg The Boston Herald asks, "Have the Golden Globes Gone Gay?" Why, in fact it seems they have always been pretty gay.

road.jpg I have neglected to mention that The San Francisco Film Critics have awarded Brokeback best honors as well.

Brokebackhankiejpgroad.jpg The sexy Brenner Thomas offers up a great piece on a Brokeback promotional handkerchief he received. Betcha can't remember what the hanky code for "navy" is...

road.jpg Here's a few days old news piece from FOX about how the wingnuts are all in a tizzy that the film doesn't have an NC-17 rating because it has gay themes. You know, they may be afraid people might actually go and see how much pain repression and bigotry put on people's lives. James Schamus, Focus Features' co-president said “We assumed it would be R; it was R. It was totally fair. It’s an adult, grown-up movie. It’s a movie I think young people could see or should see in the context of their parents talking to them about it. That’s an R rating to me.”

road.jpg And here's some interesting insight into the voting behind the New York Critics Circle awards earlier this week where it seems there was a battle royale between Brokeback and The History of Violence. Outward civility prevailed, and eventually, so did Brokeback, by 4 votes.


road.jpg Blog The Bloody Red Carpet gives it a thorough once-over and has "disparate feelings" about the love affair: "One, we just loved seeing the boys rustle up some cowbooty and swap spit, and two, we hated feeling that they were justified in hiding their love. We had to step back and realize that yes, indeed this was a period piece – sadly with some present day equivalents, but still and all not indicative of a modern gay lifestyle. Rural Wyoming was probably not a safe haven for the gays in the mid 1960s. And ultimately, this film isn’t about the right to self expression, it’s about the inability for some men to express themselves at all."

Brokeback_still_4road.jpg From Black Table: "The largely gay audience I was with at first seemed to expect (or hope) that Brokeback Mountain would parody the rugged machismo of the Western genre by exposing the buried homoeroticism underneath. (It was as if some patrons saw Brokeback as a means to get revenge on that most manly -- and straight -- of genres.) But Lee doesn't see his homosexual lovers as revolutionaries or gay-right liberators or anything so grandiose, and he isn't here to reinvent genre clichés. In truth, Brokeback Mountain returns to the same thematic terrain as The Ice Storm -- the complete and utter unhappiness that is the modern world."

road.jpg From The Simon: "In Brokeback Mountain, everyone suffers because of manly western myths, and no one suffers more acutely than Ennis. Yes, antihero Jack does meet one of the time-honored antihero ends at the hands of the vile side of civilization that simply cannot abide his “natural” identity. But our hero Ennis, our upstanding frontier man who stays close to the land but resists nature’s temptations, and who wants—but mostly fails—to do right by his adoring daughters has an arguably more painful fate (and Ledger makes you feel that pain).

road.jpg Still, Brokeback isn't making everyone happy, including gay blogger Joe.My.God. who is angry that "fake gays" are playing gays: "Unlike many others, I'm not dying to see two fake gays playing "straight guys who fall in love", especially after enduring unending soundbites of these fake gays reassuring worried America that they do indeed enjoy poontang in real life. I resent that what may turn out the be the best critically received gay love movie ever, has no gay actors in it. I resent that if two gay actors had been cast, this movie would have zero visibility, regardless of its merit. I resent that America will only come to watch fake gays making fake love and I resent that casting the fake gays was the right business decision to make. And I resent that this is how it probably always will be."

Queerty responds: "In a perfect world we’d like to see more gay actors playing gay parts. But sadly there are not many gay actors we can think of to choose from. And Tom Cruise is just way too old for this film. Actors do just that, act. We would not want gay actors to be limited to play only gay roles. So why would we want to limit straight actors to only play straight.

The Towleroad Guide to Brokeback Mountain.

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  1. I commented on Joe's blog about this too. Joe's silly and the whole I want "gay actors" is a pretty hypocritical line to take. Who the hell complains when a gay person plays a straight character? Is the director, someone with a lot more influence on what shows up on the screen, gay? No one seems to care about that. So why care so much about the actors sex lives? I'm sure Joe has never complained about all the "straight" actors in porn. Will we next hear complaints from cowboys that niether Heath nor Jake were recruited from rodeos and sheephearders?

    It's called acting, you know pretending you are someone you are not. All the acting in Brokeback looks to be excellent. This isn't a documentary and it isn't a political statement. It's story.

    Posted by: e | Dec 14, 2005 10:31:58 AM

  2. Andy,

    Your coverage of this film has been nothing short of brilliant. Thanks so much for all your hard work. I must add your link to my blogroll.


    Posted by: Tony R | Dec 14, 2005 10:36:02 AM

  3. debating actors not gay in brokeback is about as nit-picky as debate as to why it wasn't filmed in america...

    Posted by: A.J. | Dec 14, 2005 10:36:04 AM

  4. Andy,

    Thank you so much for your coverage of this movie.

    I've seen this movie twice in the last three days, and I can't remember being so profoundly moved since I saw Torch Song Trilogy in the '80's.

    It's a brilliant movie.

    While I can understand Joe.My.God's position and in general, share it, I think the depth these two actors brought to these roles trumps those objections. If they hadn't done such brilliant work, it would have been much more of an effective argument. Overall, though, I wish more gay actors were playing more gay roles, but when an actor brings to the screen what Heath Ledger brings in Brokeback, all I can do is sit back and admire his brilliance.


    Posted by: Travis | Dec 14, 2005 11:29:29 AM

  5. Why are conservatives so worked up about the "gay content" of THIS film. Rent has been playing EVERYWHERE for weeks and the world hasn't ended.

    Posted by: Joe | Dec 14, 2005 12:48:37 PM

  6. Well, theer actually is more hetero sex in BBM than man on man action. Even unmarried straight people having sex in a car! Anyway, here's a quote from the L.A. Weekly review that I like. Ennis Del Mar reminded me that we live in a hell of our own making. "What deepens the tragedy of Jack and Ennis is that the obstacles to their love are only partly cultural. The romantic lesson of Brokeback Mountain, as in Walk the Line and countless Woody Allen movies, is that the heart wants what it wants, and should have it regardless. You can argue with that, and I suspect that Ang Lee, whose subject has often been the saving pragmatism of family and friends, has his qualms. But there’s no arguing with the ashen, collapsed features of the man left behind with only a bloody shirt, a picture post card of his beloved Brokeback Mountain and the terrible knowledge that he never wanted what he wanted enough to pay the price of getting it.

    Posted by: busytimmy | Dec 14, 2005 12:51:40 PM

  7. I heartily agree with the above reviewer's quote in BusyTimmy's post - except I would make one small, but incredibly important change. My interpretation would read "...(Ennis is left with) the terrible knowledge the he WAS NEVER BRAVE ENOUGH TO TAKE WHAT HE WANTED AND RISK PAYING the price of getting it."

    I have read and re-read the short story many times over the last two years since I discovered it - and I truly believe that Ennis wanted Jack completely - but his fear was crippling, and in the end his fears became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Beyond sad.

    I cannot wait to see this movie. I'm seeing it on Friday when it opens here in Chicago and I'm sure I won't stop crying until the following Tuesday.

    Posted by: Anna | Dec 14, 2005 1:59:38 PM

  8. I think Anna's comment (above) is correct, but it's also indicative of how the dialogue within our community has changed over the years. Try to keep your assessment of the decisions that the characters made in the context of the time in which the story takes place. Back in the 60s, especially in rural areas like Wyoming, if a gay person wanted not only to live openly but also had the audacity to want to fall in love and be loved in return, they ran the risk of losing much more than they do now. That's one of the victories of our political struggle, the fact that even in rural areas where the dangers of living openly and honestly are still very real, the risks just aren't as ominous as they were 40 years ago. So while Ennis certainly was too afraid to take what he wanted, his fear at that time was probably more justified than it would be in most places today (there are of course some reasonable exceptions to this statement). I think it makes it even more of a tragic story, knowing that had Ennis been born just a few decades later he would have stood more of a chance of having the love he so desperately dreamed of.

    Posted by: Brian | Dec 14, 2005 2:42:08 PM

  9. There is an interview with Ang Lee on BBC Radio 4's Front Row. Here is the link (it will only last for 24 hrs by the way)

    Posted by: Matt | Dec 14, 2005 3:17:39 PM

  10. Conservatives don't care about RENT because apparently no one is going to see it! It has made under $30M last I checked and didn't even get a nod for best musical/comedy for the globes. I didn't think it was bad at all personally. I was honestly eager to see if RENT would beat The Producers for best musical/comedy. I guess I know now LOL.

    As for the fake gays, I do think it's a bit annoying how adamant they have been off screen preserving their sexuality, especially when they talked about intimacy scenes or whatnot, but I think it might become the new trend that actors WANT to play gay.

    Posted by: Britt | Dec 14, 2005 4:13:37 PM

  11. so where can i download the bittorrent for this movie?

    Posted by: kuros | Dec 14, 2005 4:25:39 PM

  12. As for "fake gays," what about "fake cowboys?" Or "fake Wyoming?" (The movie was filmed in Canada) What matters is whether the illusion holds together and lives on in the mind as a kind of truth, Whether it is respectful to what it depicts. And Brokeback mountain is both of those things. Ennis and Jack are gay, so who cares about Heath and Jake?

    And the hanky code for navy blue: "anal sex" according to wikipedia. Fitting.

    Posted by: Evan | Dec 14, 2005 5:16:35 PM

  13. LOL I know my hanky code

    blue is fuckee/ fucker...right /left

    not that my virginal self has ever experienced such


    Posted by: Jimmy | Dec 14, 2005 5:27:33 PM

  14. >>"fake gays" are playing gays.

    It wasn't that long ago that white actors in black-face were portraying black people on stage, and in movies, because black people couldn't get hired for acting jobs.

    What changed? First, the acting community saw the injustice, and began to lobby their own industry for change. Then, a few brave producers insisted on using black actors, even if a few local distributors and theatre owners objected. Finally, the audiences demanded to see shows that were banned because they featured black actors.

    It's true, the first black actors were limied to the roles of stooges, dancers and musicans, but they finally got parts. The first Gay roles in Hollywood were pretty much the same. Until very recently, all Gays were presented as drag queens, drunks, and oversexed fools.

    The evolution of the Gay actor is happening much the same way. No one doubts that there are plenty of Gay actors, but the number of Gay actors who want to be openly Gay is about the same as the number of Gay policemen who want to be openly Gay. Society has to change a little more before we can see those changes reflected in Hollywood.

    In the meantime, I'm greatful to those brave actors who accept and play Gay roles, whether or not they are Gay themselves. It's not a perfect world, but then, in a perfect world, it wouldn't matter if a Gay actor played Straight, or a Straight actor played Gay.

    After all, it's not really acting if you are only being yourself.

    Posted by: Jay Croce | Dec 14, 2005 7:39:48 PM

  15. Andy, we LOVE you. Thank you for your devotion to this movie and your ever-present updates. Without you, many of us would never find the articles and pieces you post daily.

    Posted by: Jamie | Dec 15, 2005 12:41:57 AM

  16. Isn't he amazing???? We all looooooooove our Andy!!

    Posted by: gabe | Dec 15, 2005 12:27:37 PM

  17.'s 'fake gay' post is a bit harsh, but not unfounded. while i still plan to see the film, expect to enjoy it immensely, and expect to cry my eyes out - i can't say i'm not perturbed by the conspicuous lack of gay involvement in the telling of this story: from annie proulx, to larry mcmurtry, to ang lee, to the professingly straight stars, i just have to wonder: why did it take an all straight group of people to tell 'our' story?

    but it's probably this fact that has given the film so much visibility (aside from it clearly just being a good film) - it represents acceptance, and even responsibility on behalf of the straight world, which is maybe what -truly- bothers the right wingers. it's no longer gay people telling gay stories and keeping to themselves; they now must face the fact that the rest of the world seems to care about what happens to us as well. how shocking.

    Posted by: Joe | Dec 15, 2005 12:42:00 PM

  18. My view is that it does not matter that straight actors are playing gay characters - I think the main point people should be focussing on is that there is a mainstream film which heavily displays homosexuality in a good light - there can never be enough of these, and from what I have seen of it, it is a beautiful story which is told even more beautifully in film by Ang Lee. I have nothing but praise for the ideas and the courage of all those taking part, and the only thing I have left to say is where in the heck can I download the whole movie? :)

    Posted by: Clo | Dec 24, 2005 12:06:19 PM

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