Author Topic: Reviews - Magazines  (Read 13529 times)

Offline ranchgal

  • Lureen
  • ***
  • Posts: 120
Reviews - Magazines
« on: Dec 21, 2005, 08:41 PM »
the Dec.25 EW has BBM rated with an A- overall average rating.
NONE of its feature critics rated it below B+
 and most importantly--the EW readers rated it A-
7 gave A
1 gave A-
3 gave B+

IF the readers are rating it that strong---that sends a big message.

IT also lists BBM as #10 on its MUST SEE LIST of this episode.
"Brimming with stellar performances, the new century's first great cinematic love story upends convention and stereotype."

Narnia( overal)l B
Harry Potter  B+
King Kong  B+
Geisha       C+
Pride & Prejudice B+
Rent    C+
Syraian      B+
Walk the Line  B
« Last Edit: Jan 12, 2006, 02:24 PM by brokebackmountain »

Offline *Froggy*

  • Jack + Ennis
  • *
  • Posts: 10977
  • Gender: Female
  • No longer using this account: frog123
Reviews - Magazines
« Reply #1 on: Dec 27, 2005, 03:17 PM »
This has to be my favourite BBM review...let me know wgat u think?  ;)x

http://www.newyorker.com/critics/cinema/articles/051212crci_cinema

NEW FRONTIERS
“Brokeback Mountain” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
by ANTHONY LANE
Issue of 2005-12-12
Posted 2005-12-05

The new Ang Lee film, “Brokeback Mountain,” is a love story that starts in 1963 and never ends. The first scene is a master class in the dusty and the taciturn, with gusts of wind doing all the talking. A cowboy stands against a wall in Signal, Wyoming, his hat tipped down as if he were falling asleep. Another fellow, barely more than a kid, turns up in a coughing old truck and joins the waiting game; both are in search of a job. There is something wired and wary in their silence, and the entire passage can be read not only as an echo of “Once Upon a Time in the West,” whose opening hummed with a similar suspense, but also as an unimaginable change of tune. Sergio Leone’s men were waiting for a train; these boys are falling in love.

At last, we learn their names: Ennis del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal). Both are hired for the summer, to tend the flocks on Brokeback Mountain, and that is where we follow them for the first, idyllic act of their story. This is the most gorgeous part of the movie, and the least successful, partly because an idyll is less an event than a state of being. Lee wants to suggest the savoring of time, yet the camera tends to alight on ravishing formations of rock and cloud, grab them, and then move on, as if we were shuffling through a pile of photographs. (Does any director still have the patience to let our gaze rest without skittering upon the Western landscape?) On the other hand, you could argue that such transience sets the tone—at once wondrous and fleeting—for the rest of the movie, and that, if Ennis and Jack have fashioned a rough and rainy Eden for themselves, it is a paradise waiting to be lost.

One evening, a drunken Ennis shares Jack’s tent, and, in the heat of a cold night, there is a breathy, wordless unbuckling of belts. Rumor had it that “Brokeback Mountain” was an explicit piece of work, and I was surprised by its tameness, although Lee’s helplessly good taste, which has proved both a gift and a curb, was always going to lure him away from sweating limbs and toward the coupling of souls. Not once do our heroes mention the word love, nor does any shame or harshness attach to their desire. Indeed, what will vex some viewers is not the act of sodomy but the suggestion that Ennis and Jack are possessed of an innocence, a virginity of spirit, that the rest of society (which literally exists on a lower plane, below the mountain) will strive to violate and subdue. If the lovers hug their secret to themselves, that is because they fear for its survival:

“This is a one-shot thing we got going on here.”
“Nobody’s business but ours.”
“You know I ain’t queer.”
“Me neither.”

American Rousseauism, with its worship of open plains and its dread of civic constraint, is nothing new. The erotic strain of it that unfurls in “Brokeback Mountain” may seem unprecedented, although, considering that womanless men, bedecked in denim, rivets, and distressed leather, have been pitching camp in the wilderness since movies began, it doesn’t take much of a nudge for the subtext to rise to the surface. There is little in Lee’s film that would have rattled the spurs of Montgomery Clift in “Red River.”

“Brokeback Mountain,” which began as an Annie Proulx story in these pages, comes fully alive as the chance for happiness dies. Its beauty wells from its sorrow, because the love between Ennis and Jack is most credible not in the making but in the thwarting. Duty calls; they go their separate ways, get married—one in Texas, one in Wyoming—and raise children. Ennis weds Alma (Michelle Williams), while Jack’s wife is a rodeo rider named Lureen (Anne Hathaway), whose knowing wink, from the saddle, is the most brazen come-on in the film. After four years, the two men—as they now are—hook up again, and from then on they meet when they can. The most crushing moment comes as Alma glances from the doorway and catches her husband kissing his friend, in a rage of need that she has never seen before. In their frustration, the men are spreading ripples of pain to others, and the others are women and children. The female of the species (think of Lee’s previous heroines, like Joan Allen in “The Ice Storm” or Jennifer Connelly in “Hulk”) suffers no less than the male, but she struggles to escape the suffering, whereas the male swelters inside his strange cocoon. That’s why, when Jack and Ennis part at the end of the first summer, Ennis slips into an alleyway, retches, and punches a wall—as if the only option, for the unrequited, were to waylay one’s own heart and beat it senseless.

In the end, this is Heath Ledger’s picture. There is no mistaking Jake Gyllenhaal’s finesse (look for the wonderful scene in which he can’t look—his jaw tightening as Ennis, still just a friend, strips to wash, just past the corner of his eye), but it is Ledger who bears the yoke of the movie’s sadness. His voice is a mumble and a rumble, not because he is dumb but because he hopes that, by swallowing his words, he can swallow his feelings, too. In his mixing of the rugged and the maladroit, he makes you realize that “Brokeback Mountain” is no more a cowboy film than “The Last Picture Show.” (Both screenplays were written by Larry McMurtry, the earlier in collaboration with Peter Bogdanovich, this one with Diana Ossana.) Each is an elegy for tamped-down lives, with an eye for vanishing brightness of which Jean Renoir would have approved, and you should get ready to crumple at “Brokeback Mountain” ’s final shot: Ennis alone in a trailer, looking at a postcard of Brokeback Mountain and fingering the relics of his time there, with a field of green corn visible, yet somehow unreachable, through the window. This slow and stoic movie, hailed as a gay Western, feels neither gay nor especially Western: it is a study of love under siege. As Ennis says, “If you can’t fix it, Jack, you gotta stand it.”

It was only a matter of time before a major studio got its talons into C. S. Lewis. The one thing delaying any attempt to film his Narnia novels was the lack of technology; until recently, for example, there was no computer-imaging program powerful enough to re-create a wholly convincing wardrobe. That obstacle has now been surmounted, and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” is upon us. The leap of the story is unchanged: the Pevensie children, Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and Lucy (Georgie Henley), are evacuated from London during the Blitz and dumped in a pile of old chestnuts: the creaky country house, the shrewish housekeeper, the twinkling professor who knows all.

And so to the conceit that, for decades, has stirred both the souls of the faithful and the loins of professional Freudians: first Lucy, then Edmund, then all four children feel their way uncertainly through the folds of a deep, furry passage and into another world. Welcome to Narnia, temporarily under the icy thumb of the White Witch (Tilda Swinton). Its true governor is a lion named Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson), who has taken an extended vacation, and who will not return, tan and relaxed, until the Pevensies show up.

There was much wrangling, ahead of the film’s release, about the spiritual intentions of its director, Andrew Adamson—not a question that arose, really, when he delivered “Shrek 2.” As every parent knows, there is a large Christian allegory sitting bang in the middle of Lewis’s tale, roughly as hard to spot as a rhino in a phone booth. Whether the film indulges or dishonors it, however, is beside the point; the problem with any allegorical plan, Christian or otherwise, is not its ideological content but the blockish threat that it poses to the flow of a story. That is why the latter half of Adamson’s film seizes up with a kind of enforced pageantry, and why even the climactic fight between Peter’s army of truth and the Witch’s bevy of demons has an air of heraldic artifice, as if we were witnessing not a brawl to the death, red in tooth and claw, but an enamelled clash of ideas.

Lewis lovers must squabble among themselves. I cannot join the party, having missed out on Narnia as a child. I was busy elsewhere, up to my armpits in hobbits, and starting to ask hard questions about the sexual longevity of elves. When, as a grownup, I finally opened “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” it struck me as woefully thin soil, with none of the gnarled roots of lore and language on which Tolkien thrived. If the movie has to forgo Lewis’s narrative tone, with its grimly Oxonian blend of the bluff and the twee (“And now we come to one of the nastiest things in this story”), that is fine by me. And, if there is Deep Magic, as Lewis called it, in his tale, it resides not in the springlike coming of Aslan but in the dreamlike, compacted poetry of Lewis’s initial inspiration—the sight of a faun, in the snow, bearing parcels and an umbrella. That is kept mercifully intact in Adamson’s movie, its potency enriched by the shy, unstrenuous rapport of his two best performers: Georgie Henley, as Lucy, and James McAvoy, as Mr. Tumnus the faun. The dark joke is that Mr. Tumnus invites Lucy to tea only because he must turn his guest over to the enemy. Thus does Lucy, over toast and honey, learn the lesson known to the heroine of every horror flick: Don’t answer the faun.
« Last Edit: Dec 28, 2005, 05:05 PM by frog123 »
Support bacteria, they are the only culture some people have!


If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he, and I was I.
~ Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592) ~ (Thankx to gimmejack)

Offline *Froggy*

  • Jack + Ennis
  • *
  • Posts: 10977
  • Gender: Female
  • No longer using this account: frog123
New "Salt Lake City Weekly" review...a must read
« Reply #2 on: Dec 28, 2005, 06:51 PM »
Just found this in another board...

http://www.slweekly.com/editorial/2005/cinema_1_2005-12-29.cfm


Love Story: The remarkable Brokeback Mountain explores emotional connection without boundaries.
by Scott Renshaw


BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

Because this is America—and apparently we will lose our citizenship unless we pay way too much attention to erogenous zones—all focus on Brokeback Mountain has involved the fact that two men have sex. And not just men, but men in boots and Stetsons—which is even more alarming, because if we can’t identify them by their catty bon mots, CD collections and impeccable fashion sense, then how will we know whom to shun?

Those same men also kiss in Brokeback Mountain, yet it’s curious that you don’t hear quite so much reference to the nonsexual expressions of emotion. It’s infuriating to watch this staggeringly beautiful film reduced to who places a penis where, because that is so clearly what it is not about. It’s simply a love story—only the love in this story can’t possibly be simple.

That’s because it does involve two men: Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), two cowboys looking for work in Wyoming in 1963. They take on the task of minding a grazing sheep herd in the high country together over the summer, slowly opening up to one another in the isolation of the titular mountain. And on one drunken night, their friendship turns into a consummation.

The 45 minutes that Brokeback Mountain spends on Brokeback Mountain are easily the finest chunk of American filmmaking from 2005—though they weren’t guided by an American filmmaker. Director Ang Lee provides plenty of magnificent vistas through the cinematography of Rodrigo Prieto, but he’s interested in much more than the scenery. He takes Annie Proulx’s short story and extracts every detail, watching two lonely souls each find real connection to another human being for the first time in their lives. Gyllenhaal is sharp as the more experienced Jack, but Ledger is nothing less than spectacular. Muttering every word as though it physically pains Ennis to express himself, Ledger delivers a performance that drives every frame of the film, even the ones he’s not in.

He’s not in quite a few frames as the story takes a more episodic turn over the final 90 minutes. The narrative follows Jack and Ennis individually over nearly 20 years as they both get married—to Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams, respectively—yet still get together for occasional mountain “fishing trips” to continue their relationship. While the film can’t possibly match the force of its opening stretch, it’s here that Lee and screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana are able to unravel how Jack and Ennis see themselves—and each other—throughout their lives. Both men find themselves occasionally lashing out when they feel their masculinity threatened—Ennis by two loudmouths at a Fourth of July fireworks display, Jack by his domineering father-in-law at Thanksgiving dinner. And both men know they need to be defined by the way they provide for their families.

What they don’t know is how to define what they are to each other. The one word that runs throughout the years when they communicate with each other—the most intimate description they can think of for their connection—is “friend.” Homosexuality in Brokeback Mountain isn’t just “the love that dare not speak its name”; for these two people, what they feel doesn’t even have a name. On a certain level, the film becomes not just about a world that won’t let two men be gay lovers, but about a world where any genuinely emotional connection between two men—even a celibate one—would somehow be just as impossible.

It’s not celibate in this case, of course, although Jack and Ennis’ first night together is the only time we actually see them together sexually. And it might be one of the most furiously raw sex scenes ever committed to film, a combination of desire, confusion and anger that erupts into something unexplainable. It’s going to make some people uncomfortable to face the, er, mechanics of anal intercourse, and that’s probably going to scare away plenty of the people for whom Brokeback Mountain—a masterpiece as quiet and powerful as Ennis Del Mar himself—might be a revelation. They’ll miss the longing in the passionate kiss when Jack and Ennis reunite, and miss the whole point of how tragic a life could be separated from the connection that makes you whole.


« Last Edit: Apr 22, 2006, 12:15 AM by ethan »
Support bacteria, they are the only culture some people have!


If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he, and I was I.
~ Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592) ~ (Thankx to gimmejack)

Offline *Froggy*

  • Jack + Ennis
  • *
  • Posts: 10977
  • Gender: Female
  • No longer using this account: frog123
Re: New "Salt Lake City Weekly" review...a must read
« Reply #3 on: Dec 28, 2005, 06:52 PM »
And not just men, but men in boots and Stetsons—which is even more alarming, because if we can’t identify them by their catty bon mots, CD collections and impeccable fashion sense, then how will we know whom to shun?

Hahahaha!
Support bacteria, they are the only culture some people have!


If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he, and I was I.
~ Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592) ~ (Thankx to gimmejack)

Offline brokebackmountain

  • Brokebackmountain is now "ethan"
  • Administrator
  • Jack
  • ***
  • Posts: 762
  • Gender: Male
Article from New York Observer
« Reply #4 on: Dec 30, 2005, 01:43 AM »
Chokeback Mountain
It's a weeper, girls! The newest gay love story is also the oldest straight one. So why does Heath Ledger find it so mysterious?

By: Choire Sicha
Date: 11/21/2005
Page: 15

http://www.observer.com/printpage.asp?iid=11886&ic=Observatory


Kinda old but an interesting article in New York Observer
Born from their love..forever bound by ours.

Offline *Froggy*

  • Jack + Ennis
  • *
  • Posts: 10977
  • Gender: Female
  • No longer using this account: frog123
Re: Article from New York Observer
« Reply #5 on: Dec 30, 2005, 08:44 PM »
That's a great review...a rather long one, and the author is not taking any gloves either!

Quote
In Japan, a fascination by women readers with gay male fiction morphed into a whole genre of female-consumed manga books, called yaoi, which all feature man-on-man love interests. Or check out African-American women reading the serious gay sex scenes in E. Lynn Harris books on the subway. It is directly from these margins that Brokeback Mountain mines, which makes it official: Brokeback Mountain declares that boy-on-boy is the new girl-on-girl.

Wow...!

 
Quote
But even these intrepid fellows (Ang Lee and Larry McMurtry) fall short of the strength of their characters. The event that serves as the wrenching climax of the movie is withheld from the viewer. In a movie where the camera is perfectly omniscient, the scene that sends the movie down to its darkest depths is vague, gauzy and wide open to interpretation. It’s almost as if they just didn’t have the balls to make the kinds of hard choices that their gay cowboys would have. Still, it’s because of the Arctic chill that surrounds them, like that of a night alone in the wilds, that they let all this softness come flowing out.

Humm...not sure what she means
Support bacteria, they are the only culture some people have!


If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he, and I was I.
~ Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592) ~ (Thankx to gimmejack)

Offline natalia

  • Alma
  • ****
  • Posts: 295
  • Gender: Female
Amazon.com Rating
« Reply #6 on: Jan 01, 2006, 01:59 PM »
Give me your hand
And take what you will tonight, I'll give it as fast
And high as the flame will rise
Cinder and smoke
Some whispers around the trees
The juniper bends
As if you were listening

Offline *Froggy*

  • Jack + Ennis
  • *
  • Posts: 10977
  • Gender: Female
  • No longer using this account: frog123
« Last Edit: Apr 22, 2006, 12:16 AM by ethan »
Support bacteria, they are the only culture some people have!


If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he, and I was I.
~ Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592) ~ (Thankx to gimmejack)

Offline sweetlilg

  • "Jack, I swear..."
  • Ennis
  • ******
  • Posts: 1481
  • Gender: Female
  • Could be like this.. just like this - ALWAYS!
Re: Amazon.com Rating
« Reply #8 on: Jan 01, 2006, 03:47 PM »
GREAT!!! thank u guys!  :D
"Sometimes I miss you SO MUCH I can hardly stand it" - Jack <3

RIP Heath ♥ Heath, I swear...

BrokeBack Mountain is the BEST! It has won the Oscar of my heart!

Offline bnjmn3

  • Jack
  • *****
  • Posts: 555
  • Gender: Male
  • BBM: The Best Picture Show
Re: Reviews - Magazines
« Reply #9 on: Feb 06, 2006, 11:35 AM »
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18712

An Affair to Remember
By Daniel Mendelsohn
Brokeback Mountain
a film directed by Ang Lee, based on the story by E. Annie Proulx
Brokeback Mountain—the highly praised new movie as well as the short story by Annie Proulx on which the picture is faithfully based—is a tale about two homosexual men. Two gay men. To some people it will seem strange to say this; to some other people, it will seem strange to have to say it. Strange to say it, because the story is, as everyone now knows, about two young Wyoming ranch hands who fall in love as teenagers in 1963 and continue their tortured affair, furtively, over the next twenty years. And as everyone also knows, when most people hear the words "two homosexual men" or "gay," the image that comes to mind is not likely to be one of rugged young cowboys who shoot elk and ride broncos for fun.

Two homosexual men: it is strange to have to say it just now because the distinct emphasis of so much that has been said about the movie—in commercial advertising as well as in the adulatory reviews—has been that the story told in Brokeback Mountain is not, in fact, a gay story, but a sweeping romantic epic with "universal" appeal. The lengths to which reviewers from all over the country, representing publications of various ideological shadings, have gone in order to diminish the specifically gay element is striking, as a random sampling of the reviews collected on the film's official Web site makes clear. The Wall Street Journal's critic asserted that "love stories come and go, but this one stays with you—not because both lovers are men, but because their story is so full of life and longing, and true romance." The Los Angeles Times declared the film to be

a deeply felt, emotional love story that deals with the uncharted, mysterious ways of the human heart just as so many mainstream films have before it. The two lovers here just happen to be men.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Indeed, a month after the movie's release most of the reviews were resisting, indignantly, the popular tendency to refer to it as "the gay cowboy movie." "It is much more than that glib description implies," the critic of the Minneapolis Star Tribune sniffed. "This is a human story." This particular rhetorical emphasis figures prominently in the advertising for the film, which in quoting such passages reflects the producer's understandable desire that Brokeback Mountain not be seen as something for a "niche" market but as a story with broad appeal, whatever the particulars of its time, place, and personalities. (The words "gay" and "homosexual" are never used of the film's two main characters in the forty-nine-page press kit distributed by the filmmakers to critics.) "One movie is connecting with the heart of America," one of the current print ad campaigns declares; the ad shows the star Heath Ledger, without his costar, grinning in a cowboy hat. A television ad that ran immediately after the Golden Globe awards a few weeks ago showed clips of the male leads embracing their wives, but not each other.

The reluctance to be explicit about the film's themes and content was evident at the Golden Globes, where the film took the major awards—for best movie drama, best director, and best screenplay. When a short montage of clips from the film was screened, it was described as "a story of monumental conflict"; later, the actor reading the names of nominees for best actor in a movie drama described Heath Ledger's character as "a cowboy caught up in a complicated love." After Ang Lee received the award he was quoted as saying, "This is a universal story. I just wanted to make a love story."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Because I am as admiring as almost everyone else of the film's many excellences, it seems to me necessary to counter this special emphasis in the way the film is being promoted and received. For to see Brokeback Mountain as a love story, or even as a film about universal human emotions, is to misconstrue it very seriously—and in so doing inevitably to diminish its real achievement.

Both narratively and visually, Brokeback Mountain is a tragedy about the specifically gay phenomenon of the "closet"—about the disastrous emotional and moral consequences of erotic self-repression and of the social intolerance that first causes and then exacerbates it. What love story there is occurs early on in the film, and briefly: a summer's idyll herding sheep on a Wyoming mountain, during which two lonely youths, taciturn Ennis and high-spirited Jack, fall into bed, and then in love, with each other. The sole visual representation of their happiness in love is a single brief shot of the two shirtless youths horsing around in the grass. That shot is eerily—and significantly—silent, voiceless: it turns out that what we are seeing is what the boys' boss is seeing through his binoculars as he spies on them.

After that—because their love for each other can't be fitted into the lives they think they must lead—misery pursues and finally destroys the two men and everyone with whom they come in contact with the relentless thoroughness you associate with Greek tragedy. By the end of the drama, indeed, whole families have been laid waste. Ennis's marriage to a conventional, sweet-natured girl disintegrates, savaging her simple illusions and spoiling the home life of his two daughters; Jack's nervy young wife, Lureen, devolves into a brittle shrew, her increasingly elaborate and artificial hairstyles serving as a visual marker of the ever-growing mendacity that underlies the couple's relationship. Even an appealing young waitress, with whom Ennis after his divorce has a flirtation (an episode much amplified from a bare mention in the original story), is made miserable by her brief contact with a man who is as enigmatic to himself as he is to her. If Jack and Ennis are tainted, it's not because they're gay, but because they pretend not to be; it's the lie that poisons everyone they touch.

As for Jack and Ennis themselves, the brief and infrequent vacations that they are able to take together as the years pass—"fishing trips" on which, as Ennis's wife points out, still choking on her bitterness years after their marriage fails, no fish were ever caught— are haunted, increasingly, by the specter of the happier life they might have had, had they been able to live together. Their final vacation together (before Jack is beaten to death in what is clearly represented, in a flashback, as a roadside gay-bashing incident) is poisoned by mutual recriminations. "I wish I knew how to quit you," the now nearly middle-aged Jack tearfully cries out, humiliated by years of having to seek sexual solace in the arms of Mexican hustlers. "It's because of you that I'm like this—nothing, nobody," the dirt-poor Ennis sobs as he collapses in the dust. What Ennis means, of course, is that he's "nothing" because loving Jack has forced him to be aware of real passion that has no outlet, aware of a sexual nature that he cannot ignore but which neither his background nor his circumstances have equipped him to make part of his life. Again and again over the years, he rebuffs Jack's offers to try living together and running "a little cow and calf operation" somewhere, hobbled by his inability even to imagine what a life of happiness might look like.

One reason he can't bring himself to envision such a life with his lover is a grisly childhood memory, presented in flashback, of being taken at the age of eight by his father to see the body of a gay rancher who'd been tortured and beaten to death—a scene that prefigures the scene of Jack's death. This explicit reference to childhood trauma suggests another, quite powerful, reason why Brokeback must be seen as a specifically gay tragedy. In another review that decried the use of the term "gay cowboy movie" ("a cruel simplification"), the Chicago Sun-Times's critic, Roger Ebert, wrote with ostensible compassion about the dilemma of Jack and Ennis, declaring that "their tragedy is universal. It could be about two women, or lovers from different religious or ethnic groups—any 'forbidden' love." This is well-meaning but seriously misguided. The tragedy of heterosexual lovers from different religious or ethnic groups is, essentially, a social tragedy; as we watch it unfold, we are meant to be outraged by the irrationality of social strictures that prevent the two from loving each other, strictures that the lovers themselves may legitimately rail against and despise.

But those lovers, however star-crossed, never despise themselves. As Brokeback makes so eloquently clear, the tragedy of gay lovers like Ennis and Jack is only secondarily a social tragedy. Their tragedy, which starts well before the lovers ever meet, is primarily a psychological tragedy, a tragedy of psyches scarred from the very first stirrings of an erotic desire which the world around them—beginning in earliest childhood, in the bosom of their families, as Ennis's grim flashback is meant to remind us—represents as unhealthy, hateful, and deadly. Romeo and Juliet (and we) may hate the outside world, the Capulets and Montagues, may hate Verona; but because they learn to hate homosexuality so early on, young people with homosexual impulses more often than not grow up hating themselves: they believe that there's something wrong with themselves long before they can understand that there's something wrong with society. This is the truth that Heath Ledger, who plays Ennis, clearly understands—"Fear was instilled in him at an early age, and so the way he loved disgusted him," the actor has said—and that is so brilliantly conveyed by his deservedly acclaimed performance. On screen, Ennis's self-repression and self-loathing are given startling physical form: the awkward, almost hobbled quality of his gait, the constricted gestures, the way in which he barely opens his mouth when he talks all speak eloquently of a man who is tormented simply by being in his own body—by being himself.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So much, at any rate, for the movie being a love story like any other, even a tragic one. To their great credit, the makers of Brokeback Mountain—the writers Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, the director Ang Lee—seem, despite the official rhetoric, to have been aware that they were making a movie specifically about the closet. The themes of repression, containment, the emptiness of unrealized lives—all ending in the "nothingness" to which Ennis achingly refers—are consistently expressed in the film, appropriately enough, by the use of space; given the film's homoerotic themes, this device is particularly meaningful. The two lovers are only happy in the wide, unfenced outdoors, where exuberant shots of enormous skies and vast landscapes suggest, tellingly, that what the men feel for each other is "natural." By contrast, whenever we see Jack and Ennis indoors, in the scenes that show the failure of their domestic and social lives, they look cramped and claustrophobic. (Ennis in particular is often seen in reflection, in various mirrors: a figure confined in a tiny frame.) There's a sequence in which we see Ennis in Wyoming, and then Jack in Texas, anxiously preparing for one of their "fishing trips," and both men, as they pack for their trip—Ennis nearly leaves behind his fishing tackle, the unused and increasingly unpersuasive prop for the fiction he tells his wife each time he goes away with Jack— pace back and forth in their respective houses like caged animals.

The climax of these visual contrasts is also the emotional climax of the film, which takes place in two consecutive scenes, both of which prominently feature closets—literal closets. In the first, a grief-stricken Ennis, now in his late thirties, visits Jack's childhood home, where in the tiny closet of Jack's almost bare room he discovers two shirts—his and Jack's, the clothes they'd worn during their summer on Brokeback Mountain—one of which Jack has sentimentally encased in the other. (At the end of that summer, Ennis had thought he'd lost the shirt; only now do we realize that Jack had stolen it for this purpose.) The image —which is taken directly from Proulx's story—of the two shirts hidden in the closet, preserved in an embrace which the men who wore them could never fully enjoy, stands as the poignant visual symbol of the story's tragedy. Made aware too late of how greatly he was loved, of the extent of his loss, Ennis stands in the tiny windowless space, caressing the shirts and weeping wordlessly.

In the scene that follows, another misplaced piece of clothing leads to a similar scene of tragic realization. Now middle-aged and living alone in a battered, sparsely furnished trailer (a setting with which Proulx's story begins, the tale itself unfolding as a long flashback), Ennis receives a visit from his grown daughter, who announces that she's engaged to be married. "Does he love you?" the blighted father protectively demands, as if realizing too late that this is all that matters. After the girl leaves, Ennis realizes she's left her sweater behind, and when he opens his little closet door to store it there, we see that he's hung the two shirts from their first summer, one still wearing the other, on the inside of the closet door, below a tattered postcard of Brokeback Mountain. Just as we see this, the camera pulls back to allow us a slightly wider view, which reveals a little window next to the closet, a rectangular frame that affords a glimpse of a field of yellow flowers and the mountains and sky. The juxtaposition of the two spaces—the cramped and airless closet, the window with its unlimited vistas beyond—efficiently but wrenchingly suggests the man's tragedy: the life he has lived, the life that might have been. His eyes filling with tears, Ennis looks at his closet and says, "Jack, I swear..."; but he never completes his sentence, as he never completed his life.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

One of the most tortured, but by no means untypical, attempts to suggest that the tragic heroes of Brokeback Mountain aren't "really" gay appeared in, of all places, the San Francisco Chronicle, where the critic Mick LaSalle argued that the film is

about two men who are in love, and it makes no sense. It makes no sense in terms of who they are, where they are, how they live and how they see themselves. It makes no sense in terms of what they do for a living or how they would probably vote in a national election....
The situation carries a lot of emotional power, largely because it's so specific and yet undefined. The two guys—cowboys—are in love with each other, but we don't ever quite know if they're in love with each other because they're gay, or if they're gay because they're in love with each other.
It's possible that if these fellows had never met, one or both would have gone through life straight.
The statement suggests what's wrong with so much of the criticism of the film, however well-meaning it is. It seems clear by now that Brokeback has received the attention it's been getting, from critics and audiences alike, partly because it seems on its surface to make normal what many people think of as gay experience— bringing it into the familiar "heart of America." (Had this been the story of, say, the love between two closeted interior decorators living in New York City in the 1970s, you suspect that there wouldn't be full-page ads in the major papers trumpeting its "universal" themes.) But the fact that this film's main characters look like cowboys doesn't make them, or their story, any less gay. Criticisms like LaSalle's, and those of the many other critics trying to persuade you that Brokeback isn't "really" gay, that Jack and Ennis's love "makes no sense" because they're Wyoming ranch hands who are likely to vote Republican, only work if you believe that being gay means having a certain look, or lifestyle (urban, say), or politics; that it's anything other than the bare fact of being erotically attached primarily to members of your own sex.

Indeed, the point that gay people have been trying to make for years—a point that Brokeback could be making now, if so many of its vocal admirers would listen to what it's saying—is that there's no such thing as a typi-cal gay person, a strangely different-seeming person with whom Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar have nothing in common—thankfully, you can't help feeling, in the eyes of many commentators. (It is surely significant that the film's only major departure from Proulx's story are two scenes clearly meant to underscore Jack's and Ennis's bona fides as macho American men: one in which Jack successfully challenges his boorish father-in-law at a Thanksgiving celebration, and another in which Ennis punches a couple of biker goons at a July Fourth picnic—a scene that culminates with the image of Ennis standing tall against a skyscape of exploding fireworks.)

The real achievement of Brokeback Mountain is not that it tells a universal love story that happens to have gay characters in it, but that it tells a distinctively gay story that happens to be so well told that any feeling person can be moved by it. If you insist, as so many have, that the story of Jack and Ennis is OK to watch and sympathize with because they're not really homosexual—that they're more like the heart of America than like "gay people"—you're pushing them back into the closet whose narrow and suffocating confines Ang Lee and his collaborators have so beautifully and harrowingly exposed.
We can't change it. We will have to stand it.

Offline dirtbiker

  • Mod Squad
  • Jack + Ennis
  • ***
  • Posts: 2768
  • Gender: Male
Re: Reviews - Magazines
« Reply #10 on: Feb 06, 2006, 12:46 PM »
Yes, it is about time a critic stands up for what the movie really represents.  Yes, it is a universal love story, but the core of which involves 2 GAY men caught up in the homophobia and repression of the time, and the lives that have been destroyed by it.  The word "gay" is so often associated with a stereotype that it is difficult for some to characterize this movie as fundamentally about two non-stereotypical GAY men caught up in the times.

Offline *Froggy*

  • Jack + Ennis
  • *
  • Posts: 10977
  • Gender: Female
  • No longer using this account: frog123
Re: Reviews - Magazines
« Reply #11 on: Feb 06, 2006, 03:13 PM »
Yes, it is about time a critic stands up for what the movie really represents.  Yes, it is a universal love story, but the core of which involves 2 GAY men caught up in the homophobia and repression of the time, and the lives that have been destroyed by it.  The word "gay" is so often associated with a stereotype that it is difficult for some to characterize this movie as fundamentally about two non-stereotypical GAY men caught up in the times.

Thank you x :-*
Support bacteria, they are the only culture some people have!


If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he, and I was I.
~ Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592) ~ (Thankx to gimmejack)

Offline Rod

  • Alma Jr.
  • **
  • Posts: 85
Re: Reviews - Magazines
« Reply #12 on: Feb 06, 2006, 03:40 PM »
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18712

An Affair to Remember
By Daniel Mendelsohn
Brokeback Mountain
a film directed by Ang Lee, based on the story by E. Annie Proulx
Brokeback Mountain—the highly praised new movie as well as the short story by Annie Proulx on which the picture is faithfully based—is a tale about two homosexual men. Two gay men. To some people it will seem strange to say this; to some other people, it will seem strange to have to say it. Strange to say it, because the story is, as everyone now knows, about two young Wyoming ranch hands who fall in love as teenagers in 1963 and continue their tortured affair, furtively, over the next twenty years. And as everyone also knows, when most people hear the words "two homosexual men" or "gay," the image that comes to mind is not likely to be one of rugged young cowboys who shoot elk and ride broncos for fun.

Two homosexual men: it is strange to have to say it just now because the distinct emphasis of so much that has been said about the movie—in commercial advertising as well as in the adulatory reviews—has been that the story told in Brokeback Mountain is not, in fact, a gay story, but a sweeping romantic epic with "universal" appeal. The lengths to which reviewers from all over the country, representing publications of various ideological shadings, have gone in order to diminish the specifically gay element is striking, as a random sampling of the reviews collected on the film's official Web site makes clear. The Wall Street Journal's critic asserted that "love stories come and go, but this one stays with you—not because both lovers are men, but because their story is so full of life and longing, and true romance." The Los Angeles Times declared the film to be

a deeply felt, emotional love story that deals with the uncharted, mysterious ways of the human heart just as so many mainstream films have before it. The two lovers here just happen to be men.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Indeed, a month after the movie's release most of the reviews were resisting, indignantly, the popular tendency to refer to it as "the gay cowboy movie." "It is much more than that glib description implies," the critic of the Minneapolis Star Tribune sniffed. "This is a human story." This particular rhetorical emphasis figures prominently in the advertising for the film, which in quoting such passages reflects the producer's understandable desire that Brokeback Mountain not be seen as something for a "niche" market but as a story with broad appeal, whatever the particulars of its time, place, and personalities. (The words "gay" and "homosexual" are never used of the film's two main characters in the forty-nine-page press kit distributed by the filmmakers to critics.) "One movie is connecting with the heart of America," one of the current print ad campaigns declares; the ad shows the star Heath Ledger, without his costar, grinning in a cowboy hat. A television ad that ran immediately after the Golden Globe awards a few weeks ago showed clips of the male leads embracing their wives, but not each other.

The reluctance to be explicit about the film's themes and content was evident at the Golden Globes, where the film took the major awards—for best movie drama, best director, and best screenplay. When a short montage of clips from the film was screened, it was described as "a story of monumental conflict"; later, the actor reading the names of nominees for best actor in a movie drama described Heath Ledger's character as "a cowboy caught up in a complicated love." After Ang Lee received the award he was quoted as saying, "This is a universal story. I just wanted to make a love story."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Because I am as admiring as almost everyone else of the film's many excellences, it seems to me necessary to counter this special emphasis in the way the film is being promoted and received. For to see Brokeback Mountain as a love story, or even as a film about universal human emotions, is to misconstrue it very seriously—and in so doing inevitably to diminish its real achievement.

Both narratively and visually, Brokeback Mountain is a tragedy about the specifically gay phenomenon of the "closet"—about the disastrous emotional and moral consequences of erotic self-repression and of the social intolerance that first causes and then exacerbates it. What love story there is occurs early on in the film, and briefly: a summer's idyll herding sheep on a Wyoming mountain, during which two lonely youths, taciturn Ennis and high-spirited Jack, fall into bed, and then in love, with each other. The sole visual representation of their happiness in love is a single brief shot of the two shirtless youths horsing around in the grass. That shot is eerily—and significantly—silent, voiceless: it turns out that what we are seeing is what the boys' boss is seeing through his binoculars as he spies on them.

After that—because their love for each other can't be fitted into the lives they think they must lead—misery pursues and finally destroys the two men and everyone with whom they come in contact with the relentless thoroughness you associate with Greek tragedy. By the end of the drama, indeed, whole families have been laid waste. Ennis's marriage to a conventional, sweet-natured girl disintegrates, savaging her simple illusions and spoiling the home life of his two daughters; Jack's nervy young wife, Lureen, devolves into a brittle shrew, her increasingly elaborate and artificial hairstyles serving as a visual marker of the ever-growing mendacity that underlies the couple's relationship. Even an appealing young waitress, with whom Ennis after his divorce has a flirtation (an episode much amplified from a bare mention in the original story), is made miserable by her brief contact with a man who is as enigmatic to himself as he is to her. If Jack and Ennis are tainted, it's not because they're gay, but because they pretend not to be; it's the lie that poisons everyone they touch.

As for Jack and Ennis themselves, the brief and infrequent vacations that they are able to take together as the years pass—"fishing trips" on which, as Ennis's wife points out, still choking on her bitterness years after their marriage fails, no fish were ever caught— are haunted, increasingly, by the specter of the happier life they might have had, had they been able to live together. Their final vacation together (before Jack is beaten to death in what is clearly represented, in a flashback, as a roadside gay-bashing incident) is poisoned by mutual recriminations. "I wish I knew how to quit you," the now nearly middle-aged Jack tearfully cries out, humiliated by years of having to seek sexual solace in the arms of Mexican hustlers. "It's because of you that I'm like this—nothing, nobody," the dirt-poor Ennis sobs as he collapses in the dust. What Ennis means, of course, is that he's "nothing" because loving Jack has forced him to be aware of real passion that has no outlet, aware of a sexual nature that he cannot ignore but which neither his background nor his circumstances have equipped him to make part of his life. Again and again over the years, he rebuffs Jack's offers to try living together and running "a little cow and calf operation" somewhere, hobbled by his inability even to imagine what a life of happiness might look like.

One reason he can't bring himself to envision such a life with his lover is a grisly childhood memory, presented in flashback, of being taken at the age of eight by his father to see the body of a gay rancher who'd been tortured and beaten to death—a scene that prefigures the scene of Jack's death. This explicit reference to childhood trauma suggests another, quite powerful, reason why Brokeback must be seen as a specifically gay tragedy. In another review that decried the use of the term "gay cowboy movie" ("a cruel simplification"), the Chicago Sun-Times's critic, Roger Ebert, wrote with ostensible compassion about the dilemma of Jack and Ennis, declaring that "their tragedy is universal. It could be about two women, or lovers from different religious or ethnic groups—any 'forbidden' love." This is well-meaning but seriously misguided. The tragedy of heterosexual lovers from different religious or ethnic groups is, essentially, a social tragedy; as we watch it unfold, we are meant to be outraged by the irrationality of social strictures that prevent the two from loving each other, strictures that the lovers themselves may legitimately rail against and despise.

But those lovers, however star-crossed, never despise themselves. As Brokeback makes so eloquently clear, the tragedy of gay lovers like Ennis and Jack is only secondarily a social tragedy. Their tragedy, which starts well before the lovers ever meet, is primarily a psychological tragedy, a tragedy of psyches scarred from the very first stirrings of an erotic desire which the world around them—beginning in earliest childhood, in the bosom of their families, as Ennis's grim flashback is meant to remind us—represents as unhealthy, hateful, and deadly. Romeo and Juliet (and we) may hate the outside world, the Capulets and Montagues, may hate Verona; but because they learn to hate homosexuality so early on, young people with homosexual impulses more often than not grow up hating themselves: they believe that there's something wrong with themselves long before they can understand that there's something wrong with society. This is the truth that Heath Ledger, who plays Ennis, clearly understands—"Fear was instilled in him at an early age, and so the way he loved disgusted him," the actor has said—and that is so brilliantly conveyed by his deservedly acclaimed performance. On screen, Ennis's self-repression and self-loathing are given startling physical form: the awkward, almost hobbled quality of his gait, the constricted gestures, the way in which he barely opens his mouth when he talks all speak eloquently of a man who is tormented simply by being in his own body—by being himself.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So much, at any rate, for the movie being a love story like any other, even a tragic one. To their great credit, the makers of Brokeback Mountain—the writers Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, the director Ang Lee—seem, despite the official rhetoric, to have been aware that they were making a movie specifically about the closet. The themes of repression, containment, the emptiness of unrealized lives—all ending in the "nothingness" to which Ennis achingly refers—are consistently expressed in the film, appropriately enough, by the use of space; given the film's homoerotic themes, this device is particularly meaningful. The two lovers are only happy in the wide, unfenced outdoors, where exuberant shots of enormous skies and vast landscapes suggest, tellingly, that what the men feel for each other is "natural." By contrast, whenever we see Jack and Ennis indoors, in the scenes that show the failure of their domestic and social lives, they look cramped and claustrophobic. (Ennis in particular is often seen in reflection, in various mirrors: a figure confined in a tiny frame.) There's a sequence in which we see Ennis in Wyoming, and then Jack in Texas, anxiously preparing for one of their "fishing trips," and both men, as they pack for their trip—Ennis nearly leaves behind his fishing tackle, the unused and increasingly unpersuasive prop for the fiction he tells his wife each time he goes away with Jack— pace back and forth in their respective houses like caged animals.

The climax of these visual contrasts is also the emotional climax of the film, which takes place in two consecutive scenes, both of which prominently feature closets—literal closets. In the first, a grief-stricken Ennis, now in his late thirties, visits Jack's childhood home, where in the tiny closet of Jack's almost bare room he discovers two shirts—his and Jack's, the clothes they'd worn during their summer on Brokeback Mountain—one of which Jack has sentimentally encased in the other. (At the end of that summer, Ennis had thought he'd lost the shirt; only now do we realize that Jack had stolen it for this purpose.) The image —which is taken directly from Proulx's story—of the two shirts hidden in the closet, preserved in an embrace which the men who wore them could never fully enjoy, stands as the poignant visual symbol of the story's tragedy. Made aware too late of how greatly he was loved, of the extent of his loss, Ennis stands in the tiny windowless space, caressing the shirts and weeping wordlessly.

In the scene that follows, another misplaced piece of clothing leads to a similar scene of tragic realization. Now middle-aged and living alone in a battered, sparsely furnished trailer (a setting with which Proulx's story begins, the tale itself unfolding as a long flashback), Ennis receives a visit from his grown daughter, who announces that she's engaged to be married. "Does he love you?" the blighted father protectively demands, as if realizing too late that this is all that matters. After the girl leaves, Ennis realizes she's left her sweater behind, and when he opens his little closet door to store it there, we see that he's hung the two shirts from their first summer, one still wearing the other, on the inside of the closet door, below a tattered postcard of Brokeback Mountain. Just as we see this, the camera pulls back to allow us a slightly wider view, which reveals a little window next to the closet, a rectangular frame that affords a glimpse of a field of yellow flowers and the mountains and sky. The juxtaposition of the two spaces—the cramped and airless closet, the window with its unlimited vistas beyond—efficiently but wrenchingly suggests the man's tragedy: the life he has lived, the life that might have been. His eyes filling with tears, Ennis looks at his closet and says, "Jack, I swear..."; but he never completes his sentence, as he never completed his life.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

One of the most tortured, but by no means untypical, attempts to suggest that the tragic heroes of Brokeback Mountain aren't "really" gay appeared in, of all places, the San Francisco Chronicle, where the critic Mick LaSalle argued that the film is

about two men who are in love, and it makes no sense. It makes no sense in terms of who they are, where they are, how they live and how they see themselves. It makes no sense in terms of what they do for a living or how they would probably vote in a national election....
The situation carries a lot of emotional power, largely because it's so specific and yet undefined. The two guys—cowboys—are in love with each other, but we don't ever quite know if they're in love with each other because they're gay, or if they're gay because they're in love with each other.
It's possible that if these fellows had never met, one or both would have gone through life straight.
The statement suggests what's wrong with so much of the criticism of the film, however well-meaning it is. It seems clear by now that Brokeback has received the attention it's been getting, from critics and audiences alike, partly because it seems on its surface to make normal what many people think of as gay experience— bringing it into the familiar "heart of America." (Had this been the story of, say, the love between two closeted interior decorators living in New York City in the 1970s, you suspect that there wouldn't be full-page ads in the major papers trumpeting its "universal" themes.) But the fact that this film's main characters look like cowboys doesn't make them, or their story, any less gay. Criticisms like LaSalle's, and those of the many other critics trying to persuade you that Brokeback isn't "really" gay, that Jack and Ennis's love "makes no sense" because they're Wyoming ranch hands who are likely to vote Republican, only work if you believe that being gay means having a certain look, or lifestyle (urban, say), or politics; that it's anything other than the bare fact of being erotically attached primarily to members of your own sex.

Indeed, the point that gay people have been trying to make for years—a point that Brokeback could be making now, if so many of its vocal admirers would listen to what it's saying—is that there's no such thing as a typi-cal gay person, a strangely different-seeming person with whom Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar have nothing in common—thankfully, you can't help feeling, in the eyes of many commentators. (It is surely significant that the film's only major departure from Proulx's story are two scenes clearly meant to underscore Jack's and Ennis's bona fides as macho American men: one in which Jack successfully challenges his boorish father-in-law at a Thanksgiving celebration, and another in which Ennis punches a couple of biker goons at a July Fourth picnic—a scene that culminates with the image of Ennis standing tall against a skyscape of exploding fireworks.)


The real achievement of Brokeback Mountain is not that it tells a universal love story that happens to have gay characters in it, but that it tells a distinctively gay story that happens to be so well told that any feeling person can be moved by it. If you insist, as so many have, that the story of Jack and Ennis is OK to watch and sympathize with because they're not really homosexual—that they're more like the heart of America than like "gay people"—you're pushing them back into the closet whose narrow and suffocating confines Ang Lee and his collaborators have so beautifully and harrowingly exposed.




This is one of my favorite reviews, very thoughtful, and after reading I think I must agree....this quote kills me because the truth of it kills people in our culture (physicall and/or emotionaly,

"young people with homosexual impulses more often than not grow up hating themselves: they believe that there's something wrong with themselves long before they can understand that there's something wrong with society