February 27, 2006

Movie Review: "Brokeback Mountain"

Yeah, you read that right. I saw the "gay cowboy movie" (Not That There's Anything Wrong With Thatâ„¢) this afternoon, and now I'm going to review it.

First of all, I didn't watch BBM by choice. Someone in my TRF class managed to obtain a DVD meant for reviewers, and the professor decided that showing it to us in its entirety (the class is three hours long) was more important than screening the montages we've been working on for the past couple weeks.

Have I mentioned how much I love college, by the way?

Anyway, since I am a filmmaker, and I need a reason to procrastinate something to write about, I'm going to review the movie. Check it out in the extended entry...if you're not an EVIL, BIGOTED HOMOPHOBE!!!!11!!!!

...Sorry, I don't know where that came from. Anyway...

Basic plot synopsis: Two sheepherders, Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar, work together in the mountains for a couple weeks and alternate between being friends and trying to kill each other, then get really drunk one night and somehow end up having violent gay sex in a tent.

After this, they both go home, marry women, and have children, but they continue getting together for sex every few months. Because every other character in this movie apparently wants nothing more than to bash him some ho-mos (there's a semi-graphic flashback involving a dude being dragged by his genitals with a truck), they have to keep their relationship a secret.

Eventually, Ennis gets a divorce, and Jack cheats on his wife with men and women for several years until three fellow ranchers smash his face with a tire iron and leave him for dead. After this, Ennis finds out that his daughter is getting married. The end.

Now, that doesn't seem like a lot of plot, right? Seems like it could be told in about 90 minutes. But that's not what happens, as this movie is excruciatingly long, slow, and boring. Compared to BBM, even a ridiculously tedious film like Napoleon Dynamite seems like a non-stop thrill ride.

For example, the first 30 minutes of the film basically consist of the following (in about this order):

- Sheep
- Mumbled dialogue
- Sheep again
- Wide-angle shots of mountains
- More sheep
- Mumbled dialogue that includes the word "shit" several times
- Even more sheep
- More wide-angle shots of mountains
- More mumbled dialogue
- Still more sheep
- Mountains again
- Mutilated sheep
- Even more mumbled dialogue
- OMFG 2 D00DS K1SS1NG!!1!!
- A few more sheep
- "Shit...shit...shit..."
- A few more mountains

After this, the rest of the film is basically a chronicle of Ennis and Jack's various deceptions and implied sexual trysts. And in the spirit of the first act, everything that follows is boring as hell.

I've basically described the plot already: Ennis and Jack tell their wives that they're going fishing, when in reality, they're going up to Brokeback Mountain and getting busy. In the butt. If you know what I mean.

There's really no reason to elaborate any more than that, because the synopsis covers pretty much every major event. I'm more interested in the implications of the plot.

I'm aware that this movie is supposedy "controversial," but I really don't see it. On one hand, it's been portrayed as some sort of gay propaganda, but if that's the best they can do, then I don't think anyone should be worried. The "cowboys" (who, interestingly enough, never even go near any cows) seem more bisexual than gay, and there's not even that much explicit content (both sexes are shown making use of carnal knowledge, but there are more boobies than weeners, if you get my drift).

The little gay sex that is shown is portrayed as rather rough and unpleasant, and Jack and Ennis seem to take a punch in the face to mean "let's get it on." Not very effective propaganda, if you ask me. I didn't feel magically compelled to start wearing pink tank-tops and listening to show tunes or anything. On the whole (heh, see what I did there?), the film hardly tries to convince people that the gay lifestyle is valid, other than by invoking pity/empathy/etc. Which brings me to the next point...

The other side of the controversy coin seems to be that BBM is somehow a powerful tool for social change because it points out how horribly gays are treated in this country. But that, much like a lot of this movie, is bullshit. It takes place mostly in the 1970s, so the attitudes portrayed within can hardly be said to represent the thinking of today. The only external conflict between the main characters and "society" that stems from their having teh ghey is the (valid, within the framework of the plot) fear of being killed by the dozens of rednecks who populate the area. Everything else is entirely their fault.

Think about it. They start off as two unmarried dudes working alone in the wilderness, and they eventually discover that they enjoy engaging in buckfuttery with one another. However, they both decide that they "ain't queer" and go their separate ways, choosing to marry and start families.

Again, no visible pressure compels them to do this. They make the choice to live as heterosexuals, then act like they're being oppressed when those choices lead to strife. Even if it wasn't intended, the main theme of the film ends up not being "homosexuality is okay" or "homophobia is evil," but "deception can fuck up your life."

Jack and Ennis lie to their wives, then Ennis's wife finds out (very early, in fact) what he's really up to and refuses to admit it until years later. In an early moment when Jack's boss (who witnessed one of their get-togethers) tells him he can't work on Brokeback Mountain anymore, the implication is that it's because he's gay, but it's also because some of the sheep were attacked by a coyote while they were neglecting their duties.

The real moral of the story: "To thine own self be true." If both characters had accepted who they were instead of entangling their wives and children in their web of lies, they probably would have been better off. But that wouldn't make for a very interesting film, would it?

I had heard a lot about the cinematography in BBM before seeing it, and I will admit that a lot of the shots are very well-done. However, this doesn't validate the forced plot or the agonizingly slow pace. You can spend hours trying to take the perfect photo of a piece of shit, but in the end (see, I did it again!), you've still just taken a photo of a piece of shit.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Posted by CD at 06:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack