Monday, January 23, 2006

Bareback Mountain

I know, the nominations aren't even out yet, but I'm going to go out on a limb, skip the formalities of knowing the nominees, and predict that Brokeback Mountain is going to win this year's Oscar for Best Picture. Brokeback Mountain, to me, is right up there with Chariots of Fire --people, it's wearing the Emperor's New Clothes - it's boring!

As you all know, Brokeback is the "gay cowboy" movie, and reviews have bandied around words like "groundbreaking" and "monumental." I guess that's true - but, only in terms of scale - bigtime money, bigtime director, bigtime budget, bigtime Hollywood stars, straight from Dawsons Creek, no less. I don't know about you, but for years, I've been watching small, low-budget films that portray gay love stories -anyone remember Maurice - a small, Merchant Ivory film starring Hugh Grant and James Wilby, as undergrads who fall in love amidst the library stacks at Cambridge? Or Longtime Companion - who had a dry eye when Bruce Davison gave his lover permission to die? Clearly, this is not the first time we've seen gay love portrayed on the bigscreen, but it is perhaps the first time we've seen very graphic gay sex. Which is all good, and maybe groundbreaking, but let's not confuse love with sex, as we are so often apt to do. Really, there are probably more movies out there about gay men in love, gay men repressing their love, and gay men being persecuted for their love than there are movies about Jews in love - when was the last time you saw a movie where two Jews fell in love - with each other, not the shiksa who comes waltzing in, like Melanie Griffith (like a Hassad would fall for Melanie, please). The only movies where Jews get to be in love is if they're about to be attacked by Cossacks, or they're on the train to be gassed -- and even then, we're more likely to see them fall in love with the good Christian who is trying to save them. At the end of
The Way We Were, when Barbra Streisand finally finds love and contentment with the only David X. Cohen in the book, we never even get to see the guy. But, anyway . . .

Let's face it, while Heath Ledger's character is undeniably head over heels, paralzyed in love with Jake Gyllenhaal, Jake's character is just a player. Say this was a traditional boy meets girl movie - boy meets girl on mountain - they're promised to other people. Boy moves down the mountain, lives life of quiet desperation with his wife. Girl goes down mountain, lives life with husband, takes quicky trips to Mexico, and then quietly sets up a secret house with a new boyfriend on the side, all the while stringing along the cowboy she left behind. Is this really the love story of all love stories? And, this nonsense about how because of societal pressures they couldn't be together - they had an entire mountain to be together - mountains and mountains and moutains - one of the taglines for this movie that I can't argue with is "visually stunning." They could have been happily romping around the range, playing among the sheep and the cows.

At the Golden Globes, Brokeback Mountain won best picture, best adapted screenplay, best director, and best song. Best writing? "I don't know how to quit you" please. Director? I guess it goes along with the Best Picture territory. But, what makes Brokeback Mountain, is Heath Ledger. But for Heath Ledger's performance, this could have been Heaven's Gate. I'll discuss Heath's chances in a later post, but things don't look good.

And the rest of the nominees - I'm going with Walk the Line, Capote, Crash, and Good Night & Good Luck. Other contenders - History of Violence and The Constant Gardner. I think Walk the Line, Capote and Good Night & Good Luck are money bets, Crash I think will squeeze in there because it will be a way to reward a stunning number of good performances, and it will be a consolation prize for Terrance Howard when he doesn't get nominated for Hustle & Flow.

4 Comments:

Blogger Merrill Mason said...

Wendy, I'm loving this. You are outrageously prolific. Want to come over and unpack my kitchen? You'll have it done, plus a sweater and a few blog entries, in no time. I'll still be reading the instruction manual for my new microwave.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Viv said...

Found this blog through your comment on mine. Love it! I no longer have TV (just DVD access) and I miss the Oscar's. I have always been a sucker for award shows. So I'll be reading your blow-by-blow :-)

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Viv said...

Oh, for the record, I adored Pride and Prejudice (this from a huge Jane Austen fan). I saw Match Point last night and although it kept me fully entertained, I thought Crimes and Misdemeanors tackled the same moral dilemmas more effectively. Haven't seen any of the others you mention on your two blogs, unfortunately.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous mimsie said...

For another "gay themed" movie rec, I'll suggest "It's My Party". Total tearjerker and it's got Balki from Perect Strangers! Balki!!

1:50 PM  

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