Gay cowboys eating pudding...
It's actually not fair to pretend that she forced me, I've been meaning to get around to watching it for a while now. Pretty much as soon as it started generating Oscar buzz and I realized it was pre-destined to win. I really did try to give it a fair shake but I think I'm going to have to give it a thumbs in the middle, with a slight pointing down. And probably not for the reason you think.
---- Here be SPOILERS, such that they are ----
See, it would be really easy to say "wow, that was fucking gay! That fucking sucked!" or "wow, what a charming and touching love story between to gorgeous mens! How fabulous!" But the truth is, the movie was almost not gay enough.
Problem number one. No dialouge. Ennis, the film's central character is a cowboy. He is made of very stern stuff. A man of few words. He just kinda grunts and stares a lot. A classic cowboy. Only this is a movie. And in the movies, you need people to... you know... move... and speak from time to time. Even the great strong silent cowboys of yore, Wayne, Eastwood, Diamond Phillips, in reality, they actually talked all the time. People kept saying "they're so silent" but they actually spoke a lot. That allows the audience to relate to them. It allows us to see their character.
Which brings us to problem number 2. Character. No one had one. This isn't an action movie. Fine. It's not a story movie. Ok, that's fine too. But that means it needs to be a character movie. It wasn't. You have Ennis. Strong silent cowboy, never speaks, is straight or gay as the scene calls for. Is in love or not as the scene calls for. Jack, romantic interest, definitely gay, except for when he's straight. Alternates from scene to scene from being a wishy washy push over to be a domineering cunty man-bitch and then back again. Wash, rinse, repeat. Alma, Ennis's wife. Pretty consistently a mousy pushover, except when she decides to become a strong independent woman because she realizes her husband is gay and fucking another dude, except she then seems to kinda forget and be a mousy pushover again because she's getting fucked, that is until she remembers (years after their divorce), breaks down and crys and then almost kills him. Lureen, an actually beliveable female character at first. She's a strong, rodeo riding gal, who knows how to drink, and go after what she wants (in this case screwing Jack in the back of her convertible, which I'm pretty sure was just an excuse to get Anne Hathaway's tits into the movie, because everyone knows that the female orgasm hadn't been discovered yet in 1963). Only the next time we see her, she's a totally adoring mother doting on her newborn son, and then the next time we see her she's a successful business woman who neglects her family, and then the next time we see her she's a tortured housewife torn between her husband and her father, and then the next time we see her she's rockin' the hilary clinton marriage of convenience vibe, and then the next time we see her, she's a broken widow. About the only character I believe is Joe Aguirre who is the ranch owner at Brokeback Mountain (played by Randy Quaid). Loves money. Hates queers. Pretty simple. Too bad he only has 7 min. of screentime. He was my anchor.
Problem number 3. The screenplay. It sucked. It's an adaptation to a short story, which I have never read, but one would hope that if it got optioned it's better than this. There was no sense of pacing. It ran maybe 45 minutes too long. There is a subplot between Ennis and his daughter that could have been really interesting but it comes out of nowhere, being introduced in the last 20 minutes or so of a 134 minute movie. What I keep hearing is that if you forget about the gay thing its just a wonderful lovestory. That's bullshit. There's no plot. There's only "the gay thing." Only since no one has a consistent character, its hard to really see them as gay. And its just too random. The key scene is where the two guys are hanging out on the mountain. It gets cold, so they share a tent. Jack sleepily pulls Ennis's arm over him. They both wake up, startled. But Jack is into it, so he tries to kiss Ennis. Ennis doesn't swing that way, so he pushes Jack off like three times. Jack responds by unzipping his pants. This is more than Ennis can stand, so he flips Jack over and fucks him up the ass. Then they go to sleep. And Scene!
I shit you not, that is exactly how it goes down. If it had been a straight couple I totally would not have bought that. Since both characters claim to be straight, I need even more character or story development to get me there. It never comes. They come down off the mountain, never expect to see each other again, spend four years being straight and making babies and not speaking to each other, and then all of a sudden Jack visits Ennis and they check into a motel for more sodomy. Uh, yeah... that makes sense. I'm not asking for a lot. Just some filler that gives me a why, and not just a that. It's not that I don't believe something like that could happen in real life. Its that in fiction I need more than real life. I need realler than real. A reason to suspend disbelief. I didn't get that here.
Final Rating: (2 out 5 stars)
The real tragedy here is that you just know this is going to win the Oscar, and it totally doesn't deserve to. I don't mean to say it was a bad movie. It really wasn't. Honestly, if it were bad, I probably would have enjoyed it more. The truth is it was just shy of mediocre. And an Academy winner should never be mediocre. If anything, the film's crowing achievement is that it is topical. It does succeed in making a statement about our times (though its set 43 to 23 years ago) and homosexuality. I've always felt that a Best Picture award should go to a film highly representative of the era in which it was made, be it Casablanca or American Beauty. If anything this movie is representative of 2005. But I don't feel its a good representation. If you browse the indy film shelves for last year, I'm sure you can find a dozen better movies about homosexuality. Its just that none of them happened to be directed by the guy who did Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. And really, I think I can honestly say, my preferences aside, Sin City was simply a much better film than Brokeback, and I firmly believe that its being snubbed because of Rodriguez's problems with the DGA. I mean, even if you don't agree that it was deserving of best picture, you have to acknowledge that they fact that it didn't at least get a token nod in art direction, cinematography, visual effects, costume design or even makeup is criminal. Star Wars Ep III got a makeup nod. For what? Painting red dots on Natalie Portman's face? Using an Emperor mask that was sculpted in the 80s?
Fuck the academy, fuck the oscars, and fuck brokeback mountain... Umm, in a totally hetero, manly kinda way.