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Comments

Dmitry

It definitely is a great movie, and it's astounding - though not surprising - that it lost the Oscar (while winning virtually every other best picture award out there, starting with the Venice Film Festival. Cannes Film Festival passed on the movie!) I remember right after it lost Kenneth Turan of the LA Times making the point that in public Academy likes to congratulate itself on being brave and inclusive, etc. etc. But in private Academy voters voted their consciences and shut out a groundbreaking film. (Remember George Clooney's Oscar acceptance speech in which he praised Hollywood for breaking down barriers? Ironic words in light of the show's final award.) And there were many in the Academy, in private interviews with the media, who admitted that they didn't even watch the screeners because they were uncomfortable with the subject matter. The Academy is mostly made up of senior citizens, so perhaps that explains how they voted. They'll all die soon!

I'm not sure if I thought Hathaway's reaction to Jack's homosexuality was detachment. Unless my definition of that word is a bit different. She's clearly aware of what her husband does and is and she's livid. I read one person describe her as "calcifying." I think that's a good way to describe it. She just turns into stone in front of our eyes. And in that conversation with Ledger's Ennis at the end of the film the rage and hurt boiling just under the stony facade is explosive. I think Hathaway's performance is superb, even if her hair-styles aren't!

philip

I guess what I meant was, Hathaway's reaction was so different from that of Michelle Williams. Hathaway kept her cool no matter what she was feeling. She treated Jack/Jake with 'detachment' and you are right about her conversation with Ennis/Heath: smouldering.

What about the two versions of how Jack died: a tire blew up in is face or he was beaten to death by homophobic thugs? I haven't read Proulx's short story, but I had the feeling that Hathaway was describing the accidental death as the family's cover-up story for what really happened.

Over the years I have usually felt that the Golden Globes are more genuine than the Oscars, which tend to play things safe and sometimes to be 'compensatory'. If I was working in the film business I'd feel prouder getting a Globe; but I guess the Oscar is still the big deal in the public eye.

Chimene

You pretty much nailed the movie down, which I recently saw in Jan for the 1st time. I just don't go to movie theaters often. I am still not entirely sure what all the fuss was about this movie other than the fact that it portrays gay lovers; the sex/kissing scenes are interesting. I found it a little too slow and boring in some parts for my tastes, but it is a good flick.

tonya

I'd missed it in the theaters too for the same reason you did -- heard it was too slow-moving. I'm definitely going to have to rent it now!

Re. wives' various ways of dealing with their husband's homosexuality, did you ever see DeLovely? I loved Ashley Judd's performance in that!

philip

Being a Hollywood 'gay' movie, the kissing and sex scenes are terribly tame. It's the emotional situation and the struggle of the two men to lead double lives that make the film powerful.

Dmitry

The sex scene (there's just one) is extremely tame compared to so many others that have been put on celluloid. And the two leads remain clothed throughout. Those who were shocked by it were really shocked because they know what is happening, not because they see it. Although just the description of the scene drove Mark Wahlberg away from the project; he was at some point considered for the film but was only too glad to be dropped by Ang Lee. And I suppose in our culture, where important generals proclaim homosexuality as "immoral," one really does need to give props to Ledger and (especially) Gyllenhall for going through with it. When "Six Degrees of Separation" was being filmed Will Smith agreed to kiss another man on screen (played by Anthony Michael Hall.) When the day arrived, he refused. So the kiss is seen from behind their heads, which is a cover for the fact that they were not kissing.

One other interesting sidenote, is that while "Brokeback" is the first mainstream Hollywood movie to show two men actually be sexual with one another (Tom Hanks and Antonio Banderas were just good friends in "Philadelphia"), it's not really the first important and well-known film to do that. Wong Kar-Wai's "Happy Together" (which got him a Best Director trophy at Cannes in 1997) and the sex scene between the two lovers is as explicit as the one in "Brokeback." What is, perhaps, an even bigger issue is that the two leads, Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung, had more to lose. Leung was a major action film star appearing in, among others, the films of John Woo. (As well as "Infernal Affairs," which Scorsese went on to remake as "The Departed.") And Cheung was an extremely popular pop-singer-cum-actor. So while "Brokeback" is a pioneer in Hollywood, Asian cinema got it done 8 years earlier.

Dmitry

Oh, and to answer your question Philip, about Jack's death. In the story Lureen recounts the story of the accident and Ennis thinks to himself that she is lying. But there's no confirmation from a third source as to which story is the truth. I think most people do conclude that Lureen's story is a lie created to protect her family name. That was always important to her; it's why she never confronted her husband about his fishing trips. As long as everything appeared to be normal - all was well. Though her real feelings aren't revealed until her conversation with Ennis.

tonya

Re. Dmitry's comment, there's also WILDE from England -- that's about 10 years old now. It starred Stephen Fry and Jude Law, who had no qualms whatsoever. We really are not so progressive here in the USA...

philip

And there was MAURICE; I remember when that was released. Caused quite a furore.

Also: ANOTHER COUNTRY.

Dmitry

I was just about to mention Merchant Ivory's "Maurice," made in 1987. It was Hugh Grant's film debut. I think "Brokeback" and especially "Happy Together" are a bit apart, however, in that they concentrate on the relationships much more than the other films. They're not message movies. The biggest message in"Brokeback," I suppose, is that these men's lies also destroy their wives' lives. "Happy Together" goes even further - the relationship between the two men exists seemingly outside of anything else. For a long stretch in the film they don't even leave their apartment in Buenos Aires. The focus is extremely narrow on the relationship: no messages, pleadings for acceptance, or judgments attached.

philip

I have often thought that gay men who marry women are extremely selfish and in the end are most likely to destroy their own happiness and the woman's as well. It must be about the most devastating thing in the world to find out your husband is 'secretly' gay; and even though I sometimes have seen from experience that the man does love and care about the woman, in the end it is a relationship based on a lie.

I used to be puzzled and amused when women were attracted to gay men; it's even happened to me a few times and not all that long ago. What would be the point? But then on the other hand, we gay guys are pretty great to be with. We are polite, caring, interesting, emotional, and we often like the same movies & books that women like. And lots of gay guys love to shop!

philip

...and: yes, Tonya: the USA should be the most progressive nation on Earth but we are not. Here in the Land of the Free I cannot even marry the person I love. Home of the Brave? Sure, you can serve in the military...just don't tell anyone. Especially General Pace.

tonya

Hahaha, Philip -- I don't know how to even begin to analyze what it is women find attractive in gay men, but I think most of us don't do it intentionally! I am a particularly bad case though ... when I was clerking for a judge in New Jersey I very briefly met James McGreevy, and in about five minutes, I'd developed this huge crush on him -- I don't even know why; he was just so smart and sweet and charming. And then years later when he came out, I was just the laughingstock with all of my friends! They called me the queen of 'reverse gay-dar'... And Marcelo -- I developed my enormous crush on him well before I saw the Advocate article too ... eh, just dunno, but it's definitely something!

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