Gun's Goin Off – Brokeback Mountain

Wanted to bring the hateration but I can't – Brokeback Moutain is an excellent movie. I was concerned about seeing it as I tend to be allergic to movies that make an aesthetic out of flattering the tolerances and cultural superiority of it's perceived audience of art-house regulars and/or Oscar judges. But I didn't get any of that. It's a simple, tragic love story that is one of the more finely crafted movies America has put out in some time.

It reminds me a bit of Vanity Fair referring to the book Lolita as "The only convincing love story of our century." Hundreds of movies are churned out each year cast in the genre of "romance" or "romantic" and yet the best love story I've seen from the US is about two gay ranchers who hook up on fishing trips and, over decades, become paunchy and start to bicker like an old married couple (or more like the two old guys in the Muppet Show balcony if you'd prefer). Sandra Bullock should be ashamed of herself.

I do find it amusing how, even in a movie about gay cowboys, director Ang Lee leaves his mark. At times it feels more like his Sense and Sensibility than the actual honky tonk cattle ranching atmosphere where it's set. Everything from the skylines to the clothing to the landscape is so picturesque that if the acting didn't hold up (which thankfully it does) the whole thing may have dissolved into an modeling shoot or gay camp.

And the modeling shoot aspect of it is funnier when you consider that in the original short story the characters are unabashedly white trash. Consider what is said during the 'climax' of their first time together:

They went at it in silence except for a few sharp intakes of breath and Jack's choked "gun's goin off," then out, down, and asleep.

It would have made for a more interesting movie if the phrase "gun's goin off" was used during the romantic scenes, but sadly it was taken out. Go ahead and believe the hype and see this.

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11 Responses to “Gun's Goin Off – Brokeback Mountain”

  1. erik Says:

    Just to get a matter of protocol out of the way…

    We can still make fun of it even though its a good movie right? I mean, even while being really well done its still a gay cowboy movie and by virtue of genre alone deserving of some- shall we say- poking fun.

  2. mike Says:

    Absolutely. :) If only for the trailer alone.

    I'm still not sure if the guy who edited/made the trailer was a genius or inept. The fireworks and standalone "I wish I knew how to quit you!" terrified me when I first saw it.

    Did you ever see the South Park where the Sundance festival winner was gay cowboys editing pudding?

  3. Liz Says:

    I have yet to see it, sadly. Sense and Sensibility is one of my favorite movies, and I intended to be there the moment it came out, but Ed won't go see it and my friends and I haven't managed to align our schedules yet.

    Your review is heartening to me, Mike. I was getting ready to just let it go, largely on the ground that it's been getting A+++++++ ratings from everyone I know (including my extremely-earnest and recently-lesbian acquaintances), and I didn't think anything that broadly appealing could really avoid the glurge factor.

  4. mike Says:

    with a few moments aside there isn't much of a glurge factor. The movie isn't quite the Queer Cinema watershed that some people (or at least its critics) are making it out to be – something like Hedwig and the Angry Inch or a Todd Haynes movie is *significantly* more gay. To a large extent it doesn't even really wear gay politics on it's sleeve like, say, Boys Don't Cry. (that last statement could be challenged, but what I would argue would give away spoilers).

    I can imagine with the who-is-the-most-tolerant arms race that occurs in some places and the fact that our President acts like a cartoon of a cowboy rancher, praising the movie loudly may seem like storming the Bastille. But the movie is hardly a We! Are! Here! queercore manifesto – it's really just a slow, tragic love story with some great acting.

    Or to put it another way, the movie may feel like a watershed because it doesn't particularly come across as an alternative movie desconstructing away gender. It comes across as a strong classic American love story, which is probably freaking out the critics.

  5. Ed Says:

    If the title had been "Gun's Goin' Off" I would have seen it already. Thrice.

  6. Ambrosini Says:

    I agree Ed, "Gun's Goin' Off" would have made me go see it.

  7. Samantha Says:

    Good article on Sam Alito vs. Brokeback Mountain:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2006/01/20/notes012006.DTL&feed=rss.mmorford

  8. mike Says:

    Here's a really good review of the movie that makes me want to change and qualify a lot of the statements I've made:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18712

    In retrospect, it's totally about being gay. I missed framing shots of closets – I suck.

  9. Ed Says:

    Yes, clearly deference must be given to the New York Review of Books in this matter. And all others.

  10. mike Says:

    heh. I had said that the movie was more in the vein of a tragic love story (a la Romeo and Juliet) than a movie specifically of the gay experience. That nybooks article give a rather convincing argument that it's all about the closet – from the framing shots of key emotional scenes actually set *inside* closets (which I totally missed) to stuff related to Heath Ledger's character.

    I do give some deference to nybooks for movie reviews – since they never regularly have them they only give print space if the article really holds muster (it's not Denby or Ebert dragging out 2,000 words by print time).

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