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    Brokeback Mountin’

    I’m afraid my best friend has ruined Brokeback Mountain for me. I’ll try to watch it when I get the chance, but I’m pretty sure I’ll end up disgracing myself and have to leave (or turn off the DVD player).

    He’s just seen it himself, and he was describing it to me the other night. To get the full picture, you need context: We were at GB, sitting right under the framed photograph of Bette Davis. Backs to the wall. Surveying the gay drama in action (as it very much was on Saturday). So A. is trying to explain what he thought of the movie without giving too much away, but we’ve both read the short story, so eventually he decided to give me his entire take: “Heath Ledger–the Australian? He was pretty clearly going overboard on the Wild Wild West of America thing. But…I guess something gets lost in the translation from the Outback, though. If Heath Ledger knows anything about the Outback. And Jake Gyllenhaal was trying for the rugged thing, too, but he came off like a total f**k-me Mary! You know, he batted his eyes in every scene. They were trying to set him up as all gruff and crap, but the whole time you were sitting there thinking, ‘He’s gonna be the one to take it.'” Now, at this point, I was guffawing so hard I had the dry heaves. I managed to get my drink in both hands and set it down on the counter before I really made a scene, but not before dumping a few mouthfuls of it down the leg of my jeans.

    So it’s going to be hard for me to appreciate the layers of love and intimacy and pain on-screen with A.’s clipped, educated British voice, slightly but perceptibly aghast, calling Jake Gyllenhaal “Mary” in my head. And while imagining I can see Heath Ledger’s Method Acting cogs turning: Kinda like the Outback, just, like, no kangaroos…yeah.

    Hope it gets some Oscars, though.

    7 Responses to “Brokeback Mountin’”

    1. tanoki says:

      Alright, because I felt so guilty about distributing a purportedly faulty (at least for the people trying to connect from Japan) link to “Brokeback Squadron” last time, I am reposting a set of links, one of which I hope will give you all a chance to enjoy this awfully well-put-together spoof. It really is funny and, given the nature of this post, timely as well. Enjoy.




    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Thanks–those worked. And yes, it’s funny; I’d read about it before but never gotten around to looking at it. It almost makes Tom Cruise look like an actor.

    3. Rae (A Likely Story) said it best: Heath was awesome, but she kept being aware of Jake Gyllenhaal acting. I don’t know if he was miscast or just in over his head. I don’t think Heath was overboard at all: it’s an intense minimalist performance; he subsumes himself in the role.

      Did you even not like The Shipping News? She does have a distinctive style, so I can see why some people don’t warm up to her, but her more recent books – Shipping News, That Ole Ace in the Hole – temper the hardscrabble portraits with a good shot of humor. Her first novel, Postcards, has the painterly prose but no humor, like Cormac McCarthy (one of the few humorless writers I’ll tolerate)

    4. John Mahoney says:

      Tell A. not to be so mean to lil’ Jake… he can’t help that he’s a big flaming MO.

      A. also needs to do more research. I’ve known some butch bottom and some queeny tops – the degree of masculinity doesn’t correlate at all to one’s prefered role as top or bottom… at least in my experience.

      My apologies to A :-)


    5. Sean Kinsell says:


      “A. also needs to do more research. I’ve known some butch bottom and some queeny tops – the degree of masculinity doesn’t correlate at all to one’s prefered role as top or bottom… at least in my experience.”

      My dear, I don’t think A. is any more deficient in the research department than the rest of us. You’re right about real-life gay taxonomy, but what he was addressing had more to do with the nature of movie-making. Which is to say, you have to take real people at face value, more or less, but in a movie, you only have two hours and the scenes the director gives you. Within those limitations, if you’re going to be convinced by a character and invest in him, he has to make sense. There may be contradictions in his nature–they often drive his development over the course of the plot–but they have to be plausible ones. I think A.’s point was that there wasn’t any tension in Gyllenhaal’s eventual submission because he hadn’t established a persona of manful self-containment to begin with.


      “I don’t think Heath was overboard at all: it’s an intense minimalist performance; he subsumes himself in the role.”

      I think my friend was more saying that Ledger did that willfully wooden Clint Eastwood/Harrison Ford thing, where it’s like reverse scenery chewing? I haven’t seen the movie; maybe I won’t react the same way. I have no way of knowing yet. My only point was that his way of putting it was hilarious, and I’m probably going to have it echoing in my head when I finally get around to watching the damned thing so the enforcers from the Gay Conspiracy don’t confiscate my ID card.

      I’ve tried to like Annie Proulx. She obviously has affection for all the misfits and weirdos she writes about, and sometimes I have found that there will come a sequence in one of her stories or novels when I just slide right into its world. But eventually, as things progress, I always get back to feeling that everyone’s quirks are being underlined, highlighted, and flagged with miniature Post It notes so we don’t forget for one nanosecond how funky they are. And they’re always cold. (I mean, they live in chilly climates.) One of the reasons I actually thought “Brokeback Mountain” worked nicely was that she appeared to have decided that two men who fell in love didn’t need lots of other idiosyncrasies appliqueed onto them. Otherwise, I’ve never been able to find her stuff as charming and moving as a lot of other people do.

    6. Alan says:

      Well, to tell you the truth, Sean, while all the reviews will tell you how great the movie is, what they won’t tell you is how LONG it is. This movie could have been cut in half and it probably would have turned out better.

      I’m really disturbed at this growing trend in movies that if they aren’t over two hours long, they aren’t worth making. Tell the story already, don’t hold us hostage.

    7. Sean Kinsell says:

      Well, in my experience, all movies about People Who Are Afraid to Show Their Feelings move along with all the celerity of the average glacier. It may be that there’s a tendency for prestige movies in general to get longer, I suppose; I haven’t really noticed one. But filmmakers who are addressing emotional repression seem to have this need to shove endless frames of static stuff at you.

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