Skip to comments.USCCB reviews Brokeback Mountain ["The universal themes of love and loss ring true. ..."]
Posted on 12/14/2005 11:22:00 PM PST by Antioch
"Brokeback Mountain" the much publicized "gay cowboy love story" adapted from a New Yorker magazine piece by Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Proulx, arrives at last, and the film itself -- a serious contemplation of loneliness and connection -- belies the glib description.
While it is the story of an intimate relationship, more to the point it's the relationship of two emotionally scarred souls. Ranch hands Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) share a sheepherding assignment on a mountain in Signal, Wyo., in 1963. Ennis is a man of few words; Jack is somewhat more open.
Their friendship gradually grows despite Ennis' taciturn manner. At first, it's only Jack who sleeps in the camp near the sheep (with Ennis ensconced down the mountain), but come to realize it is more practicable to guard the sheep in tandem. Ennis resolutely insists he'll sleep outdoors, but the cold drives him into Jack's tent, where the two awkwardly, then roughly, have sex. Incidentally, that scene -- short and with the men mostly clothed -- is the only onscreen gay sexual encounter in the film.
In the morning, both are too embarrassed to talk about what has transpired, but a bond has formed, and we are led to understand that the relationship has deepened. Later, some outdoor wrestling is observed by their boss, the unsympathetic rancher Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid), who watches them with a knowing eye. At the end of the season, they come down from the mountain, and dismissing what happened on the mountain as a "one-shot deal," go their separate ways. Ennis is engaged to Alma (Michelle Williams, Ledger's real-life girlfriend). But we see him crumple in despair as soon as he's alone. The first human connection he's had is coming to an end.
Jack, for his part, makes a tentative attempt to pick up an Ennis-like cowboy in a bar, but eventually meets former prom queen Lureen (Anne Hathaway). Both men marry and have children. Time goes by, and Jack sends a postcard to Ennis telling him he's coming to town. The air is rife with anticipation as Ennis waits for the reunion. When Jack finally drives up, the unexpressive Ennis can barely contain his excitement, and rushes out to meet him.
They embrace passionately, not realizing that Alma is sadly viewing the interaction from behind the screen door. She says nothing, but understands all. On the trip, Jack proposes that they chuck their families and buy a ranch, but Ennis -- who as a child witnessed the aftermath of a hate-crime murder of two rancher neighbors who had lived together -- can't bring himself to do it.
Thereafter, Ennis and Jack initiate meeting several times a year for "fishing" trips where they can be alone together. Lureen, for her part, senses the importance of these trips to her husband, but remains engrossed in her own business. As the Catholic Church makes a distinction between homosexual orientation and activity, Ennis and Jack's continuing physical relationship is morally problematic.
The adulterous nature of their affair is another hot-button issue. But the pain Jack and Ennis cause their families is not whitewashed. (The women are played with tremendous sympathy, not as shrill harridans.) It's the emotional honesty of the story overall, and the portrayal of an unresolved relationship -- which, by the way, ends in tragedy -- that seems paramount.
Director Ang Lee tells the story with a sure sense of time and place, and presents the narrative in a way that is more palatable than would have been thought possible. Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana's screenplay uses virtually every scrap of information in Proulx's story, which won a National Magazine Award, and expands it while remaining utterly true to the source.
The performances are superb. Australian Ledger may be the one to beat at Oscar time, as his repressed manly stoicism masking great vulnerability is heartbreaking, and his Western accent sounds wonderfully authentic. Gyllenhaal is no less accomplished as the more demonstrative of the pair, while Williams and Hathaway (the latter, a far cry from "The Princess Diaries," giving her most mature work to date) are very fine.
Looked at from the point of view of the need for love which everyone feels but few people can articulate, the plight of these guys is easy to understand while their way of dealing with it is likely to surprise and shock an audience.
Except for the initial sex scene, and brief bedroom encounters between the men and their (bare breasted) wives, there's no sexually related nudity. Some outdoor shots of the men washing themselves and skinny-dipping are side-view, long-shot or out-of-focus images. While the actions taken by Ennis and Jack cannot be endorsed, the universal themes of love and loss ring true.
The USSCB needs to be disbanded...yesterday. They are worse than useless. They actually do harm and cause scandal to the faithful.
I suggest that the reviewer has issues the reviewer needs to consider before reviewing things...like Catholic teaching.
The president of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, will be on Scarborough Country tonight. I called the League this morning and was told I was the first one to complain about the USCCB review, so if anyone is interested please call the Catholic League and let them know that you hope that Mr. Donohue addresses this matter in his TV appearance and website. They did suggest that I call my Bishop, which I intend to do. Please do the same. I would never ever have thought that this movie would get an L rating from the USCCB.Ever.
That's for sure.
It also should have gotten a rating of RSA-p (racist, sexist, anti-police). Same ole formula: weak non-minority male gets straightened out by the strong, good, smart, balanced, sane minority males and women (especially minority women) while police are all sexist, racist, non-minority thugs.
Typical Sleazywood fare.
Um, chae? That is every bit as sick and wrong as male homoerotics. If your boyfriend seriously finds lesbian sex scenes attractive, then his sexuality has been distorted by the porn culture. It isn't healthy for men to relate to women that way, and it isn't even authentic to the nature of man and woman. It's a serious disorder, not a joke.
I agree. Why not an O rating ? They missed the boat on this one.
There is a lot of inconsistency among the movie reviews put out by the USCCB. If you go to their website (just Google "bishops movie reviews") You'll find that they have a review for nearly every movie ever made. Obviously there are many different reviewers that have worked on this task since no person could have seen all these movies. Many of the reviewers are not bishops themselves, they are lay Catholics. In fact I imagine that the typical bishop is too busy to be a movie critic.
In any case, there's a lot of inconsistency among the reviews, probably due to different reviewers. Some reviews are overly sensitive and end up giving an O (i.e., no one should see it at all) to movies like "Caddyshack." Other reviews are overly permissive and give a pass to movies that should clearly get an O.
Even though lay people are mostly responsible for these reviews, it is still very bad that the USCCB is putting a stamp of approval on these things. Of course given the past activities of the USCCB, this is hardly a surprise. I thought I remember hearing that Pope Benedict would like to limit the power of national bishops conferences - if so, I hope he gets cracking soon!
That is a standard response used to rebuff criticism. " Oh,but you are the only one who is complaining..." Odds are this is an absolute falsehood. One should always press the point and not accept this ( generally disingenuous) tactic.
Were it true, what difference would that make, you might ask. The peer pressure argument has gotten us where we are today as failing civilization.
>>>>Your last line is already wrong, though. It's breaking records for per-screen ticket sales, and it was such a relatively low budget that it will probably make money. Women will see this; they don't need straight men to see it.
Its only being shown on a handful of screens in the most gay activist communities. Of course its "per screen" sales are high. Try to show it somewhere outside the homosexual community and see how it does. Despite all the advertising and publicity, it will tank.
Bzzt! Wrong-o. This movie was made to get awards. That's why Ang Lee was made director. It won't make back its budget until after the Oscars. Even then, it'll be nip and tuck with overseas receipts and DVD and cable TV rights.
It should be noted that Brokeback Mountain didn't just release in 5 cities. It released in 5 theaters. That's it. Just 5. Given the targeted marketing and the size of the markets, I don't anticipate it doing well in wide release. I'm not sure that it will.
The same strategy and marketing spin was used for the horribly acted movie "Far from Heaven." As a tipoff, it too received a phalanx of five star reviews and Acadamy Award hysteria. Sure enough, it turned out to be a screed glorifying gay sex, family adandonment, and trashing the values of the 50s by equating homophobia with racism. It was pathetic. And of course, the USCCB reviewers LOVED this "insightful look at the tensions simmering below the facade of what would appear to be the ideal nuclear family..." hoping that with our "sophisticated" contemporary perspective, we would consider and hopefully reject our own prejudices."
"It won't make back its budget until after the Oscars."
The costs have already been recouped from foreign sales. The domestic gross will be pure profit.
>> While the actions taken by Ennis and Jack cannot be endorsed, <<
Doncha love it when truth slips out?
Doncha wish you could ping Papa Benedict? Something like:
"Accidental Self-Outing Ping!"
Syriana had a very comparable initial outing. It will gross about $25 million when all is said in done. It's market is much, much, much less confined to LA-SF-NY. Same goes for "Punch Drunk Love" which eventually made $17 million.
I'd compare it even more to "Melinda and Melinda," which went on to make less than $4 million.
Drudge compares it to other "Live Action" releases. Which is silly, because live action movies have never used such a release schedule, except for strictly micromarket ("art house") releases. Only Disney has ever done such releases. Compare Bareback Mountin' to Pocahontas, which made $450,000 per theater on six screens, the Lion King, which made $793,000, or even the spectuacular failure of Anastasia, which made $120,000.
Brokeback Mountain arrives at last,
"The universal themes of love and loss ring true."
What kind of sicko considers one night of anal exploitation to be "love"?
Annie Proulx. Horrible writer. threw one of her books across the room after the line "his eyes were the color of plastic"
The fact that the movie makes anal exploitation resemble love is precisely why it is so God-damned evil.
(And I'm not swearing; I mean that as I wrote it.)
Dunno if the movie itself can accurately be described as 'God-damned", but making it would seem to be the Grave Matter of which mortal sins are made ... IMO, viewing it likewise might also be an occasion of sin (in that it might lead one toward an approving view of sodomite "relationships").
OpusatFR on post 46 hit the nail on the head, and I agree. This would have been the only legitimate Catholic response to the confusion of love with sexuality. Christianity DOES have something vital to say about this matter-too bad the USCCB doesn't know what it is. It could have written a powerful and beautiful reply using JPII's "Theology of the Body." (this cultural phenomenon is precisely why he wrote it)
I'd much prefer resurrecting the former Office of the Inquisition and place the Hammer of Heretics at its helm. Better yet, place any SSPX priest at its helm, and the Hammer of Heretics (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux) as its patron.
I sent a copy of the review via e-mail to the Pope. I hope it gets there.
But that's normal for a release of this kind. We can deny it all we want, but the critical acclaim is going to make this a decent box office performance. The important thing is that that doesn't really matter much.
According to the accounting, which I know something about, this is looking to do just fine money-wise. No one can predict for sure, but this is being marketed craftily, conservative outrage included in the mix.
BBM has a budget of under $20 million. With the buzz it's getting and those admittedly preliminary per screen averages, when you add in the DVD and TV sales, this thing is probably already in profit. Not very nip and tuck when it's at or near profit before it's even opened in more than 5 theaters.
Thousands of sexually offended, furious bikers...
Can't say I'd ever want to see that...
Personally, I kinda liked the old "X" rating for queeer-movies.
The point here is the cynically predictable juvenile nature of the project. "Gay cowboys, that'll get all those middle-class prudes!" First of all, we all knew it would be a critical success before it hit the screen. Second, we all knew it would be an Oscar contender (and Golden Globe winner, bank on it) before the voters even saw it. Third, it was predicted by none other than Eric Cartman, and I am really surprised that the main press doesn't mention it.
It's the same old indy film stuff, just this time somebody's heard of the director and actors.
Now the absurdity of a lonely sheep herder turning to his male partner for sexual companionship aside (I mean, we're talking SHEEP here!) its only purpose is to be provocative.
Fine, but let's not pretend it's Shakespeare.
BTW, how am I wrong about the thing not making money until the Oscars? It hasn't cracked a mil in gross receipts (gross). DVD and TV won't come into the picture until at least the spring.
Let's see...this is a film about betrayal, deceit, lust and peverse sexuality, to mention just the overview character points, and it's being endorsed?
I can barely believe what I'm reading: the thieves are running the bank, the fox has captured the henhouse, the homosexuals have overrun this aspect to "church" opinion.
Yes, this is a film about male homosexuality and lust in full bloom, and over and over again. But, take a look at the story itself and how these two main characters continue to deceive one another, their respective families and even abandon and abuse other people (also themselves).
The ONLY thing being lauded and commended about this film is that it's a pornographic film being sold and marketed in family neighborhood theatres. THAT's what the homoseuxual and otherwise, liberal groups is lauding: that they're making a "breakthrough" attempt to bring these terrible character faults into popular acceptabilty.
They're parading very bad character traits, not to mention behaviors, as "good" and going for sympathy for same. In that, they're commending themselves, and it's a moral and ethical loss for all of us.
LOL You aren't denying anything -in fact, you are acclaiming and promoting the sick film on this very thread.
Conclusion of Review: And his Versace cowboy boots were to die for.
Any bets as to how hard it will be to find a pirated Brokeback Mountain torrent?
Shouldn't be all that difficult to figure out. All you closet types who listened to idiots who told you to "marry a nice girl, and this will go away" will be feverishly downloading anything you can about this.
Do you ever notice how those folks who say "marry some nice girl and settle down, and this will go away" to gay guys never volunteer their own daughters for that little experiment. (Wise, but morally bankrupt, people.)
Can ANYONE defend the USCCB in this case?
The reviewer is absolutely drooling over the thought of drooling over the actors *****
The Virgin Mary intimated our Age to Lucy in Fatima in 1917:
"Look, my child, don't be surprised if, at a certain moment, a certain diabolical disorientation affects the best of minds, a disequilibrium, so that they no longer judge according to the voice of my Son and of Peter."
Personally, I doubt you'll find a pirate copy of this film on the internet. All homosexual issues aside, this film looks dull, tedious, and just plain stupid.
I grew up watching cowboys played by John Wayne, Gary Cooper, and Brigadier General Jimmy Stewart. I want my cowboys to track down rustlers, fend off apaches, bust broncos, protect villages from marauding banditos, and always out draw the bad guy. I don't want to see cowboys (or shepherds billed as cowboys) sharing their feelings and tender moments. Cowboys shouldn't have feelings. They should have steely eyes and determined jaw-lines.
Haha, you got zotted.
The very phrase that rationalizes all forms of pornography.