Queens in jeans?
Bareback Mountain? Buttfuck Mountain? Steers n’ Queers? Homos on the Range?
Has there ever been a movie that invited more witticisms?1 In fact, Brokeback should be called “The Importance of Being Earnest” or “Everything You Know About Queers Is Wrong!”
Queers aren’t manly? Hey, these guys wear cowboy hats!2 They drive pickup trucks! They ride horses! They tie knots! They shoot elk! They eat red meat!3 They drink whiskey straight from the bottle. No blue martinis need apply!
Queers aren’t virile? Hell, old Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) pops out two girls without even trying! Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) corrals himself a rodeo queen4 just sittin’ at a bar and havin’ a beer!
Queers can’t fight? Ennis kicks the shit out of a couple of Hells Angels heteros for talking trash in front of his little girls at a Fourth of July picnic.5
And when Jack’s self-appointed “stud duck” father-in-law tries to challenge Jack’s authority with his own son, Jack puts the wood to the old fart and makes him shrivel, even though Big Daddy is Jack’s boss.6
Brokeback Mountain isn’t a bad film. It’s not dated, not to say comatose, at birth, like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? , or farcically bad, like Blue Lagoon.7 But it’s too elegiac — too many “grand” shots of gorgeous mountain scenery, too many rushing streams, too many crackling camp fires, too much austere, understated solo acoustic guitar on the soundtrack.8 The heteros, while not screaming caricatures, are too predictable — the men are callous, domineering bullies, while the women are just kind of whiny and boring.
There are times when the film catches the pinched, lonely life of the Great American West — the two Del Mar girls playing in their “yard,” barely large enough to contain their tiny swing set. Yeah, the scenery’s great, but it don’t pay no bills.
Ennis Del Mar is a believable character study, a furiously withdrawn man who’s always escaping into his “work” — whose only real attraction is that it makes no emotional demands on him. He certainly isn’t getting rich. He runs away from his teenage daughter Alma (Kate Mara), whose straight hair and deadpan phiz strongly suggest that she’s fixin’ to be a lesbian, as fast as he runs away from Jack.9
The ending, showing Ennis exploring the bare, empty boyhood room of his dead lover, is touching. Here is where he grew up, here is where he dreamed, and now all his dreams are over. The experience gives Ennis the strength to connect with his daughter, in a not-too convincing scene when she shows up to announce her engagement, tossing her hair and flashing a movie-star smile.10
The week before I went to see Brokeback Mountain, there was a leather man convention here in Washington, DC. (Either that or the Young Republicans are acting out again.) When I left the film, instead of aging southern white girls with lacquered hair, lacquered nails, and four rings on each hand, I saw women of all races and nationalities, all quite comfortable with their sexuality, or at least their belly buttons.11 Sometimes, things happen even before Hollywood makes a movie about them.
Brokeback Mountain is, inescapably, one of those films where even the hype is about the hype. In my opinion, guyskissing.com is never going to replace chickskissing.com. By the time Hollywood is willing to make an avowed blockbuster film around two guys in love, even gays won’t care. And I’m not sure when, if ever, the “gay Brad Pitt” will ever have Brad Pitt’s career. The tagline for Brokeback is “Love is a Force of Nature.” We humans stopped doing “Nature” 50,000 years ago, when we learned to talk good and paint pretty pictures on a wall. Ever since we started cultivating crops, it’s been totally downhill. The Garden of Eden is closed, to straights and gays alike.12
- Millionaire shock-jock (and convicted felon and former coke head) Don Imus has contributed “Fudgepack Mountain,” claiming that the film “lacks resonance with the real cowboys I know.” Fudgepack Mountain? Isn’t that what happens to you when you use a word like “resonance” in a bunkhouse? [↩]
- The old line about cowboy hats — they’re like hemorrhoids, because sooner or later, every asshole gets one — is so trite, yet so true! All too often, living the myth simply makes you look like a schmuck. [↩]
- Presumably, they butcher elk too, but I’m guessing that no one, straight or queer, wanted to see that one. [↩]
- Anne Hathaway (as Lureen, right) whose magnificent breasts supply the one moment of hetero heaven in this flick. [↩]
- After Ennis finishes kicking butt, Lee shows him for a split-second standing tall and sturdy as an oak while skyrockets explode in the background. Queers are as American as apple pie! If this shot had lasted a half second longer, my rating for Brokeback would have fallen from a C to a D-. [↩]
- Jack and Ennis are so “straight” that if they ever actually did anything gay, like whistle a show tune or whip up a quiche, the audience would explode with laughter. [↩]
- Yeah, but Blue Lagoon did have Brooke Shields young and naked. Talk about your eye candy! [↩]
- Which, I confess, is a lot better than austere, understated tinkly piano. Hey, I’m giving it a C! [↩]
- Naturally, the more Ennis runs away, the more Jack and Alma run after him. Thanks to that ongoing neurosis we call human nature, there’s no better way to inspire affection than to withhold it. [↩]
- Lesbians take note! Want to help daddy get in touch with his feelings? Just turn yourself into a glamour girl and land a man! It’s that easy! [↩]
- Thank you, Britney Spears! Others may laugh, but I at least am grateful. [↩]
- On the other hand, BB Mountain did allow SNL’s Tina Fey to make fun of Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s sissy-boy southern accent. So the film can’t be considered a complete waste of time. [↩]