Brokeback Mountain

I’ve been biting my tongue listening to all the hype surrounding Brokeback Mountain, both before and after the Oscars, and reading what people, both gay and straight, had to say in movie reviews and on various blogs. Now that Annie Proulx has had her say, I feel a little less constrained about unleashing the hounds. So here are some random thoughts I have about our society’s reaction to Brokeback Mountain:
I find it annoying and more than a little condecending that straight people can watch a two hour movie and presume to understand and empathize with a struggle that I’ve engaged in for more than 37 years.
I’m quietly infuriated when people say they see in Brokeback Mountain “not two men in love, but the universal story of love” or something similar, or when they describe Ennis and Jack’s relationship as another example of a “universal forbidden love story that we all can related to.” Don’t get me wrong; I’m thrilled that straight people finally understand what we feel is real live love like theirs. (Although one would think that a three-year-old could have grasped that long ago, and that it shouldn’t have required a movie like this one).
But it means they’ve missed the entire and complete point of the movie — our love is not like everyone else’s love – our pain is different, and so is our triumph when we succeed. Equating gay relationships to to other forbidden loves (like bi-racial marriages in the sixties) is not an equal comparison. I’m struggling with explaining an intangible quality about gay relationships — but the best description I can give is that within our relationships, we are not complementary to each other, but reflective of each other. That intangible quality is what is so unique (in an overwhelming and often frightening way), and so real, about our relationships, and what is captured so extraordinarily in the film. It comes out best in the confrontation scene near the end of the movie, the one that was so overshadowed by the heavy “I wish I could quit you!” line that so swamps the boat and makes people forget what that scene was really about. It was that line where Ennis asks, or tries to ask, whether Jack ever feels what he does — that sense that everyone can see through him and see who he is. That is what makes this story of lost love different than everyone elses.

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Oscar Classic Movies on TCM

Beginning February 1st, Turner Classic Movies will air 360 “Oscar winner and nominee” movies, 3 per evening, until the Academy Awards (which airs March 5th). All of them are uncut and commercial free.

Of course, the criteria to qualify as an “Oscar winner or nominee” is pretty open; they’re not talking all “best picture” noms here, but including any movie that was nominated in any category. Which means that Benji and The Karate Kid are among of the selections. (I will be DVR’ing Benji, because I haven’t seen that in years.)

But there’s more than enough great films to jam up your DVR; see TCM’s list here. It’s a bit frustrating that they don’t have a single page with the complete listings to link to. Entertainment Weekly magazine has a great pull-out page with all the movies, times and air dates.

There are quite a few movies on my “to watch” lists, which is really bad considering it’s also sweeps month and the Olympics will be on, too. Good thing I have this new TV, since I’ll be parked in front of it for all of February.

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Super Size Me

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Stephanie and I finally got a chance to watch Super Size Me tonight. We had DVR’ed it last year, but never got around to watching it, and it deleted itself after awhile.
I knew the basics about the film, and we have already seen most of the first season of 30 Days. But actually seeing it was pretty eye-opening, especially some of the facts and figures. I’m going to record it to tape and keep it to watch again, because I want to go over some of the data in the film.
I’m going to bite the bullet and keep a food journal. I’ve tried that off and on over the years, but I’ve never quite made it stick, because I’d eventually get busy and forget to write stuff down, even when I was on weight watchers. I think that was the part of the WW program that was hardest for me, and what made me eventually give up on it; trying to keep track of what I ate all the time was too tough to manage. We’ll see how far I get this time.

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Brokeback Mountain does well at box office

According to the Associated Press, Brokeback Moutain is doing well at the box office in limited release, and may appeal to audiences in wide release as well. The movie is playing here at Keystone Art Cinemas at the Keystone at the Crossing mall.
We’re planning on seeing it this evening…

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Brokeback Mountain opens Wednesday, Dec. 28th

Due to the large box-office success in its limited run, the movie Brokeback Mountain will open in Indianapolis on Wednesday, December 28th at the Keystone Arts Cinema, rather than the originally scheduled mid-January release date.
Who wants to go? Stephanie and I are seeing it…

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Darwin Awards 2000

The Darwin Awards, for those not familiar, are for those individuals who contribute to the survival of the fittest by eliminating themselves from the gene pool before they have a chance to breed.

Sighting #1 (a rare "double sighting"): A friend had a brilliant idea for saving disk space. He thought if he put all his Microsoft Word documents into a tiny font they’d take up less room. When he told me I was with another friend. She thought it was a good idea too.

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On The Subject Of Feminism and The Film ‘American Beauty’

Last night I had an argument with a woman about Feminism and the movie ‘American Beauty.’ The woman – lets call her Ann – said that she had severe problems with the movie, and after giving a brief explanation of what those problems were (more on that later), and seeing that I wasn’t buying what she was selling, she shrugged the whole thing off, saying “Well, you know I’m a feminist.”

Now the more I think about that, I realize what I should have said to her. I am a Feminist. with a capital ‘F.’ In fact, I’m the best feminist I know. And yet, I disagreed with Ann strongly about this movie. And she was trying to tell me that I didn’t get her explanation because I wasn’t a feminist.
The fact is, I did ‘get’ her explanation, I just didn’t agree with it, and not because I’m not a feminist but because what she was trying to tell me wasn’t a legitimate view point.

Here’s what she was saying: she had a problem with the fact that they showed the breasts of two teenaged girls (or at least women who were protraying teenaged girls) in the movie. She didn’t see any reason why they should do that, didn’t think that it advanced the plot, and decided that it was gratuitous and therefore made the whole movie invalid.

I totally disagreed with her, but I didn’t really push my opinion, mostly because we were in someone else’s living room in a social situation, and I didn’t want to cause any more discomfort in the room than was already present. When I waved off the conversation, Ann said “well, that’s right, because you’re not going to change my mind.”

That also pissed me off – I wasn’t crying off because I realized I couldn’t change her mind – I could change her mind under the right circumstances. I just wasn’t willing to be rude to my hosts my taking over their living room while doing it. (Not that any such nicety stopped her.)

So now were in my living room, so to speak, and I’m going to hold forth on the subject. They showed the breasts of these two teenaged girls for a reason – to make a point about the image each of them had about their own bodies.

Jane Burnham, the dark-haired daughter of the movie’s protagonist, doesn’t think she’s attractive. She’s saving all her money to have breast enlargement done – something she refers to several times during the movie.

And Jane is envious of the attention her friend Angela receives. Jane’s friend Angela Hayes, a blond bombshell that catches the eye of Jane’s dad, knows darned well she’s attractive. Not only does she say so often, so does everyone else. She seems to have no problems with her body.

When you see Jane’s breasts – she’s showing them to her voyeur/boyfriend who’s filming her from his bedroom window – the first thought that crosses your mind is that there’s no way she needs to have a breast enlargement (not that anyone really does, but still). Jane had fairly large, very beautiful breasts.

Toward the end of the movie, when Angela is attempting to seduce Jane’s father, we see Angela’s breasts – and the contrast is startling; her breasts are much smaller than Jane’s; the exact opposite of the original impression I had of the two characters at the beginning of the movie, and obviously the opposite of what the characters think about themselves.

So why do these two teenagers have totally different feelings about their bodies? Jane has a distorted self-image. Part of that is based on the amount of attention she receives in contrast to her friend – she thinks that the attention is because of her friend’s physical appearance, when in reality it’s Angela’s demeanor and attitude that attract attention.

In fact the film is taking a pro-female point of view about women’s body images and the messages we give to young women about their appearance. Young women who have very normal, healthy bodies, like Jane, feel they need to alter their appearance to get attention and feel a sense of value in this world, when in reality it’s their sense of confidence in their identity and abilities that cultivate attention from other people.

I think that’s a very legitimate point to make in a movie.

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