28 December 2005

brokeback mountain...

I have not written anything about the movie Brokeback Mountain on purpose. I saw it two weeks ago when it first came out in Chicago. I also have read the short story - three times.

The reason I have not written is because I saw the movie with an audience that was 95-99% gay and I wanted to see it again with an audience that is at least 95% straight. I want to see the differences in reaction. [I thought I was going to do that tonight at a suburban theatre with a friend, but I have the plague. It's what happens when you spend Christmas with a 2-year old, 4-year old, and 5-year old. They carry diseases you thought you could never catch.]

My main reasons for wanting to do it this way are first to see if there is a major different overall reaction between the audiences and second to discover why the gay audience laughed at very inappropriate moments in the movie. They were powerfully sad moments and the laughter was not nervous laughter or surprise laughter as when something unexpected happens in a movie. They were amused at what was happening.

So, I decided to make some comments now while I have thoughts fresh in my mind and then post again after seeing it with a straight audience. It could also give me a different impression because I have spent a lot of time thinking about Brokeback Mountain.

My own personal reaction, though it is skewed because of my take on the short story, is extremely positive. I really, really didn't like the short story. Not even re-reading it the week before I saw the movie. I think it is very poorly written contrary to everyone else's thoughts and not deserving of the O'Henry award and another it received. It is actually too long for a short story and too short for a novella. It is lacking in a cohesive character development.

Before anyone comments that a short story can be limited because of its length, I have to offer up O'Henry's The Ransom of Red Chief. You know exactly what all the characters are like in that story. You feel their dilemmas, especially because of your attraction and repulsion for Red Chief! You can't have character development better than this.

Ennis Del Mar comes across as an ass in the Brokeback short story in my opinion. He knows what he wants; he doesn't know what he wants; he treats Jack like a jerk; he treats Jack as the most important thing in his life; he treats his wife like a nothing; his family is everything to him. Heath Ledger, in the movie, adds the depth and dimension lacking in the story. You know where the conflict is coming from within him

Jack Twist is not a gay man in the story but a victim of circumstance right until the very end. He knows what he wants and he knows he can't have it. He realizes that he can have no control over anyone but himself. In the movie, Jake Gyllenhall gives Jack the personality he needs.

Ennis and Jack become two very believeable characters.

These two actors give the movie, along with Ang Lee's direction and Larry McMurtry's writing, what is missing in the short story. The other characters are also developed better. It is important to know about their lives away from each other and of both of their wives. The written story doesn't give as much of an insight. Because of these things the movie is tremendously better than the story. Usually, it's the other way around: the story is better than the movie.

My personal reaction to the movie did not hit during or right after I saw the movie. It hit me three days later when the impact of what is in the movie suddenly connected with my own life. Boy, did it hit! I had a breakdown that lasted all the way to work in the car. [I don't know why but breakdowns always happen to me in the car.]

I saw the hopeless situation that the two men were in and didn't know of a way out of. I also saw that the hopelessness was of their own making. Jack has a way out, but Ennis stops it, or, rather, can't imagine it. Yes, it does have to do with the time that the story takes place [1963-83] but there are stories of people who took the route in spite of it. [I'm being vague on purpose for anyone who has not seen it yet. I DO recommend everyone see it to make their own decisions.]

As a consequence, I saw the hopeless situations I had put myself into by not realizing that I had innumerable possibilities. Though I now know of these possibillities, I still can put myself into the hopelessness. All of us can. Knowing something and action are two different things. Everyone knows how to lose weight - diet and exercise. However, knowing about it doesn't lose the weight. Actually doing it is a completely different thing.

The passage of time is very important to the story but it does not come across too well in the written version. The movie uses it to the fullest advantage. Just seeing the 80's Jack is to see how time has affected the two men. The aging on Ennis is done without make-up, as far as I can tell. Ledger's transformation in the movie is remarkable, especially since you know it is from all of the torment Ennis created for himself.

This is an extremely personal movie. It is a love story as the reviews and commentaries say. Everyone can identify with something in the movie, even if it is the scenery that is stupendous. [We have spent the last two vacations at the site of the filming, actually arriving right after the filming completed.]

As far as the sex, the AFA and Pat Robertson have nothing to worry about. The gay sex is practically non-existent. There is a lot of rolling around and liplocking, but only one time that there is no doubt what is going on. The sex that is prevalent is all straight boobie sex with Jack's and Ennis' wives. The gay audience had very little reaction to it. The AFA and Robertson should be shocked by this not the gay theme.

What had the greatest affect on me the most were the simple unspoken thoughts, the holding, the caressing, the cuddling and the quiet moments between Ennis and Jack. These moments spoke volumes about what was going on. It was not a sex movie; it was a loving, compassionate story between two men who knew what was important to them but couldn't act. These moments are what life, romance and uniting are all about, not the sex, and it is broadcast very well in my opinion.

Academy Awards? I leave that to the politicking in Hollywood. Brokeback Mountain is a movie that was ready to be made, to be seen, to be discussed and finally with which to be identified. No matter who you are. It is a step in the right direction.

A hint: there is a symbol mentioned more than once in the movie that is very important. It is also talked about in the short story. It is important because it answers a question that is not explored deeply in the short story but holds the crux to Ennis' actions. The film has a much better handle on it.

As an aside, I can't get over the music either. It all fit so beautifully and added to the movie at all the right moments and you weren't even aware of it. The album is wonderful.

25 December 2005

Merry, merry...

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor,

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

I really do believe that there is a Santa Claus. It makes no sense to believe in the president, the pope, or any of the other stories if you don't believe in Santa Claus. They hold no hope. Santa Claus is full of hope. As the native American Hopi adage goes, "When hope is gone life is over."

Lately, it sure seems like hope is going, if not yet gone. We are hit in the forehead daily with dismal news from around the world and in our country. People are hated just for being who they are. People are not trusted because of their familial background. People are dismissed because of who they love. People are diminished because of what they believe.

Usually, all of this is done in the name of some god. A god who is usually acknowledged as all-forgiving, all-loving, and all-enclusive. Believers of these gods spout off on beliefs and add their own, "Yes, but..." None of their gods have a "Yes, but..." in the theology. Righteousness is not an attribute of very many gods, but their followers are filled with it.

Santa Claus has no "Yes, but..." or righteousness. Santa Claus is hope and future. There is no prerequisite to believing in Santa Claus. No one has to swear to his "truth." No one has to belong to the "right" group. No one has to love the "correct" person. Everyone is the same.

These are some of the reasons why I, at the age of 58, believe in Santa Claus. He loves me for who I am just like he loves everyone for who they are - not what they are.

...merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry!

24 December 2005

no right to complain...

George Carlin has it all right! He said that he hasn't voted in the last elections because, in his words, "They're all schmucks! All of them!" He says that he has the right to complain about what's going on in the country because he didn't vote.

Yet he hears everyone else complaining about the war, loss of privacy, the economy.... He says, "You don't have the right to complain. You voted for the assholes!"

I'm beginning to believe he's right. You might say, "I didn't vote for Bush. I voted for Kerry." That doesn't make any difference. You and I didn't work hard enough to keep the country safe.

Bush and his minions say everything that they are doing is to keep the country safe. I don't feel safe now that I know that they have been monitoring all communications. The scariest part is that they feel that they are perfectly right in doing everything they are doing.

What they are doing is destroying the Consitution! This man is now worse than Richard Nixon. He believes he's above the law. he believes that he has broad powers. He has betrayed the conservative right, the liberal left and eveyone in between the two.

The pictures of him wearing a crown were a joke. Now I'm not so sure.

George bush Crown

Clinton just stained the carpet. Bush is spitting on the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the people of the United States.

Where are the cries for impeachment?

just asking...

22 December 2005

misproven intelligent design...

I have the definitive proof that intelligent design has absolutely no basis.


no one intelligent would ever have designed puberty.

think about it...