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Ban this filth!

HD DVD

Two new HD DVDs entered the house today: Lyris picked up a copy of the deliriously awful The Mummy Returns, while I received a review copy of Brokeback Mountain, the movie once referred to by my charming grandfather (who struggles with the concept of multi-racial relationships, let alone same-sex ones) as “the poofter cowboy film”. Unfortunately, neither are particularly impressive examples of the format: both look somewhat soft and slightly edge enhanced, with Brokeback Mountain faring the worst, especially in the first half (the detail levels seem to improve at around the half-way point). Indeed, it’s probably the only high definition title I’ve seen so far where at times I found myself thinking “This almost looks like a really good standard definition DVD.”

But what of the film itself? It garnered three Oscars, including Best Director, and a plethora of adulation. As is so often the case, the answer is good, but not as good as the praise would lead you to believe. However, first and foremost I think something should be cleared up: in this so-called “gay cowboy movie”, neither one of the two main characters is gay, and they herd sheep, not cows. However, “bisexual sheepboy movie” doesn’t have quite the same zing to it, so I can see why the less factually correct pseudonym became the generally accepted one. When it was initially released, many viewers and critics remarked, with both surprise and admiration, that, despite featuring a relationship between two men, this wasn’t a “gay” movie. I think I know what they mean: it doesn’t treat the gender of the pair as particularly remarkable (although that’s not to say that the social stigma attached to it is never an issue). “It could just as well have been a man and a woman,” many people said. And that, for me, is both the film’s strength and its weakness. Yes, it’s impressive to see a Hollywood movie treat this sort of subject matter with respect, but at the same time, make one of the two cowboys a woman and I strongly doubt that it would have attracted nearly as much attention (although the scene in which they beat each other up might have raised some eyebrows). This is a rather conventional tale of forbidden love, and the characters, despite offering some insight into the personas they construct for themselves in order to fit into a conservative society, are really not massively interesting. It’s all quite nicely shot and competently acted, but I don’t see this as a masterpiece by any means; on the contrary, it has a lot in common with those daytime made-for-TV “dramedies” (to borrow a word I detest) that Channel 5 shows most afternoons.

 
Posted: Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 7:00 PM | Comments: 2
Categories: Cinema | HD DVD

 
Comments

1.

I don't think one can call the cowboys, or sheepboys, "bisexual" at all. I've never read the original short story, which I asume goes more deep into their minds, but please note the film takes place in 1963. "Bisexuality" from what I gather is when someone is attracted to both sexes, and I think there is very little evidence to support that either of the main characters were really attracted to their wives.

There are several cases of men/women who remain married to the opposite sex for years trying to hide the fact that they are homosexual to their families, or maybe to themselves. A high evidence of this is Ennis' preference to have sex with his wife from the back, and then you understand the terror in her eyes once she realizes what is going on between Ennis and Jack.


I didn't think it was a masterpice, but a very good movie by all means and WAY ahead of Lifetime TV movies in every way (acting, music, production, cinematography, location filming, etc...).

Posted by: Marcus, January 29, 2007 9:45 PM

2.

I don’t think one can call the cowboys, or sheepboys, “bisexual” at all. I’ve never read the original short story, which I asume goes more deep into their minds, but please note the film takes place in 1963. “Bisexuality” from what I gather is when someone is attracted to both sexes, and I think there is very little evidence to support that either of the main characters were really attracted to their wives.

There are several cases of men/women who remain married to the opposite sex for years trying to hide the fact that they are homosexual to their families, or maybe to themselves. A high evidence of this is Ennis’ preference to have sex with his wife from the back, and then you understand the terror in her eyes once she realizes what is going on between Ennis and Jack.

I think you could quite possibly be right in the case of Ennis, although I’m less convinced about Jack, who, it is implied, has had an affair with a woman. Obviously it’s not conclusive, but I’m not particularly inclined to read him as “totally” gay. Perhaps, though, it’s all beside the point, and attaching labels to them doesn’t really serve any particular purpose.

Posted by: Whiggles, January 29, 2007 10:34 PM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:

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