Palimpsest  

Go Back   Palimpsest > Reviews > Film Reviews


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 13th Jan 2006, 10:20   #11
amner
Administrator
is beyond help
 
amner's Avatar
 
Join Date: 10 Apr 2003
Location: Cambridge
Posts: 10,918
Default Re: Brokeback Mountain

Here's a question I've always been too embarassed to ask (and it's not about gay cowboys): how does one pronounce 'Proulx'?
__________________
amner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jan 2006, 10:22   #12
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,735
Default Re: Brokeback Mountain

I say 'Proo' (but not out loud...)
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jan 2006, 10:25   #13
Digger
Senior Palimpsester
has the freedom of Palimp City
 
Digger's Avatar
 
Join Date: 14 Sep 2004
Location: Oxford
Posts: 3,417
Send a message via MSN to Digger
Default Re: Brokeback Mountain

I sort of thout Prou, like the first bit of proud, but like Col, not to anyone out loud!
__________________
'Don't grow up, just find a bigger playground'
Annie Proulx- Barkskins

Book list | Flickr
Digger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jan 2006, 10:44   #14
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,735
Default Re: Brokeback Mountain

Here's the Sutcliffe review:
Quote:
Annie Proulx’s short story BM is a masterpiece of understatement, its subterranean fire fuelled by “years of things unsaid and now un-sayable” as Proulx puts it in the story’s most heartbreaking line. Ang Lee’s film BM by contrast is an object lesson in tactical muteness – a work that is sometimes silent when it should speak and at other times chatters nervously when it should be silent. And it’s only when you compare their silences closely that you can see how wildly overpraised the film has been as an act of liberal courage.
I wouldn’t want to argue that BM is a bad film. There are so few Hollywood films that are as good that it would be foolishly indulgent to dismiss this one casually. It seemed a little self-righteous to me – and solemnly over-protracted when the very core of the thing is brevity and speed (“the brilliant charge of their couplings was darkened by the sense of time flying, never enough time, never enough”) but it undoubtedly achieves something of the story’s deep ache in its final scene, when the grieving Ennis finds his dead lover’s shirt hanging on a rail, nested touchingly inside his own.
It’s only fair as well to concede that a film director (and screenwriter) has some problems that a writer does not. In one sense, for instance, Proulx’s story contains no awkward silences at all. It’s composed of words, and they never stop until the story does. In any case we’re used to the fact that the voice of the writer occasionally replaces the voice of characters, so we don’t fret when the latter fall silent. On screen, on the other hand, a long silence makes itself felt with particular force. When Jack and Ennis first meet, waiting outside the office of the man who hires them, their wordlessness acquires a tension simply because we expect actors to talk when they share a screen with each other.
Similarly, Proulx is able to insinuate in ways that a film-maker cannot .She writes “He looked away from Jack’s jaw, bruised blue from the hard punch Ennis had thrown him on the last day”, and leaves us to ponder what the punch was about. Ang Lee, on the other hand, has to show the punch being thrown and craft some dialogue to lead up to it, or risk us mistaking this unexplained contusion as some kind of continuity error. Where Proulx can hint in passing at the consolations Jack found for his long separations from Ennis (“He had some money now and found ways to spend it on his buying trips”), Lee must interpolate a scene in which Jack cruises rent boys in Mexico, so that what was marginal becomes central.
But that said, there are differences between the story and the film that point to another kind of problem. The most pointed of them concerns two excisions from the story’s quoted dialogue – rather odd when you consider that virtually every line spoken in Proulx’s story finds its way on to screen in some form or another. The first occurs when Jack and Ennis first have sex. The act takes place without any verbal preliminaries but at the critical moment Jack mutters “Gun’s goin’ off”, which is the sort of thing that might put any first-time sexual partner off their stroke. But it’s funny too, which is, I take it, why you won’t hear it in the film. Because whatever else gay sex is in Hollywood, it isn’t fun or lighthearted, and it must never, never be bathetic. Jack and Ennis are presented her as suffering their passion, not enjoying it – and although there is some sanction for this in the story, the sense of being seized and slammed into intimacy is even stronger on screen.
The other cut – one might almost go so far as to call it an expurgation – occurs when Jack and Ennis meet again after a four-year break. After a kiss that draws blood (that is in Proulx) Ennis says “Little darlin’”, using an all-purpose endearment that he also employs for horses and his daughters. Why no “Little darlin’” on screen? Because, I’m guessing, the makers of the film felt that audiences still aren’t ready for man-to-man tenderness – rather than the customised man-to-man combat which is the film’s main model for gay sex.
Indeed, the film-makers are so nervous that their leads might be seen as emasculated that they invent two new scenes, in which both Jack and Ennis demonstrate that they haven’t turned cissy just because they like kissing each other. Jack faces down his bullying father-in-law, and Ennis beats up a foul-mouthed biker. And at these points it isn’t the characters that protest too much but the film itself, spilling into explicit statement when the brave and the true thing to do would have been to leave the thing unsaid.
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jan 2006, 10:54   #15
HP
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
 
Join Date: 2 Dec 2004
Posts: 2,929
Default Re: Brokeback Mountain

Hmm. Last night I didn't get to bed till terribly late, so I only managed to read about half the Proulx story (thanks Maggie - your prompt sent me searching my bookshelves and I found a copy of Close Range that's been sitting there neglected for yonks, so I got stuck in). But while I like Proulx's style enormously - her laconic, hard-hitting, rather bleak delivery - I'm afraid it feels very much like a mere synopsis when set alongside the glorious richness of Ang Lee's film. Rather like comparing a skeleton to a fully-fleshed living body.

I saw Brokeback Mountain without having read a single review or having even glanced at Proulx's short story - and I'm very glad I did it that way. It left me free to judge the film on its own merits entirely, without prejudice or preconceptions - and as you can see from my review - it knocked me for six. As to those carps made by your chap in the Indy - pardon my French, but to most of them I must cry: bollocks! For a start, the sex is anything but unnecessarily obvious or gratuitous. In fact, my admiration for Ang Lee's handling of the physicality of this love story knows no bounds - he neither avoided the issue, nor overplayed it. And this ties in with the Indy fella's nonsense not making gay relationships seem normative (what a ghastly word, that is too!): well, this makes me angry. For god's sake, the film is a love story - it is not a vehicle for promoting the right-on aspects of homosexuality. By avoiding any drum-banging and simply addressing himself to telling the story of two people falling in love - albeit two men - Ang Lee makes homosexual love seem as affecting and moving as any heterosexual relationship - which is how it should be. As to the dialogue - well the screenplay is written by Larry McMurtry, who won the Pulitzer prize some years ago for his novel, Lonesome Dove. From what I've read so far of Proulx's little tale, it's apparent he's stuck pretty faithfully to her story - lifting much of the speech straight off her page. Whether he's missed a couple of speeches or not, I wouldn't know having only read half the story, but I couldn't fault his work at all. There wasn't a word or line that jarred and that didn't seem entirely befitting to the characters who uttered them.

So in summary, I'd strongly urge you to forget the reviews, forget any preconceptions you might have about the subject matter and just go see. It's pure gold.
HP is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jan 2006, 11:03   #16
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,735
Default Re: Brokeback Mountain

Quote:
Originally Posted by HoneyPotts
normative (what a ghastly word, that is too!)
It's my ghastly word, I'll admit - I'm sure TS wouldn't stoop to use it. And the point of the film is nothing to do with re-addressing gay stereotypes, I agree; but I think the omission of those relaxed expressions of intimacy and the additonal reinforcement of a macho aspect do say something about the choices made by the screenwriters. I'd say exactly the same of lines that could have easily been left in (but weren't) in fanciful, popcorn films like Harry Potter, or lines missed out or misattributed in Pride and Prejudice. And I only reproduce the Sutcliffe article here because it's an interesting counter (though not a panning) to the wholly glowing reviews from newspapers/critics so far - and I will no doubt love the film and weep buckets at the end, when I get to see it.
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jan 2006, 11:15   #17
John Self
Administrator
suffers from smallness of vision
 
John Self's Avatar
 
Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
Location: Belfast
Posts: 15,939
Default Re: Brokeback Mountain

Quote:
Originally Posted by amner
how does one pronounce 'Proulx'?
I too say Proo.

As for Honey preferring (so far!) the film to the story, I suspect it's one of those things where you will prefer it in whichever medium you first encountered it.
__________________
Reading Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate | Asylum | Book List
John Self is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jan 2006, 11:20   #18
HP
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
 
Join Date: 2 Dec 2004
Posts: 2,929
Default Re: Brokeback Mountain

Much though I'm against tit-for-tatting, and having just urged Palimpsters to ignore reviews and go find out for themselves what a wow this little gem is, I'm afraid in view of Col's reservations, I can't resist posting up James Christopher's thoughts from The Times.


Film
The TimesJanuary 05, 2006
Screen

Brokeback Mountain
By James Christopher
15, 134mins

Ang Lee films bear such scant resemblance to each other that it is hard to believe that they were fashioned by the same man. Brokeback Mountain is as far removed from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as it is possible to get. There is not a single splashy effect in this bony western, yet it is easily the most affecting cinema the Asian auteur has made.
Set in the hills of Wyoming in 1963, Brokeback Mountain tells the story of two young drifters who are hired to tend sheep in frigid isolation. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal are chalk-and-cheese loners, and the Oscar for Best Actor is within reach of both.
Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Ledger) barely speak a word for weeks on end. The camaraderie is as basic as their duties. One of them sleeps with the sheep, the other fries the beans. The entertainment is a mouth organ and a slug of whisky.
A freezing night sparks the guilty drama. Jack invites Ennis to share his tent. He places Ennis’s hand on his crotch and they squirm in frantic intimacy. The square-jawed Ennis wants to forget the sex ever happened. He aims to get married in November.
“That was a one-shot thing,” he mumbles. He narrows his eyes, lowers his Stetson, and trots back to the sheep. This is an unlikely cue for an epic Hollywood love story. But romances are rarely this touching, and westerns rarely this believable. The salty melodrama is how the two ranch hands fail to cope with their taboo feelings. When summer breaks, the two men are forced to part like strangers. The denial is heartbreaking.
What makes the split so painful is the way the film plays with real fire: the evasion, the fear of discovery, and rampant homophobia. Randy Quaid is terrific as the sour local boss who accidentally sees far more of the boys than he is prepared to stomach.
The miserable business of scraping a wage pushes Ennis and Jack to distant states. Years pass. Yet the romance somehow survives, mostly as a long-distance itch the two men can scratch only when they meet for “fishing trips” on Brokeback Mountain.
Repression and jealousy gnaw the marital knots they tie with Michelle Williams (as Ledger’s bitter, knowing wife) and Anne Hathaway (Gyllenhaal’s wealthy Texas squeeze). Ledger’s need to keep up appearances and Gyllenhaal’s desire to come clean, are the poisonous sticking points.
Lee wrings pure melancholy out of what might have been. The performances are magnetic. The framing scenes — Williams silently crying into her cup of coffee as Ledger packs for another male-only camping trip; Gyllenhaal seeking paid solace in the dingy streets of El Paso — are immaculately shot.
What makes the film so fresh is not the modest story, but the combination of ingredients: the period, the people, the language, the big weather. Every secret inch squeaks with authenticity. Lee uses his perspective as an “outsider” to paint the most impressive and bleak portrait of postwar rural life in the American West I’ve ever seen.

Edit: Col - I owe you an apology. Somehow I managed to miss that last paragraph of yours which threw an entirely different complexion on my reading of your past. Have therefore deleted my cheeky dig about not commenting until you've seen. Mucho sorryo, sister!
HP is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jan 2006, 11:37   #19
Colyngbourne
Administrator
is beyond help
 
Colyngbourne's Avatar
 
Join Date: 30 Apr 2003
Location: England
Posts: 10,735
Default Re: Brokeback Mountain

How I feel about this film is that I've read several rave reviews in newspapers and film magazines, and on film websites like Empire and Roger Ebert, and on a number of friends' blogs, both UK and US, and this was the first review that had said something *slightly* critical about it, and with which I agree in principle, in so far as I have not watched the film yet but have read the story. In the last ten minutes I have caught up with today's blogs of friends and two have said they hated it (though they loved the book) and slated the screenplay in particular. So, so far I am just taking in lots of opinions and I have yet to formulate a judgement: it's the same for anyone who reads the film pages of their newspaper before going to see a film - they will have formed some impression of what they think of it, before they see it, and that's okay.

I think John's point about the book v. film is another good point, but I won't *decide* whether I approve of the book or film most until I see the film. I may love both utterly equally and think any criticism misplaced. So you're right that I can't have formed a proper judgement yet: I haven't - I'm still information-gathering and sifting. Personally, as with books, I like to get a balanced view of how other people have regarded a thing, whether or not I get to see/read it in the first month of its release or even years later.

ETA: just saw your last para as well, HP I do want to see the film asap and be able to confirm everything you and the Timesian man said.
__________________
Currently reading: The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins | My reading list | My film list

Last edited by Colyngbourne; 13th Jan 2006 at 11:55.
Colyngbourne is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13th Jan 2006, 11:49   #20
maxivida
Palimpsestarian
is a palimpsestin' fool!
 
maxivida's Avatar
 
Join Date: 4 Aug 2003
Location: Germany
Posts: 510
Send a message via ICQ to maxivida Send a message via MSN to maxivida
Default Re: Brokeback Mountain

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self
As for Honey preferring (so far!) the film to the story, I suspect it's one of those things where you will prefer it in whichever medium you first encountered it.
Why? Do you think that the movie couldn't be better than the story? I also liked the story, but with a director of Ang Lee's calibre, I am ready to believe that he managed to surpass it. Her rough, minimalistic style works wonders on paper, but visual art operates on another level, and what would be the point of making a film based on a story if its only aim was to literally translate literature into another form? The additions and interpretations that need to be made so that a film can function as a separate work of art, are the main challenge that the film-maker undertakes. Judging from Lee's previous work, he has shown that he can paint with great sensitivity and delicacy on huge canvasses - so I'd say, he's definitely able to pull it off. Whether he did or not, I won't be able to say until I've seen the film.
__________________
Flickr

maxivida is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply



Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Full Oscar nominations list amner General Chat 8 24th Jan 2008 14:21
Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain rick green Book Reviews 23 14th Jan 2006 16:50
Cold Mountain Colyngbourne Film Reviews 0 15th Aug 2004 7:55


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 11:53.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.