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Two writers on the film adaptation of Brokeback Mountain.

Brokeback Mountain

Men in Love: Is Brokeback Mountain a gay film? by David Leavitt. Excerpted:

Indeed, with the one exception of the scene in Juarez, nothing in Brokeback Mountain cries “gay.” Neither of the heroes eschews sex with women; instead, they simply assert that they prefer sex with each other. At one point in the story, Ennis asks Jack, “This happen a other people?” and Jack answers, “It don’t happen in Wyomin and if it does I don’t know what they do, maybe go to Denver.” Interestingly, McMurtry and Ossana leave this lone mention of possible urban refuge out of the movie, the point of which seems to be less to subvert the conventions of male bonding than to extend them. “Lover” isn’t a word Ennis and Jack ever utter. Instead they call each other “friend.” When they kiss, their teeth hit. Respect for some burdensome ideal of masculine struggle underlies and at the same time undercuts their ability to love each other: an idea that Ledger in particular brings home by investing his performance with the deadpan, reticent tenderness of Hollywood Western stars from the 1950s. His stoicism drives the movie, and nowhere more movingly than when he utters its signature line: “If you can’t fix it you’ve got to stand it.”

The Magic Mountain by Andrew Holleran. Excerpted:

Another discrepancy: most gay stories, critics have pointed out, are urban, and it is ironic that a story about two men who marry, have kids, and ride horses for a living should have such an impact on gay men who have done none of these things. Brokeback Mountain is a very butch addition to the tradition of The Boys in the Band. (When was the last time you slept with a man who beat up bikers for talking dirty in front of his wife and daughters?) The New Yorker went so far as to say the “gay cowboy movie” was neither gay nor a western. One gay male friend, and two women who reviewed the movie in The Washington Post and The City Paper, said the movie had not convincingly portrayed the passion on which the story was based. Gene Shalit called Jack a “sexual predator.” Then there were the jokes. The idea of two cowboys in love apparently made the culture nervous. How else to explain the wisecracks that followed the movie by Jay Leno almost every night, David Letterman’s “Ten ways to tell if a cowboy is gay” list, the Times’ clumsy parody that turned Jack and Ennis into two queens in The Sound of Music? Finally, there was the cartoon in The New Yorker showing two lovers in a bedroom, one handing a cowboy hat to the other, who says, “And what if I don’t want to be Jack or Ennis?”

Posted in Arts and Literature.


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