Brokeback Mountain. I love it. I love that the leads cruise each other in the very first scene without even knowing they're doing it. I love that everybody in my theater gasped and yelled, "Oh shit!" in unision when Alma caught Ennis & Jack making out. I love that Ang Lee allows his characters to have complicated motivations and histories and desires that cannot be covered by the labels 'gay' and 'straight.' Yes, it is polite, yes, it leaves envelopes unpushed, but the encouraging fact remains that this mainstream film threatening to win several Academy awards features Heath Ledger greedily fucking Jake Gyllenhaal. As the Philly City Paper nailed it, "It's one thing to have circuit boys bang each other on the gay-fest circuit; quite another to have hot young stars cradle each other's faces at the multiplex."
Are Ennis & Jack gay, bi, or confused? The film doesn't know, and god bless it, it doesn't care. What it cares about is exploring modern American high masculinity and the toll it takes on men forced to obey its codes of emotional straightjacketing, stoicism and denial. Nobody has been able to deal intelligently with this in the last 10 years, except maybe Todd Haynes, and it needs attention now. If a couple of blow job scenes had to wind up on the cutting room floor in order for this movie to make it to screens and inspire even a handful of phobic football dudes to reexamine their asssumptions about what it means to be a man or a homo, then I say hot damn. Did we really need a gay Brown Bunny?
Snaps also to BB Mountain for the sweetest, saddest credits music of recent memory: Willie Nelson blithely queering the folkie standard "He Was A Friend of Mine" followed by her majesty Rufus Wainwright. All of us queer types in the Uptown were sitting there sniffling, "Totes, totes" through our tears.
My full film response, clarification & Foucauldian hoedown available here.