Brokebackin'First, if you haven't seen it yet, check out this fanciful movie trailer. As has been noted on other blogs but mine, it's both hilarious, and pretty brilliantly seamless on a technical level, too. Someone did a great job there.
Second, SuperGirlfriend and I saw Brokeback Mountain yesterday, and Below There Be Spoilers. So hit that expansion link at your own risk.
Without going into a long detailed review, I enjoyed Brokeback Mountain. Of the three movies I've seen that were directed by Ang Lee, this was the first one where all the talent and skill that's been imparted to him in the past was evident to me. The movie is, for the most part, a typical Hollywood grim n' gritty forbidden love/coming of age story, with all the attendant tears and pain and tediously realistic period detail you expect from that sort of thing. The only thing that makes it different is, well, the only thing that makes it different; unlike other Forbidden Love Stories, this one really is still forbidden, not just in the period in which this movie is set, but in half or more of America today.
The film is well written and well acted, and I've already noted the deft sure handedness of Lee's direction. I especially marveled at how he managed to make every interior shot ugly -- not just the po white trash farmhouses, apartments-over-laundromats, and shanty trailers where Ennis spends most of his life, but even the rather nicer, somewhat more opulent home of the rather more affluent Jack seem constrained and airless and mean looking. This is especially true in comparison with the almost unearthly beauty of the outdoor scenes. It doesn't take great powers of analysis to understand what Lee is trying to put over here -- that only in the wilderness, outside the constraints of conventional society, can Jack and Ennis find any real happiness in their lives. Still, it's a wonderfully effective visual technique.
Making this movie acceptable to conservatives wouldn't be hard; it only requires a few slight changes towards the very end. Right up to the point where Ennis gets his post card back from Jack marked 'deceased' you could leave it absolutely the same. The only modifications would have to come in how Jack dies; instead of being beaten to death by a fag-hating lynch mob (perhaps led by his crazed ogre of a father in law), one would only need to substitute him dying a painful, lonely, miserable, abandoned and disgraceful death in some charity hospital ward from AIDS. Then, when Ennis' daughter shows up in the last ten minutes of the film to invite her daddy to her wedding, and he says he'll be there and then goes sadly into his barren shanty bedroom to stare at the postcard he has of Brokeback Mountain, and Jack's old, bloody shirt, you simply have him sit down on the bed and start to quietly cry... and then have the camera pan to an open letter on the bed, where we can see the words "diagnosis: positive" and perhaps "expected prognosis: terminal in 90 days", or something similar.
See, then, despite all the hot gay cowboy sex and the couple of fleeting titty shots, conservatives would really get behind this movie. After all, It Would Be A Film That Shows The Realistic Consequences Of An Indecent Lifestyle, something right wing critics could call "...a grimly truthful, sobering wake up call to the more licentious citizenry of our great nation".
They'd like that. They'd like it even despite the fact that as far as we know, the HIV virus didn't even exist in the mid 1970s. After all, historical accuracy, and little things like 'the truth', should never be allowed to get in the way of a good sound moral lesson about the inevitable mortal consequences of buggery.