Brokeback Mountain Crash

So I went to see Brokeback Mountain yesterday afternoon (when I should have been working on the house, yes, what of it?!), and I'm here to give my review of what is admittedly a good movie, but one which I don't think should win an Academy Award over Crash.

First and foremost, I'm tired of the hype that Brokeback is this sweeping, inspirational, epic love story. While it's true that Messrs. Twist and Delmar are obsessed with one another, to one degree or other, for a nearly twenty year span, I'm not sure that their "love story" is so great. For one thing (stop reading if you haven't seen the movie and intend to), their story has a tragic ending that is all too easy to interpret -- in my opinion -- as a sort of retributive justice toward Jack. He dies, his wife tells Ennis, while changing a tire that explodes, causing the tire rim to break his nose and jaw, drowning him in his own blood before help arrives the next morning (Ennis's flashback to the beaten-to-death-with-a-tire-iron neighbor of his childhood is just gruesome, although I understood why the vignette was inserted in his mind's eye).

But we've learned, meanwhile, that while Ennis stays faithful to Jack, with the exception of a wife and a girlfriend (both presumably necessary beards in the teensy town in which he lives), Jack not only has a relationship with a ranch foreman neighbor of his in Texas (with whom he doubly betrays Ennis by making plans to move to his parents' ranch and set up housekeeping, an offer previously made to Ennis), but also crosses the border and avails himself of the services of Mexican rent boys. He explains himself by telling Ennis that he's "not like" him, and can't help himself, can't deny himself, can't stand their separations, etc....and comes to a bad end. If that's not meant to be some sort of morality play, I'll be gosh-darned, because it's Jack who suffers and dies at 39. (Granted, Ennis suffers after Jack's death, but his suffering is alleviated by his good relationship with his daughters and his memory of Jack's love for him.)

Second, although the story in Brokeback is a moving one, it's not transformative. It didn't make me question my values or beliefs or challenge me; understandably, this could be because I don't think there's anything novel or weird about "the gays" being in love or being obsessed with each other or having a long relationship frought with conflict and obstacles, but still, there you have it. It was just a good, well-told, well-acted story, but it didn't knock me out.

Crash, on the other hand, was fantastic, and every single actor in it was on their game and living the action. It made me think about what our secret prejudices are, and how we express them or just hold them latent within ourselves, not knowing when and how they'll be manifest, and it was revelatory in terms of how we let go of our biases, and what happens to us when we do. In a cast of first-rate actors including Don Cheadle, Ryan Philippe, Terrence Howard, Thandie Newton, Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon was simply fantastic, as a jaded, surly, weary LA cop whose meanness and bigotry give way to pain and compassion, in a truly transformative performance. I was riveted by Crash, and I think it's the best movie of 2005, and it kinda pisses me off that Brokeback is a shoo-in to win Best Picture Oscar, because it simply was not the best picture. I believe that the Academy's votes will go to Brokeback so people will know how "committed" artists are to "the gays" and good moviemaking and good story-telling and great acting be damned.

What I'd rather see, and I hope to see soon, is a truly great movie* that featured a happy ending to a gay love story win an Oscar, and play in 3000 theaters across the country, and not garner any particular notice because the main characters are gay than it would if they had freckles or curly hair. I was heartened by the ensemble win for Crash at the SAG awards, and the Bafta for Thandie Newton, but I'm not holding my breath for an Oscar upset.

* Note, interestingly, that Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman is, in fact, just such a story, and was nominated for best Foreign Language Oscar in 1995, although it didn't win.


Why editors matter....

This picture was captioned "Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov of the Ukraine compete in the Pairs Short Program Figure Skating during Day 1 of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games on February 11, 2006 at the Palavela in Turin, Italy." I am fairly sure (although I would happily be wrong because maybe Bryan would enjoy figure skating more* if this were really the scene) that this is actually a picture of women's Olympic hockey.

I did LOL when I read the caption, and imagined a bit of a blamestorm at the Yahoo! news (or sports) photo desk....

* The author has been chastised for her use of the word "more" because it implies that there is (or has heretofore been) any enjoyment of figure skating whatsoever. The author apologizes profusely for this erroneous impression and would like to advise her small reading public that Bryan does not now, nor has he in the past ever, "enjoyed" figure skating viewing. Tolerated, yes; endured, yes; [not-so-silently] suffered through, yes. He is, after all, an excellent husband, as you know.
Thank you for your time.


Neil Entwistle is in custody at last!!!

I'm sad to say that I was never in any doubt as to whether Neil Entwistle was the person who'd killed Rachel and Lillian, but I'm glad they've
arrested him. I think it's laughable that he's not consenting to extradition -- good luck with that, pal -- especially since it's not like Massachusetts has a death penalty. Every story I've read suggests that his motive was financial -- not even like a big fat insurance policy or anything (which I guess could be a motive for killing the wife, but your own child???), but rather as a means of escaping debt and failure, etc. Loathesome.

On another note, imagine being Rachel Souza's mother, knowing that the weapon that killed your lovely daughter and gorgeous granddaughter was owned by your own husband, and apparently kept so casually that Neil Entwistle was able to get into the house, get it, use it, and return it, with no one the wiser. Unbelievable.

Lock up your guns, people. LOCK THEM UP. Get a gun cabinet, get trigger locks, and lock up your guns. I have no problem with gun ownership, per se (although I think the people who say it's the second amendment to the Constitution that gives us the right to do so need to read the language more carefully:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Note that it makes specific reference to a militia, and remember when it was written and ratified and what was going on at the time. It was clearly intended to allow the colonists to raise their own army to fight George III's forces, NOT for every Sam, Jorge, Latrelle and Buford to have AK47s, machine guns, or other assault weapons), but I believe you have to own guns responsibly. We've got a gun (for target and recreational shooting, I'm told), and B's brother owns guns with which he hunts, but gun lockers and trigger locks are axiomatic in every single instance. And I'm here to tell you, having grown up in just the sort of upper middle class suburb in Massachusetts as the Entwistles and Mattarazzos inhabit, you don't need a gun to defend your property or person, as would necessitate having the gun to hand at a moment's notice, so explain to me how Neil Entwistle got hold of it, and I'll be content. Well, no I won't, but I'm still curious.
This whole story was just heartwrenching to me, and every picture I see of that toothsome, cheery Gerber baby makes me cry. God keep you safe, Rachel and Lilly.


Scofflaw Spears Should Be Smacked

For all the gushing and squishy sentimentality (and posed photo ops) Britney Spears has subjected young Sean to, she sure is cavalier with his health and safety when it's convenient for her....

I imagine you've all seen the story about Britney's "escape" from the paparazzi, wherein she drove one-handed with her 5-month old son in her left arm. Now, first of all, 5 month-olds are wiggly, so a loose one in a moving car is a danger to himself even without any outside factors. Second, that little cutie's a pretty big guy, so he'd make a nice projectile if for any reason she had to hit the brakes suddenly or G-d forbid someone hit them while she was on Pacific Coast Highway (the scene of Gov Sch's recent motorcycle mishap), which apparently is where she drove after leaving the Starbucks parking lot.

Finally, it's a violation of CA Veh Code section 27360 to drive with a child not in a restraint system (which is spelled out in painstaking detail). Please note, Ms. Spears, "The court may require a defendant described under this section to attend an education program that includes demonstration of proper installation and use of a child passenger restraint system and provides certification to the court that the defendant has presented for inspection a child passenger restraint system that meets applicable federal safety standards." Now that you're not touring or anything, you'll have time for that.


RIP, intrepid souls

Three years ago today, I awoke from a nap in London and learned that the spaceship Columbia had disintegrated upon re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere, killing everyone aboard and once more casting the future of space exploration into doubt. The images were all the more shocking because Challenger was 17 years and 3 or 4 days behind us, and at one time that was the worst thing we thought we'd ever see in our lives -- it was to have been, I imagine, our November 22, 1963. But of course, as we now know, that day is September 11, 2001.

Rest in peace, Dave Brown, Willie McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, Rick Husband, Laurel Clark, and Ilan Ramon, who braved the last frontier and lived every second on the edge, 'til the end.