‘Brokeback’ & Me: A Brief History

cropped-brokeback1.jpg

As this blog’s title suggests, I hold a cherished space in my heart for Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee’s 2005 masterpiece. I have written extensively about the film, discussing the positives (its beauty, simplicity, performances, and relative transgression of film-going audiences’ expectations) and negatives (the relatively poor translation of eroticism from short story to screenplay, an over-reliance on heteronormative tropes).

I often sense some hesitation on the part of my queer friends and colleagues when I explain that Brokeback is my favorite film. I imagine that it’s because it is so mainstream and, some would argue, hetero. Perhaps more frustrating, I am too often labeled as simply “the gay guy” or “the guy who loves gay movies” by straight people I encounter. Those things are obviously true, but my love for this film is not contained by those words.

“It hit me at just the right time,” is a refrain I use over and over when attempting to sum up my attitude about the unconventional and undefinable story of Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist. I wrote about this time in my life in my senior project, the one I have mentioned here before, about Vito Russo and the evolution of queer representation in film. It was important for me to find the ways in which Vito and I could connect, and one of them was through a shared lifelong passion for the stories we see on screen, and the ways they relate to our own lives at that moment.

I would like to use the anecdote I wrote as a point of connection with my readers as well. Perhaps it will explain a little better the ways I view films and just how meaningful they can be for me.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Welcome One And All!

Brokeback2

Here it is as last! I’ve roped you into reading my film blog! No, you probably haven’t been anticipating it. And no, you may not even care what I have to say. But trust me, this baby has been gestating for a few solid years and I am a proud, proud papa.

Let me explain the name I’ve chosen…

I Wish I Knew How To Quit Film: that’s a lie, and hopefully you’ll appreciate the irony. It’s also, of course, a take on a famous quote adapted to film in Brokeback Mountain, my go-to favorite movie, and a flawed one at that. I credit Brokeback with spurring my interest in cinema as a true art form, one as susceptible to critique and our undivided attention as any great aria, Van Gogh, or concerto. I saw it for the first time in ninth grade alongside my mom and sister (more writing about that to come), and was instantly infatuated with its images of male-male desire. Less so director Ang Lee’s restraint, its evocative score, and the deep sadness pervading stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal’s performances.

Still, I carried the film with me through high school and into college at NYU. There, in my freshman year, I wrote an essay on the ways in which filmmakers and critics reinforced a homophobic and oddly romanticized attitude toward the film. I was forced to deal with some of the less-than-admirable qualities of the translation from short story to screen, including a severe reduction in homoeroticism (Lee commented at one point in the film’s press tour that it was far more erotic to watch men herding sheep than to watch them having sex) and a new emphasis on the hetero-home lives each man faces after coming down from Brokeback. From there on out, I critiqued and admired my favorite movie in equal measure. It somehow came out the other side wholly intact. Still my favorite and, taken to a sort-of extreme, worthy of tattooing on my leg, Brokeback Mountain hit me in the right place at the right time; I’m actually really happy I can’t seem to quit it.

brokebacktattoo

It seems fitting, then, that my first film blog should pay homage to Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, if only in title. The content, on the other hand, will be as diverse as the films I see.

For as long as I am able, I hope to use this space to write reviews, essays, and short musings of my own. I also sincerely hope that my blog can be a communal space; I’d relish contributions from other cinephiles, and comments from friends, family, and anyone else interested enough to care.

Film may be my obsession, but I am devoted to the notion that it is a populist art form: (relatively) accessible, interpretable by anyone, and, most importantly, a tool for camaraderie.

I’ll come back to that notion in a forthcoming post. For now, check out the scene (NSFW-language included) from Brokeback Mountain that gave my blog its title; it’s a doozy, but oh-so-wonderful!

And of course, thank you for reading. Feel free to subscribe for post updates and share as much and as often as you’d like.