Variety reports that Focus Features is accelerating its rollout of Brokeback into red state territory based on the phenomenal numbers it racked up last weekend, coming in 8th at the box office on a meager 69 screens: “Focus brass said Monday that it will roll out “Brokeback” on 300-400 screens by Jan. 6, altering its original agenda of putting the film on 250 screens by Jan. 13.”
Brokeback took top honors at the Satellite Awards, a group comprised of former members of the Hollywood Foreign Press.
David Letterman: Top Ten Signs You’re a Gay Cowboy.
In the Sunday movie section of the NYT, Manohla Dargis looks at the tradition of the cowboy, masculinity in America, and Brokeback Mountain‘s relationship to the gay rights movement — Masculinity and its Discontents in Marlboro Country:
“Jack and Ennis embody the classic western divide between nature and culture, their lives split between the freedom of the wilderness and the restrictions of the putatively civilized world they call home. Ms. Proulx’s story opens long after the symbolic closing of the American frontier and six years before Stonewall, and delineates a new frontier that will soon change the country’s social and political topography: gay rights. As Ms. Proulx has reminded interviewers, Matthew Shepard was murdered the year after her story was published. In the pop-culture fantasy of assimilation, gay men and lesbians are little more than fabulous accessories for straights, but Shepard’s death and the debate over same-sex marriage are reminders that this frontier remains open.”
Calling Brokeback a gay cowboy story is a “cruel simplification” says Roger Ebert:
“When he was taught by his father to hate homosexuals, Ennis was taught to hate his own feelings. Years after he first makes love with Jack on a Wyoming mountainside, after his marriage has failed, after his world has compressed to a mobile home, the laundromat, the TV, he still feels the same pain: ‘Why don’t you let me be? It’s because of you, Jack, that I’m like this — nothing, and nobody.’ But it’s not because of Jack. It’s because Ennis and Jack love each other and can find no way to deal with that.
MSNBC talks to Michelle Williams about her role in Brokeback. Among other things, she tells them Heath Ledger was upset when unauthorized on-set nude paparazzi photos of him appeared on the internet:
“I know how hurt he was by it—for a lot of reasons. You feel let down by the people who are supposed to be protecting you and who are creating a safe working environment. You’re aghast that there are people out there who could profit on such a private moment. The thing that’s a shame about it is that I remember him coming back from that day at work. He was feeling exuberant—and enlivened. Then, to have that taken away from him. All of a sudden it was this public moment. That’s just such a shame. That’s such a bummer.
Seizing an opportunity to feel out a homo in Brokeback country, the NYT profiled Guy Padgett, the openly gay mayor of Casper, Wyoming over the weekend: “Other people said the film’s gay-cowboy theme would be a bigger deal outside Wyoming than in places like Casper, because the outside world, they say, has locked in stereotypes about the state that the movie can play with and shatter. Here, they say, many people will yawn, or chuckle. Mr. Padgett, whose single term expires next month, said that he did not think there would be any backlash against gay men in Casper as a result of “Brokeback Mountain,” when it eventually does play in theaters here, but that there probably would not be any positive change, either.”
Newsweek chats with Jake Gyllenhaal about his ass: “I respect that people are interested in that. I’m flattered by it. But I hope there are more important things in the stories that they’re moved by.”
The Telegraph chimes in with a meatier Jake interview: “If I walked into the make-up trailer first thing in the morning and realised Heath was being a pain because he was exhausted and I was a little pissed off with him because of that, then I would take that into our love scenes. I just decided that whatever I was feeling, I was going to incorporate the real stuff into the scenes…What’s special about Brokeback Mountain is that it says that whether it’s heterosexual, homosexual, if there’s love, that’s all that matters, and it will last, no matter how scrutinised or abused it is.”
Monsters and Critics reports on the reaction Brokeback is getting from conservatives, who think the film will die a slow death at the hands of empty theaters (a theory already proven wrong). Diana Ossana, the film’s co-screenwriter, said it’s changing hearts and minds: “People come in with these preconceived notions of the film but after they see it they can’t stop thinking about it. They’ll tell me, ‘You know, I never really thought about gay men and their lives. I always tried to avoid it, but I really felt bad for those guys. I didn’t know they felt the way that we do.”
Chicagoist looks at the local papers and sees double.
The Harvard Crimson reports on Focus Features’ James Schamus visit to the Harvard Film Archive for a screening of BB, where he talked about working with Ang Lee on the film: “Schamus, however, soon realized the core audience for the film would not be homosexuals: ‘I said to Ang, there’s one core audience for the movie; he said, ‘oh yeah, right, the gay audience,’ and I said, ‘no, women.’’ Schamus says he hopes mothers worldwide will be the voice of this movie.”
Oops. You can imagine how pissed wingnut watchdog site Lifesite was when it found out the Catholic News Service gave Brokeback a positive review. They scolded The United States Conference of Bishops Office for Film and Broadcasting because of the “completely inappropriate” review of the film published by the group’s wire service: “While the glowing review remains, the USCCB office’s rating for the film has been altered to the most severe rating – “O” for morally offensive from “L” which denotes that it is appropriate for a limited adult audience.”
Movie website JoBlo gives the film 7/10 stars: “Another cool thing about this film was that it didn’t make these men-loving men the “stereotypical” over-the-top effeminate gay type, but rather simply…all-out cowboys who just happen to enjoy the company of men as opposed to the ladies (there’s nothing wrong with that!).”
Palo Alto Online gives the film their highest rating: “The incessant tag of the gay Western offends; groundbreaking is more like it. Nuanced sentiment and genuine affection brand this as one of the most memorable films of the year.”
Tony Robinson at Oregon’s KATU tells people to go and go with an open mind: “If you can leave preconceived notions at the door, you’ll find a gem. The performances are top notch and the writing and direction are equally good. It’s a film that deserves to be seen and discussed, not for its controversial story, but for what it is; art.”