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If It Ain't Brokeback, Don't Crash It - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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March 6th, 2006


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09:16 pm - If It Ain't Brokeback, Don't Crash It
Since my opinion is oh-so-important and also because I want to remember it, let me write a bit about the Oscars.

After a bit of the old Getting Lost, I found my way to the apartment of one beeker121. Now, I had formed no mental picture of her and thus would have been surprised regardless, but I will say that the VM4 sure is an attractive lot. I was also surprised to hear her describe herself as "thirty-ish" because I'd pegged her as late twenties. I'm pegging everyone as late twenties these days. I have no concept of age.

We walked over to her friends' house. This would be an Oscars party with theatre folk, and I didn't mind. Wil was TiVoing the ceremony so we could start late and skip the commercials.

The pre-show entertainment included playing with kitties, looking at fish, watching some bizarre trailers for A Boy and His Dog, and ordering pizza.

Really, the ordering pizza is the important part. Because it went like this:

Since I'm technically on a business trip, the company is paying for my food. So I wanted to get my pizza on a separate receipt. We began to work out who wanted what. Wil & Heather and Rebecca decided on pepperoni and some combination of vegetables, whereas I chose chicken and onions, and Rin, who had a British accent and was therefore awesome, took the other half of my pizza with cheese. Wil & Heather also recommended cheesy garlic bread, and I told them to put it on my tab, since it was totally a reasonable expense.

Heather called Fast Pizza and gave them the sitch. And this was their solution: after she gave them both orders and the credit card for her order...she had to hang up and call them back in order to initiate my order. I gave the guy my credit card information (he had me confirm that August was, in fact, the eighth month).

But wait. It gets better. Because less than five minutes later...Steph & her boyfriend whose name I cannot remember showed up. And wanted pizza. So they called. And ordered.

Thus, we had three different orders coming to the same house. It was glorious.

The viewing of the Oscars was very enjoyable and possibly the most fun I've ever had watching the Oscars. I thought Jon Stewart was very funny, if a bit uncomfortable at times, and the fake Best Actress ads nearly killed me with laughter. I'm not kidding; my chest was hurting and I was trying to stop laughing because I thought something bad would happen. The Sound Mixing ad was a hilarious bonus.

As you all know, I love making people laugh, so I was glad to get off at least one good zinger during the show. Everyone was commenting on Dolly Parton's not having backup dancers. They kept mentioning that there were no backup dancers. So I said, "They're all wearing green suits." It was a hit, especially since we'd all enjoyed Ben Stiller's schtick.

Unfortunately, Wil beat me to a joke I should have made myself, about Dolly Parton needing an Oscar for each of her boobs.

We all agreed that George Clooney had the best speech of the night.

And all right, it's time to talk about what's got everyone all riled up.

I loved Crash. A lot. So I was glad to see it win. I know many people think it's too heavy-handed and self-important, and, yeah, there are moments of pretension in there. It happens when you're trying very hard to SAY something.

When I first saw the trailer, I thought, "Blah blah blah racism blah blah blah." I didn't really have a desire to see it. But it got a lot of critical buzz. Then there was a free screening sponsored by a campus organization whose name and function I can't remember, but they were basically trying to use the film to start a dialogue about racism and get people talking. And watching Crash in an auditorium with people who really wanted to see it and discuss it was quite an experience.

When the movie ended, I had that "Wow, that was a good movie" feeling. I felt as if I had taken a journey, that I had really followed the lives of all these characters over the course of a day. It was so damn engrossing waiting for the spectre of racism to claim its next victim. It's kind of like Final Destination in that way. Except I think Crash excelled at pretty much every element of filmmaking, and Final Destination is just a fun movie.

I loved Crash. I liked Brokeback Mountain. Which, really, was a more memorable theatergoing experience. Melanie (toughcookie42) and Rohin (mangopickle) and several others and I drove an hour to the only theater in Michigan that was playing it. I knew it was the Big Gay Movie; it was an event. But it didn't affect me like Crash did. Nearly everyone who saw Brokeback said that it stayed with them and made them cry days later; I got nothing.

The two movies are very different, in the sense that one is a thematic movie centered around a great many characters and the other is a movie centered around two characters that inspires a theme. Yet, they both give an epic feel to small stories.

But here's the thing: I think Brokeback Mountain is a teensy bit overrated. I think all the hype and emotional reactions to it and cultural importance have turned it into much more than it really is. If it were some small indie flick that no one had heard of, would people love it so much? I don't know. I don't think it's, like, the greatest love story ever or anything. It's a very specific tale about the forbidden love between a cowboy who mumbles a lot and a cowboy who whines a lot and how it tears their lives and everyone connected apart. It's a good movie, don't get me wrong, and I appreciate that some people are very personally attached to it, and I hope it's had a positive impact on the perception and treatment of gay people. But, yeah, I honestly don't think it's all it's cracked up to be. And many people have the same opinion (well, actually, a much more negative opinion) about Crash, and that's fine. They're wrong, but that's fine.

In conclusion, Kevin Kline.
Current Mood: distresseddistressed
Current Music: The Brokeback Mountain theme is still stuck in my head

(60 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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From:harriettheelf
Date:March 7th, 2006 05:34 am (UTC)
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I thought Brokeback was completely overrated. Pretty scenery, and Jake Gyllenhaal (sic?) is always easy on the eyes. But the short story was so beautiful and moving, and the movie was so ... not. I found it to be a letdown.

Dear Heath Ledger: Mumbling is not the same thing as acting. Love, Rachel.
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From:glasseseater
Date:March 7th, 2006 05:52 am (UTC)
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say what you will about the movie, heath ledger captured the reticent farm-hand type guy well. I really think his performance was the best part of the whole deal.
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From:waitaminute17
Date:March 7th, 2006 06:02 am (UTC)
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I concur. I only saw Brokeback Mountain yesterday and haven't really thought about it much since. But both Crash and Brokeback Mountain were hyped A LOT. After seeing Crash I did not feel it was at all overrated, after seeing Brokeback I thought it was a little overrated.

Jake Gylenhall is almost as hot as you are so that made it worth the price of admission. The acting was good, and the cinematography was great, and lots of cute little sheep, but didn't really live up to hype entirely.

I think if I hadn't heard all that hype before seeing it I might have loved it more.
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From:sistakaren
Date:March 7th, 2006 06:33 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I think this is a case of different aesthetics, really. Because I thought that Brokeback Mountain was insanely brilliant in its depiction of a man who stifled everything he was because of fear. Everything about that movie had so much pain, sorrow and regret... except for when he was with Jack. I thought it was just beautiful. But I always think that type of conflict is way more interesting than most everything else (see: A History of Violence, which was my favorite movie of last year).

However, I thought that Crash was well-acted, but kinda absurd when you think about it. I didn't think these were honest conversations about racial relations -- and they're probably not intended to be. But it didn't get me thinking really; I felt like it was pretty much telling me what I should be thinking at any given moment. Which is fine, but it's just not what excites me about film. I've been preaching this for awhile, but I really think that Something New had more honest discussions about race than Crash.

And I guess that's my point. I'm more about emotional honesty and realism than anything. Which is not to say I don't enjoy things that aren't real, but I feel like Crash intended to be a parable about how race relations are in America. But the people's behavior in the movie didn't really resemble how people would actually behave in those situations. It's not incredibly difficult to concoct contrived situations in order to make a point, but it's infinitely more difficult to really think about how people actually behave and have a clear viewpoint that comes across. But that's just me. You know me. It's the same reason why I can't watch Veronica Mars.

Sorry for the brain dump! I didn't realize how strongly I felt about it.
From:mangopickle
Date:March 7th, 2006 06:34 am (UTC)
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Preach it, sistakaren.
From:mangopickle
Date:March 7th, 2006 06:33 am (UTC)
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Here is my main kung pao beef with Crash. It was very well-intentioned, but it was so poorly written. It was jampacked with too many coincidences that it broke reality and with a movie like Crash, once it breaks reality, it just becomes a cheesy parody of itself and I just felt like it became so coincidental that it rendered itself ineffective. I also think they handled the storyline with the Persian family very sloppily, but that could just be me. I guess because I'm always kind of penning narratives about racism in my head all the time, I just thought the movie fell short.

I think any of the other four contenders were easily much more viable. No, let me revise that. Walk the Line was more mediocre than Crash. Crash had a very interesting premise -- just awful, awful execution. Too much was going on (and I've heard the opposite qualm with Brokeback detractors, but I think they just need to learn to take deep, steady breaths and learn to trust the director.)

Here's the thing about Brokeback that resonated with a lot of people -- especially me. It represented a kind of love story that hasn't been accurately portrayed before but now it has. And very aesthetically and concisely. If you look at it from a cinematic point of view, It took the barebones story and it didn't weigh it down with anything unnecessary. The score was minimalistic. There was nothing exploitative about the film (maybe except for Anne Hathaway's breasts.) For the record, I thought Brokeback was an indie flick that just happened to push all the right buttons and get everyone hot and bothered (in every sense of that phrase.)

I think the Academy has a penchant for political correctness. How else can you explain Three 6 Mafia's cringeworthy win? (And if it's that hard out here for a pimp, what about his hos? You know, 'cause they're the ones who get beaten around by the men they sleep with AND their pimps.) Dolly Parton deserved that award, just like Felicity Huffman deserved hers (I love Reese -- really, I even worship her work in Vanity Fair, but Transamerica was beautiful.)

Oh and I was spewing fire when I found out Keira Knightley was nommed for Pride & Prejudice, unfairly squatting in a nomination that clearly had Laura Linney's name written all over it for her marvelous work in The Squid & The Whale.

I like your observations though -- I think essentially Crash vs Brokeback comes down to personal preferences/prejudices for different people.
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From:sistakaren
Date:March 7th, 2006 06:39 am (UTC)
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Oh my goodness, I almost vomited when that damn song from Hustle and Flow won. HATE. That song encapsulates everything that is wrong with rap today. Man. I really can't take Hustle and Flow. That movie made me kinda angry for reasons I have trouble putting into words.
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From:zimshan
Date:March 7th, 2006 06:34 am (UTC)
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I don't know, I find it kind of hilarious that everyone's rushing to compare Crash and Brokeback now because I don't think the films could be anymore different. They are just two different TYPES of films. One's fast, intense, and gritty, the other's slow, emotional, and pretty. The only thing I really think they have in common is that they were both political agendas. And that they both left me abit 'meh'ed.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 7th, 2006 05:10 pm (UTC)
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They are just two different TYPES of films. One's fast, intense, and gritty, the other's slow, emotional, and pretty.

Yes. Exactly.
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From:shamoogity
Date:March 7th, 2006 07:33 am (UTC)
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I agree that Crash was really good and thought-provoking and that Brokeback was good, but slightly overrated, but I still think Brokeback should have won. Crash did move me, but it didn't even try to be subtle, plus I think making characters feel real is more difficult to do than making a point.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 7th, 2006 05:11 pm (UTC)
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Well, I don't think Haggis wanted to be subtle, given his acceptance speech. He was using the Brechtian hammer of truth!
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From:iheartbridges
Date:March 7th, 2006 07:51 am (UTC)
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I'm glad you had fun. I didn't really read this all (I'm sorry, I suck) because I didn't watch the Oscars, so I'm a bit, "Eh, whatever" about it all.

But yay for CA!
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From:geekgirl84
Date:March 7th, 2006 08:03 am (UTC)
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I haven't seen Brokeback Mountain yet . . . but I loved Crash. I was pleasantly surprised that it won. If a movie that came out almost a year ago can still stick in the minds of Oscar voters . . . then that says something.
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From:sterope
Date:March 7th, 2006 08:48 am (UTC)
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Agree, agree, agree.

Crash > Brokeback Mountain
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From:harper47
Date:March 7th, 2006 01:02 pm (UTC)
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I too felt that Crash was a better movie. As I posted over at zimshan's lj it was a wonderful ensemble effort with pretty much every actor in it performing at the top of their game and I felt the director did a terrific job of interweaving the various stories so that you cared deeply what was going on. Like you at the end I felt drained and like I had watched something that had affected me intensely. So I had no quarrels at all with the choice of Crash.

In fact - for the first time in years I felt the Academy really did a good job in it's choices. Reese and Hoffman completely deserved their Oscars as did Rachel Weisz who was amazing in Constant Gardener. The only one I might quarrel with - and I haven't seen the movie so it's not a legitamate quarrel - is Clooney's Oscar. But since he is the reigning Prom King of Hollywood at the moment it was inevitable that he would win one of the three he was up for and this was the only logical choice.

He and Reese did a terrific job in their acceptance speeches. I even enjoyed Hoffman's dazed tribute to his mom. I thought Jon Stewart did a great job hosting - mixing it up well with lots of good moments.

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From:pixie37373
Date:March 7th, 2006 02:17 pm (UTC)
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I wanted to see both movies, and then got too busy, so I don't have anything intelligent to write here, but I wanted to say Hi. :)
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From:jeeperstseepers
Date:March 7th, 2006 02:24 pm (UTC)
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They kept mentioning that there were no backup dancers. So I said, "They're all wearing green suits."

Brilliant.

They're wrong, but that's fine.

Hee!

I started watching the Oscars but got too bored. It seems I missed all the funny bits. I saw no Best Actress ads. In fact, I saw nothing other than Stewart's awkward opening monologue and a few montages. I caught a tiny bit more here and there as the evening went on and I passed through the living room now and then, and Stewart seemed to be doing a lot better with his one-liners between awards and performances. At the very least, he wasn't annoying and he looked good, which is good enough in my book.

I'm glad you posted what you did about Crash and Brokeback Mountain. I still haven't seen either movie, but I remember that when you got back from that Crash screening you were all excited about how great it was. And I think that I'm going to appreciate Brokeback Mountain when I see it, but I also have a feeling I'm going to be thinking "This? THIS is the amaaaaazing movie?"
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 7th, 2006 05:12 pm (UTC)
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I still haven't seen either movie, but I remember that when you got back from that Crash screening you were all excited about how great it was.

Aw. You remember things. That's why I love you.

And I think that I'm going to appreciate Brokeback Mountain when I see it, but I also have a feeling I'm going to be thinking "This? THIS is the amaaaaazing movie?"

Heh. Possibly. Then again, you could be deeply affected by it. Who knows?
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From:the_partyman
Date:March 7th, 2006 02:37 pm (UTC)
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I really enjoyed Crash, and I have no problems with winning an Oscar - it was a great movie.

My nitpick is not that I was cheering other movies, but that it makes me think "why the heck did Magnolia not win an Oscar" way back when, because I feel the two movies share many similarites, and Magnolia was far superior, imho.

That may just be me.

I haven't seen Brokeback Mountain yet. Hmmm in fact I think i will maybe watch it today.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 7th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC)
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Mmm. Magnolia. Yeah, they're similar, and Magnolia is better.
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From:briasoleil
Date:March 7th, 2006 02:42 pm (UTC)
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To be fair, the only film I saw that was nominated was Wallace and Gromit. Because, well, it was Wallace and Gromit. I haven't even seen La Marche de l'empéreur (The March of the Penguins). So, I suck.

However, I was probably rooting the most for Good Night, and Good Luck. Just because I was. Because the very premise is one that's very dear to me.

George Clooney's speech was by far the best.

And now, I need to see everything from The Constant Gardener to Crash to Brokeback Mountain to Capote. I'm uncertain about seeing either Walk the Line or Munich. However, King Kong and War of the Worlds? Decidedly not.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 7th, 2006 05:14 pm (UTC)
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I want to see Good Night, and Good Luck. And The Constant Gardener. And maybe Capote. And I still haven't seen King Kong and War of the Worlds, and I want to. Munich looks interesting as well.
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From:sinca
Date:March 7th, 2006 02:46 pm (UTC)
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I haven't seeen Brokeback Mountain, but I felt Crash didn't deserve the award because it certainly was not the best movie in that field by far. I did see Capote and that was much better (and infinitely more enlightening about humam behavior) and didn't get a tenth of the buzz.

I felt like Crash hit me over the head with its "LESSONS!" Like, "Here! Find out what two white writers think you should feel about racism! Aren't these minorities and white stereotypes fun to play with?"

But I'm wrong, so it doesn't matter. ;)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 7th, 2006 05:18 pm (UTC)
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See, I'm in it for stories, and I found all the stories very compelling in their interconnectedness, regardless of the fact that they were all very clearly centered around the themes of racism and (and I think this part gets left by the wayside) racial identity.

I can totally understand that people could feel hit over the head by it, but I didn't really feel that because I was too caught up in the movie to care about its agenda, if that makes any sense.

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