Anna Karina in Pierre le Fou


Long before the Oscars were the BAFTA's--and they chose Brokeback Mountain!

BAFTA's , February 19, 2006
It was a night of surprises, an excellent, gracious and witty host - Stephen Fry who starred in Wilde (1997), as Oscar Wilde. It was also a night to thank George Clooney for stirring up the political volume in film. The highest honor went to producer Lord David Puttnam behind films like The Killing Fields, and Chariots of Fire,with Ben Cross sitting in the audience. Cross starred opposite Ian Charleson in Chariots of Fire (1981) - a film about "two men chasing dreams of glory" at the 1924 Olympics. Charleson died of AIDS in 1990. Putnam applauded the work of George Clooney for themes that had changed the industry in a year – probably the best accolade of the evening.

But above all it was a nite for Brokeback Mountain--best script, best adapted screenplay , best supporting actor.

"Its not a gay cowboy film", quipped the producer of Brokeback Mountain upon receiving the award for best film. "Its a gay shepard film!" Jake Gyllenhaal got his just rewards for best supporting actor. Jake reports in Premiere last month how hard it was to initiate 'the intimacy' in the film, but not when Ledger and he were wrestling. After all sports are perfectly acceptable homosocial encounters - for spectators and players alike. Observe the fascination for the Olympics. So, if 'love is a force of nature', as the film poster states, why not nominate both actors? The Brits did!

Fry's jokes went over well, many about the handsome men in the room and on stage. The awards ceremony was polished and intelligent. Tributes to people in the industry who had passed away was very well made -- with clips from films of among others, Shelley Winters, Sir John Miles and Richard Pryor.

Wallace and Gromit: the Curse of the Were Rabbit won best British film. The Constant Gardener, nominated for ten awards took home one award. The awards caused a stir the next day, how can we not reward our own? Not realizing that is exactly what Hollywood would do a couple of weeks later. Cheers to the Brits!

"I'm not a lesbian but my girlfriend is...."

Biopic on the late vocalist Dusty Springfield in the works, directed by Ang Lee. Charlize Theron will be cast as Springfield and opposite, as the PR goes, Springfield's lesbian lover Kate Moss. So what does that make Springfield? Remember that T-shirt "I'm not a lesbian but my girlfriend is". Here we go again. Marketing for an Ang Lee film about what it's not about....
Springfield biopic
Ang Lee's new film cast

Brokeback Tie-Ins?

From the beginning Brokeback gained art house cult momentum from its Golden Lion at Venice to its opening in far less theaters than King Kong, but holding its own enough to surpass the Kong box office based on its exhibition availabilities. Now the film has moved into popular culture with auctions, music and advertising--that are not your usual 'tie-ins'.

This is an amazing phenomena to witness. I disagree that it has 'perked up' heterosexual interet in gay relationships. It reveals the extent of a covert homosexual culture forced underground for the prejudices and hate crimes depicted in 1960's middle America but are rampant everywhere today.
Pop Cult Brokeback
"Brokeback" shirts go for more than $100k
The eBay auction of the two shirts worn by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall in "Brokeback Mountain" closed Sunday afternoon. The winning bid? $101,100.51!

The shirts were won by Tom Gregory, who placed the winning bid about 10 minutes before the auction closed. Gregory told PlanetOut he was thrilled that he won the auction, but explained his euphoria on a broader level. "The shirts represent such a significant moment in the history of film," Gregory said. "And when you see the shirts together in the closet in the film, it's an extraordinary moment for gay people. You just . . . sigh."

Brokeback auction

White Woman, King Kong

We all knew it was going to win something--visual. Thrilling dinosaur matches with King Kong, giant sucking insects, flying creatures which compel. Otherwise, why do a King Kong film now? The theme of the film, according to scriptwriter Jackson: "beauty destroyed the beast. The day she met him, he was a dead "man", captivated". Doesn't really explain why make a Kong film NOW, though.

A white woman esteemed by a gorilla. A white woman in a white dress walking through the streets of New York in 0 degree weather to find her King (Kong). A group of white men, (one) white woman , (one) Asian man and (one) black man on a boat to Skull Island? Spoilers: the black and Asian man die first. Next, a group of spirit possessed black islanders are subdued by the militarism of a ship's primarily white crew and captain? Why now? Why Kong?

I do not mean that the film is 'racist'. It skillfully uses race tropes, primarily white and black. By looking at how these tropes are used we can get a better sense of images are endowed in film , particularly images of 'white' people. Who gets contrasted against these seemingly 'normative' images? De-mythologizing, deconstructing "whiteness".

Kong also 'capitalizes' on macho gender roles. Ann does cartwheels to impress Kong, and all he can come back with is knocking her down over and over which gives him a real chuckle. When she challenges him, he feels emasculated, pounds his chest and fists and gets hit with a rock that falls on him from his rage attack. After that, she's gotten to him, and he's captive. Oh boy, how infantile can the scriptwriters get. Or casting - Jack Black could play Orson Welles, if he wasn't such a bad actor.

And have to agree that Kong gave Jackson the opportunity to work with the special effects of Lord of the Rings, and all that dinosaur flesh rolling over and over, with safty insects sucking up the men provide plenty of material.

Its impossible to ignore the racial tropes, its so obvious, and since Kong has been recycled many times, trotting out a new version exposes the story for these crystallized structures. What comes to mind when I watch this movie is film professor ( University of Warwick) Richard Dyer's masterful study White, on the representation of white in film, and the history of 'white' in culture. From Richard Dyer's White:

White people are not literally or symbolically white; nor are they uniquely virtuous and pure. Racial imagery and racial representation are central to the organisation of the contemporary world but, while there are many studies of images of black and Asian people, whiteness is an invisible racial position. At the level of racial representation, whites are not of a certain race. They are just the human race, a 'colour' against which other ethnicities are always examined. In White , Richard Dyer looks beyond the apparent unremarkability of whiteness and argues for the importance of analysing images of white people. Dyer traces the representation of whiteness by whites in Western visual culture, focusing on the mass media of photography, advertising, fine art, cinema and television. Dyer examines the representation of whiteness and the white body in the contexts of Christianity, 'race' and colonialism and, in a series of absorbing case studies, he discusses the representations of whiteness in muscle-man action cinema, from Italian 'peplum' movies to the Tarzan and Rambo series; shows the construction of whiteness in photography and cinema in the lighting of white and black faces, and analyses the representation of white women in end-of-empire fictions such as The Jewel in the Crown , and traces the disturbing association of whiteness with death, in vampire narratives and dystopian films such as Blade Runner and the Aliens trilogy.

The part above about 'lighting' whiteness is especially true for Jackson's new film. Note how Watts is lit in the scenes where her whiteness is constrasted with the darkness of Skull Island, and islanders. And the scene where she finds Kong in NYC, wearing only a white gown. And in the end with Kong gone, its time to return to 'her own kind' with an embrace of Brody. No contrasts needed.

Regarding having new heights to the new tale, a modern Kong may have scaled the WTC, but in the original story, this was the Great Depression, and the Empire State Building was the tallest edifice to challenge Kong. Opening scenes of the film about time period promised something that just never was delivered. Jackson just got sucked into the story, its his kind of story anyway. He made it his kind of story.

Whose Cold Blood?

Its a pretty disturbing film when you realize that the character played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman is far from the vampire Truman Capote was in real life. Perry Smith confessed to the murders before he told Capote, unlike the version in the latest theatrical realize. Its doubtful that Truman assisted in stays of execution as the film intimates, but like the film used his money and influence to play with the courts and penal institutions to his whim and fancy. Amazing that a celebrity could have such disregard for human life and buy his way through. He lived a good twenty years after he wrote In Cold Blood and died of alcoholism. From the film its clear that the disease had taken its toll early on.

There is something indeed disturbing about the gay and lesbian characters in Capote. For one thing, thing they never have sex. Its the most sexless movie that has ever been made. The director pumps up the eroticism between Perry and Truman, and is content having Truman's boring lover dismiss Harper Lee as "masculine". She also never has sex. Though Seymour Hoffman does a great job of portraying a caricature of the real life very stereotypical gay Capote, we learn that the title of his book could just as well apply to the way he got his story.

What does In Cold Blood (1967) have to say about Capote? Time to watch Robert Blake, the man who shot his wife have a go at Perry Smith.

Master Executioner of Sharks and Humans

Munich is so incredibly violent that its unbearable to watch. For spice Spielberg throws in a female assassin that is brutally murdered with coolness- simple little bullet holes from a silencer, that are neat and small and then spurt blood, her body left naked. There is seemingly no point at all for this, for the efforts to first conceal her, then not to feel guilt afterwards that her body wasn't covered by the men who executed her. Her crime is punished in a way that in its subtleness is disturbing--she executed for money, not for political motive, which is why her execution is aesthetized in distinctly vivid ways.
The execution of "Jeanette"(Marie-Josée Croze) differs from the laid out naked corpse of "Carl"(Ciarán Hinds), in dim hotel light --actually no comparison.

The walk on representation of Golda Meir is also shallow and a caricature no doubt because of poor scripting.

There is just execution after execution in this film, no analysis of what was going on at the time with the asassination of the 11 athletes. Nothing revealed other than violence. A pointless film in this respect in which nothing is learned. Other than that violence solves nothing. The aesthetics of violence should excite. Which is why so many analyses of the film confine themselves to apartments exploding and glass shattering. There is no inspiration to learn more from the film, only what the film lacks and doesn't discuss.

If studio execs prefer Brokeback Mountain over Munich it is because Lee's film provides a background and conceptualization of the brutality and repression of homosexuality with emotion. Kuscher and Roth try to humanize Eric Bana in between executions, and off assignment but it doesn't diminish Spielberg's 167 minute tirade of cinema time and space destruction.

Theories around Why Crash Beat Brokeback--like I said, it was a local thing, and like I said the theme of two closeted gay men in Brokeback was too much for 'liberal', ahem, conservative Hollywood.

Gee its so hard for a pimp....

More on the hypocrite meter of liberal Hollywood. Gee we feel so sorry for these poor pimps that have it so hard that their woman hatred is the only outlet they have, instead of fighting for real change....
Did it occur to the creators of these lyrics that confronting racism in the USA allows involves confronting sexism? And what about all the lame ass liberals that voted for this while at the same time rewarding CRASH? Sexual discrimination is at the bottom of racism making the message of Brokeback Mountain far more radical....But this is Hollywood...superficial treatment of "the human condition" at all costs.

The songs from CRASH, Transamerica and Hustle and Flow display the intersection of gender and race themes. Next year they will be showing montages of the fact that films about pimps aren't all that rare, now that films about prostitutes have oversaturated the market. But how can you sing against racism and beat on women.

Happy International Women's Day! (March 8th) The UN still does not acknowlege crimes against woman as crimes against humanity.

CinéFemme presents the lyrics of the award winning tune for the folks that don't listen to the lyrics of rap songs because it all sounds the same, or for the ones who do, for all the folks that applauded the song at the Oscars because it was politically correct but didn't know what the lyrics were about, and for those who did.

Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard
[Chorus 2X: Shug - singing] + (Djay)
You know it's hard out here for a pimp (you ain't knowin)
When he tryin to get this money for the rent (you ain't knowin)
For the Cadillacs and gas money spent (you ain't knowin)
[1] Because a whole lot of bitches talkin shit (you ain't knowin)
[2] Will have a whole lot of bitches talkin shit (you ain't knowin)
In my eyes I done seen some crazy thangs in the streets
Gotta couple hoes workin on the changes for me
But I gotta keep my game tight like Kobe on game night
Like takin from a ho don't know no better, I know that ain't right
Done seen people killed, done seen people deal
Done seen people live in poverty with no meals
It's fucked up where I live, but that's just how it is
It might be new to you, but it's been like this for years
It's blood sweat and tears when it come down to this shit
I'm tryin to get rich 'fore I leave up out this bitch
I'm tryin to have thangs but it's hard fo' a pimp
But I'm prayin and I'm hopin to God I don't slip, yeah
Man it seems like I'm duckin dodgin bullets everyday
Niggaz hatin on me cause I got, hoes on the tray
But I gotta stay paid, gotta stay above water
Couldn't keep up with my hoes, that's when shit got harder
North Memphis where I'm from, I'm 7th Street bound
Where niggaz all the time end up lost and never found
Man these girls think we prove thangs, leave a big head
They come hopin every night, they don't end up bein dead
Wait I got a snow bunny, and a black girl too
You pay the right price and they'll both do you
That's the way the game goes, gotta keep it strictly pimpin
Gotta have my hustle tight, makin change off these women, yeah


Oscar Beeswax

To be sure, CRASH. was the instructive movie. A preachy movie. Ang Lee said he wasn't sure why the Academy didn't like Brokeback Mountain. Probably something home grown from LA was preferable. But certainly homophobia is part of why it wasn't selected. The kind that no one will admit to, just as no one will admit to racism, or sexism. The why do you have to make a big fuss about it kind of homophobia. Why the big deal. See we've dealt with it before. We're all liberal, we work with each other everyday. That kind of 'ism'. The film that had the widest support is bullshit...its who had the most screeners, pushers and preachers. And then in the end, it comes down to your personal belief system.

But the truth is most of the films were kind of preachy this year--and everyone was selling messages: this film is about this and that, and, oh by the way I want to thank my grandmother, mother, father etc. for this. Its like that documentary from England where these school children are followed every seven years from seven to 49--it all seems so predictable. Peggy Lee's tune "is that all there is comes to mind"..... The Constant Gardener and Munich were two films skillfully made that also went home (almost) emptyhanded. What do the publicists have to say about these films. And didn't Spielberg look a bit sour....

Brokeback Mountainmay not have been the best film, but it covered territory that has NOT been treated in mainstream film previously. Tacky speech by the producers of film though....for adapted screenplay. Fitting in timely with all those messages about the film. And maybe the marketers would have done well to proclaim " This is a Gay Love Story about Two Closeted Shepherds Who Married Women to Hide Their Love".

The award for original song "IT'S HARD OUT HERE FOR A PIMP" (Hustle and Flow) was a total bore. But the burning cars from CRASH and Dolly Parton's Transamerica score weren't invigorating enough for the one's voting in this category. No matter how the presenters tried to dress up that other song titles have been "unusual" this was a real low for Oscar history.

Just how original was this rap song with the same predictable format.......hello? But for the Oscars, radical. Prostitutes are made happy in Hollywood (Julia Roberts), now its time for the pimps that beat them up. And a song to glorify it. CRASH!!!!

George Clooney is Mr Oscar 2006. Best acceptance speech: Batman is dead. But is in the year of Brokeback Mountain ....

Tsotsi seemed to be a sure thing from beginning. Now according to Jon Stewart, 3 Pack Mafia knew how to accept an award. Wrong. It was Gavin Hood.

Joaquin Phoenix gave a lot more than Phillip Seymour Hoffman, far more than Reese "I'm just trying to matter" Witherspoon. Sometimes you wonder. But its a publicist bash, not an awards show. Did you see all the props paraded on stage, penguins bow ties etc.

Tribute to Robert Altman, rather swell ( Streep, Tomlin did it well). Altman's films snubbed at previous Oscar 'awards' makes you appreciate what good film can be...even a special Oscar at that....
And of course the industry is worried about downloading films and pushing the widescreen. How many times did they do that?