Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chat: Gangs of New York AND Brokeback Mountain

Natalie: Wanna chat whatever movie we're supposed to chat next (and remind me what that movie is)?

Tracy: Sure! I'm thinking it's Brokeback/Gangs?

Natalie: Right--that sounds right

Tracy: So want to take Gangs first? I was excited to watch it again, and was taken with the first fifteen minutes, and then any part that Daniel Day Lewis was in.

Natalie: Ha! I did not watch Gangs again because I'd just watched it for the first time pretty recently. I liked it just fine but I'm beginning to suspect that I'm just not a Scorcese sort of girl.

Tracy: It's funny--I'm not a huge fan either, but there was something about this one that I was really taken with (along with Age of Innocence). It seemed a lot more lush and expressive than stuff like Taxi Driver or Raging Bull. Maybe I only like him when he's doing the past of New York?

Natalie: That's interesting. I tried to watch Age once when I was a teenager and just couldn't do it. I should try again (is it on the list?) now that I've read and liked the book. I liked the look and feel of the film for the most part but a lot of it felt really overindulgent to me, on Scorcese's part.

Tracy: (I'll go check.) Yeah, it was definitely flawed. There was too much Diaz, for one thing, and it tried to cover too much time. But it sort of played into some of my favorite literary tropes. You have these two men who are clearly living by an outdated system of honor, trying to settle their blood feud the way their fathers did, and that just doesn't work in the modern world. Also, it reminded me a bit of Faulkner--these huge Shakespearian/ancient Greek themes played out amongst these marginalized people in a relatively small community.

No Age of Innocence, btw.

Natalie: Those parts I liked and I very much liked the idea of it. Maybe if another director had done it . . . or with a crueler editor? Diaz needs to not be in movies. At all.

I'll just have to watch Age on my own I guess.

Tracy: It's also overindulgent, but beautiful, I think. And also has DDL! Plus, no Diaz! Apparently Gangs was a movie MS had wanted to make his whole career, and I could tell how much he loved it, but it still has these big problems. Accents being not a minor one.

Natalie: Oh the accents. Sigh. That MS wanted to make it his whole career makes sense and I can see it in the film. It's hard to tell your baby or have anyone tell you about your baby that it's imperfect or a touch too much.

Tracy: Exactly. So I like the spirit behind it, made me like it more than a much more accomplished film like The Aviator, but still, there's a reason I bought it but then didn't watch it until now. I'm not surprised or angry that it got dumped for Brokeback, and it's funny/interesting that yet again, we get two movies that sort of speak to each other, and about gender!

Natalie: Yeah, and why I didn't watch it again. We do have a lot of gender chatting going on this week! A lot of testosterone swirling around.

Tracy: Hold your nose! :) Brokeback was just as heartbreaking and lovely as I remembered. It had been awhile since I had seen this one as well, but again, we have these two men who are not in the right time, but in this case, they were too early.

Natalie:  HAHA! I remember seeing Brokeback in the theater but I don't remember it impacting me as much as it did with this viewing. Maybe it's because I was getting ready to go to the wedding of two gay men or the prevalence of the issue in the news or whatever else but, goodness, those two not being able to be together killed me. But I'm also always killed by people who love each other but can't be together--Guess Who's Coming to Dinner kills me even more because they're playing at being together.

Tracy: It's excruciating, especially when they turn on each other. And it sucks because Ennis has a point about the danger of their relationship, as proven by the possibility of the "real story" behind Jack's death, so they literally have no options, and their unhappiness radiates outward, particularly in Ennis's family. It's mean and unfair and really hard to accept. I guess just in terms of the movie as movie, do you feel the passage of time was handled well? Especially in terms of actors' makeup and such?

Natalie: No options at all and all of that juxtaposed against the daughter's engagement at the end--that she can have who she chooses. I didn't notice the make-up or anything else in a negative way but perhaps there needed to be a bit more. Those men were cowboys for some or all of their lives and would have been a tad more weather beaten I think.

Tracy: Yeah, and poor Jake always looks twelve, whether you slap a mustache on him or not. Oh! And it also got me with Jack's parents at the end.

Natalie: He does. They can't do much to age him. Ugh. The parents. The mother especially got me with her knowing looks and nods and just wrapping up the shirts to put in the bag like she completely understood. And I think she did--and accepted him anyway and loved Ennis for loving her son. Which was interesting because none of the other characters did that. Anne Hathaway's character may have had a clue at the end or maybe even before but we don't get much from her, much less compassion.
Tracy: That's true. It seems like the mom might have been the only one who would have accepted them, and we can all see how much power she has. Yeah. It's a tough one. But so gorgeously filmed. And featuring not-crazy-yet Randy Quaid!

Natalie: Gorgeously filmed. This is a good example of a film that loves and lingers on the landscape but doesn't over-do it. Ha! Randy Quaid--I skimmed right over the fact that that was him.

Tracy: Probably best! The book is mostly summary--talks about the "gay Western" aspect (and notes that Lonesome Cowboys did it first in 1969, but we won't be watching that). And then calls it "heartbreaking, honest, and refreshingly matter-of-fact" as well as drooling all over Ledger. Pretty typical. Although that 1969 thing reminds me of something fairly related--did you see/hear that story on NPR about a new book or article that says there's a difference between gayness and homosexuality, the former being a culture (Stonewall, ACT-UP, etc.) that is being lost? I just saw it on my newsfeed and meant to go back but haven't yet.

Natalie: That seems on par with everything else the book says. I haven't seen that article yet. That's interesting. I can see how there's a point but I might think that the culture aspect has just evolved because it doesn't have to do the same things it needed to do then--does that make sense?

Tracy: Yeah--1hJ and I were talking about it last night--again, out of both of our asses because I had read a 30-word summary and he hadn't heard of it at all--but right, that sort of up-front political activism might be fading now (though I'd be curious to hear his take on marriage equality). But if he's saying there's a right or wrong way to be gay, then that's troublesome--like current gay people are in straight-face or something? And it also leaves out lesbians and transgenders entirely. But again, I have no idea what he actually says.

Natalie: And the political culture has changed dramatically--because of that foundation there's no need to be the same culture. When the President says you're ok and he thinks you should be able to get married... But, yeah, I'd have to actually read the article.

Tracy: Me too. Just sort of a tangent. But are we for Brokeback bumping Gangs?
Natalie: Related tangent at least. I'm for it. I'd rather bump something else that was actually terrible instead of just indulgent but I do like Brokeback much much better.

Tracy: Agreed. And I guess it's not a one-to-one thing anyway, but I'm cool with Gangs not being in there. I have to do a lot of work to like it.

Natalie: Yeah, ditto and ditto.

No comments:

Post a Comment