I tend to avoid films once they’ve received too much media attention and praise. Maybe I want to be the rebel and avoid the crowd, but mostly, I just can’t stand to be let down after the build-up.
Not so with “Brokeback Mountain.” Not much to say because I’ve just returned home and am feeling slightly sad, sensitive, and speechless. But whatever political debate you decide to discuss after the credits roll, I will warn you: overall, this film will break your heart a little. After the debates (not to detract from Ang Lee’s deft handling of the larger social limitations), one is left with a sad love story to grapple with. I arrived home and weeped a little. Verging on a lot.
In fact, I just searched some reviews and found that Roger Ebert hits it on the head, “‘Brokeback Mountain’ could tell its story and not necessarily be a great movie. It could be a melodrama. It could be a ‘gay cowboy movie.’ But the filmmakers have focused so intently and with such feeling on Jack and Ennis that the movie is as observant as work by Bergman. Strange but true: The more specific a film is, the more universal, because the more it understands individual characters, the more it applies to everyone. I can imagine someone weeping at this film, identifying with it, because he always wanted to stay in the Marines, or be an artist or a cabinetmaker.” I’m not so sure about the Marines and cabinetmaker comparisons though …
And now I’m listening to Beck’s rendition of Daniel Johnston’s “True Love” to carry on with the current sentiment (it’s a lovely version, incidentally). How much more fitting is Barry Schwabsky’s poem below on top of the movie, the song, and the oncoming Noreaster that plans to bury New York City; I don’t know. But it’s a good one from his new chapbook, For Despair (Seeing Eye Books), so I’ll leave you to it. Here’s to a mellow & sleepy bittersweet Friday night, folks.
Hidden Track (Epilogue for Despair)
Sad and boring is what I call a sky
stirred turbid with used
watercolor brushes. It trusts me
out of one dead-dirty eye. Lazy lifted sky. Kick it
for me, paint me an angel, tempt
resemblance or self-
plagiarism, sullen antigirl, but it’s
pleasure doing business
with smoky perspiration. I’ll think
your zigzag songs back and then ahead.
Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is co-editing with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edited the anthology Bettering American Poetry 2015 and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.