Specials: Sarris on where "Brokeback" is broken. Pretty woman, Gump may join Mike Nichols. CNN on religious media.

Wednesday’s specials:

Courageously stating some of the obvious problems with Brokeback Mountain, Andrew Sarris demonstrates that he’s willing to swim upstream against the tidal wave of hype:

Hence, I suppose that my ultimate objection to Brokeback Mountain lies in its stretching out what originally begins as a physical relationship between two young men to, after 20 years, Ennis and Jack quarreling like an old married couple about the forced infrequency of their reunions. Yet what are the odds that they would have managed to stay together if they had been together all that time? The current odds on married heterosexual couples staying the course are no better than 50-50, and that is as true in the red states as it is in the blue.

Besides, the problem of the economic disparity between lower-middle-class Ennis and upper-middle-class Jack isn’t sufficiently addressed in Brokeback Mountain, even though Ennis is rendered virtually immobile by his pressing need to keep his job to support his kids. By contrast, Jack has the means and the time to hop down to Mexico to sleep with male prostitutes. In this, he follows a pattern of promiscuity that raises doubts about the stability of any more lasting day-to-day relationship between him and Ennis.

And just for the record, none of the classic women’s pictures that I mentioned actually made me cry. They were too good for that. All they did was create an aching feeling of loss in the pit of my stomach. I never felt that ache in Brokeback Mountain, despite all the artful acting, writing and direction devoted to that end.

Speaking of Brokeback, here’s a photo featured today at Jeffrey Wells’ Hollywood Confidential

Julia Roberts may join Tom Hanks in a Mike Nichols film about “Charlie Wilson, the rogue Texas congressman who oversaw the covert funding of the Afghan rebels in their battle against the Soviet Union.”

CNN on the religious-media revolution.

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  • Magnus

    Anne Proulx: “conservative heffalump academy voters”.

    Heffalump? I know it is a Winnie the Pooh reference, but heffalump?

  • Ellen Collison

    Re. Josh Olson: very classy response! Thanks for the link, Jeffrey.

  • Adam Walter

    I didn’t love the end of the film either, but the motivations of the character Walter is referring to have nothing to do with Christian faith, and everything to do with a psychological dysfunction.

    Not true, Poundstone. To examine this more closely, try the following. Imagine the same film in which only one thing is changed: move the character out of the church and into a mosque for that short scene. If this change were made, the film could only be taken as an attack on Islam–and rightly so. (“This is the sort of thing Islam makes people do.”) And I’d be the first person to berate Soderbergh for attacking Islam in this underhanded way.

    You’re left with the feeling that the culprit is not truly at fault for the crime committed.

    In what way does anyone feel the culprit wasn’t at fault?

    …amazing performances by the non-actors throughout.

    I agree that the non-actors were interesting to watch. But I don’t consider these to be “amazing performances” any more than I would apply such an evaluation to the “performances” in a documentary.

    …it’s supposed to look bleak, Mr. Walter, because it in fact *is* bleak!

    Let’s recall that we’re dealing with a fictional setting. It is what the director makes it. This is not a real place, it’s a set of filmic cues. The job of a good artist is always to try and capture the entirety of a thing, unless he purposefully wants to convey a slanted view of the world. Even in Hicksville, USA there are reasons to laugh and love.

    Take a film like Junebug and it’s depiction of religion, or a film like Tim Blake Nelson’s Eye of God and the winsome character of Ainsley… and you’ll see an artist making strong statements about the weaknesses of the smalltown midwest but also acknowledging that this is a place where fully-formed human beings may have meaningful lives.