March 10, 2004

Hotness on the Range

I just heard that Donnie Darko hottie, Jake Gyllenhaal, and the cutest thing to come out of Australia since koala bears, Heath Ledger, are slated to star opposite each other in Ang Lee's forthcoming Brokeback Mountain; the story of a ranch hand and a cowboy that find love and a life-long relationship in Wyoming. Industry buzz says that this screenplay has been around for quite a while, so perhaps Ang Lee is taking advantage of the the 2003 gay wave to bring a serious film about cute boys in leather being in love to mainstream screens. Hopefully, the pendulum won't have swung too far back the other way by the time it's released in 2005, because it sounds like it could be REAL good. BTW, both Jake and Heath are not only straight but currently dating two of Hollywood's most gorgeous blondes, Kirsten Dunst and Naomi Watts, respectively.

jake and heath.jpg

0) $paginate_current_page = 0; $paginate_sections = array( 0 ); $paginate_top_section = $paginate_sections[$paginate_current_page-1]+1; $paginate_bottom_section = $paginate_sections[$paginate_current_page]; } else { $paginate_top_section = 1; $paginate_bottom_section = 0; } $paginate_self = '&' . $_SERVER['QUERY_STRING'] . '&'; $paginate_self = preg_replace("/&page=[^&]*&/", "&", $paginate_self); $paginate_self = substr($paginate_self, 1, strlen($paginate_self) - 1); if($paginate_self == '&') $paginate_self = ''; else $paginate_self = htmlentities($paginate_self); $paginate_self = basename($_SERVER['PHP_SELF']) . "?${paginate_self}page"; ?> Posted by Kristina at March 10, 2004 11:10 PM

OMG!!, someone get me a towel...or maybe a swimming pool...i've got enough drool to drown a school of cute hollyboys

we'll go see on opening night!

Posted by: cody at March 11, 2004 07:35 AM

get your towel ready again b/c here are a couple pics I forgot to put in the original posting:

Dustin Hoffman stripping Jake

Susan Sarandon and Dustin Hoffman laughing at Jake

Posted by: Kristina at March 11, 2004 08:28 AM

hyperventilating from the pictures.

i'm very excited, don't get me wrong. but i'm also having trouble seeing heath ledger play someone in love with another boy. jake, no problem--but heath? hmmm.... i look forward to being delightfully surprised though.

Posted by: michele at March 11, 2004 09:27 AM

I've read the script although it might have been revised since I read it and it's truly going to be an amazing movie. Michelle Williams of Dawson's Creek stardom is set to play Gyllenhaal's wife, I believe. The story is really tear jerkingly touching.

Posted by: Clint at March 11, 2004 03:58 PM

I also forgot to mention that one of the sex scenes is jaw droppingly hot. I'll be very interested to see what the editors do with that one.

Posted by: Clint at March 11, 2004 04:04 PM

Looks like the backlash is here already:

Massachusetts legislature makes steps toward banning same-sex marriages

California Supreme Court stays same-sex marriages

Posted by: Kristina at March 12, 2004 10:35 AM

Brokeback Mountain update:

Although production has only just begun on the movie Brokeback Mountain, which concerns two cowboys, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, who fall in love, controversy has already arisen over published reports that director Ang Lee intends to delete a scene in which the two actors kiss. In an interview with the Malaysian Star, Gyllenhaal said, "We were all talking about the kissing in the movie just recently. Clearly, it's pretty challenging material, but Ang said two men herding sheep was far more sexual than two men having sex on screen." His remarks were derided on several gay-oriented Internet chat sites. (Gus Van Sant, the director originally attached to the film, had directed Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix, who played male hustlers, in a kissing scene in the 1991 film My Own Private Idaho.)

Posted by: Clint at June 17, 2004 05:48 PM

Is two men kissing in a Hollywood movie commercially viable? That's what Ang has to consider, no matter how much he insists it's a matter of artistic vision.

Posted by: cody at June 18, 2004 02:05 PM

Good question. Hands up everybody who would pay good money to see a movie with two hot boys kissing?

All right, look, guys, only one hand each. No, you can't raise your feet. No, you can't raise your head either. And stop drooling. You'll get kicked out of the theater for that.

Posted by: Dianna at June 18, 2004 02:14 PM

Ang Lee also wrote and directed The Wedding Banquet, which showed the main (gay) characters kissing and groping each other. While this was independent film and didn't feature anyone nearly as famous as Heath and Jake, I think this shows Ang isn't afraid to go there, so any cuts in Brokeback Mountain will almost definitely be due to studio pressure rather than Ang himself.

Posted by: Kristina at June 18, 2004 02:33 PM

That's what I was implying. He has no choice but to consider the financial impact of men kissing onscreen.

It definitely appeals to me. Probably less so to "The Passion" crowd.

Posted by: cody at June 18, 2004 02:48 PM

Considering the vast number of straight women that watch Queer as Folk, I don't think it would really be a problem. The people that would have a problem seeing two men kiss on screen are the same people who would have a problem seeing a romatic momie involving two men and won't be buying a ticket anyway.

Posted by: clint at June 18, 2004 03:13 PM

That's a good point - if you're going to the movie at all, probably the kiss will not make or break it.

I think it may depend a great deal on how expensive the film is. "My Own Private Idaho" is a good comparison: arty director, and two handsome, comemrcially-viable stars. That one cost $2.5 mil, and grossed $6.4 mil. It's also a really weird movie - I don't think cutting the kissing would have led to higher grosses.

"The Wedding Banquet" was a more mainstream story; it featured gay characters, but had a much more conventional plot structure. It cost $1 mil, and grossed $7 mil in the US, $30 mil internationally.

I can see how and why they'd cut the kiss, but it surprises me that Universal would agree to make a movie of a story that has a homosexual relationship as its central plot point, yet shy away from any actual depiction of that. OK, it doesn't surprise me, but it seems illogical.

My prediciton is, the bigger the film's budget, the less likely a screen kiss is.

Posted by: sean at June 18, 2004 04:06 PM

I just hate media self-censorship in the name of what "audiences" "want" or "don't want". Universal doesn't know that, they're just speculating using some kind of bullshit arm-chair/marketing psychology and fucking up Ang's vision in the process. I also agree that if the movie is totally about gay ranchers, a kiss or two isn't going to prevent anyone who was going to see it from seeing it, and if people complain, the movie company should just be like, "well, you KNEW the characters were going to be gay..."

Posted by: Kristina at June 18, 2004 04:15 PM

Ho-mo on the range,
where the gays and the lesbians play
in haystacks and barns
they've all got big beefy arms
and there's always enough time for a lay.

Posted by: cody at June 18, 2004 04:20 PM

Weinstein Bros./Miramax take it one step further and shoot the footage and then edit the film based on responses from test audiences. Do we hand finger paint out at the entrance to the Louvre and ask patrons to add their own flair to the Mona Lisa? I think not.

Posted by: clint at June 18, 2004 05:06 PM

Wait, don't *all* studios edit films based on test audiences? That's the reason (WARNING: SPOILER) Glenn Close dies at the end of "Fatal Attraction", and is the inspiration for the B-plot of "The Player". It's not unique to Miramax by any means.

I would recommend the original short story, "Brokeback Mountain", as well as the rest of Annie Proulx's oeuvre, if you like stories about Wyoming and/or cowboys. They're in the New Yorker pretty regularly, a magazine which has finally stopped coming to my apartment for free, after a magical 30-month run.

Posted by: sean at June 19, 2004 12:20 AM

There is a distinct difference between Fatal Attraction versus what Miramax does. Changes were made to Fatal Attraction with the help of the director after test audience feedback. Harvey and his bunch would buy the rights to foreing and independent films like "Cinema Paradiso", "The Thin Blue Line", "Pelle the Conqueror", "Scandal", "The Little Thief" and then re-edit or even re-shoot without the directors. They would hire kids straight out of NYU film school to shoot the additional scenes.

"I just felt that it was like taking someone's baby and telling the parent, I'm gonna operate on it when they think it is perfectly fine. A lot of these people were really seasoned directors. They'd obviously made a work of art. Maybe embarassed was the right word for what I felt. At the end of my career there, I realized that it wasn't the right way for me to be creative, because I was being creative with someone else's work." - Diana Tauder, who worked in post-production at Miramax from 93-99.

The indsutry calls him Harvey Scissorhands. Other studios might do it, but he has the reputation for being ugly about it.

Posted by: clint at June 19, 2004 04:06 AM

Studio self-censorship, test audience glorification, folding to the moral and (anti)intellectual whims of the MPAA... whatever you call it and whatever the source, I just don't think that "artists" should have to bow to the opinions and (often irrational) fears of average Joe's that think they know what's best for the informed, adult (or young adult) viewing public. No one could possibly argue that Jake and Heath kissing on screen is "obscene" or even offensive to those who are going to see this movie. Isn't the integrity of the story and the vision of all those involved in the film more important than (the fear of) a few lost dollars at the box office from people who are so homophobic and/or intolerant that they can't see a male-male kiss in a movie about gay cowboys? One of the major reasons we have the freedom of speech is to freely and openly express our ideas and progress and grow as a society. While "Brokeback Mountain" isn't going to drastically change the course of gay rights in America, it is making a statement that I think Ang and the rest of those involved in the film should be allowed to make as they see fit. Repressing that statement is basically saying that America isn't ready for or willing to accept a Jake-Heath kiss and I just don't think that's actually true. Government isn't the only source of censorship; societal pressure is often a greater force when it comes to maintaining the status quo and I like that movies such as this are making a statement and I can only hope that Ang will make a stand and not let the haters push him around.

Posted by: Kristina at June 19, 2004 10:07 AM

Preach on sista! They're just kissing. One thing that I'm am actually glad has been removed (I'm assuming) from the script is the sex scene. In the last version of the script that I read, it was pretty hot and heavy and as much as I'd like to see Jake and Heath go at it, I think it would distract people from seeing that these two characters are in fact in love and not just giving in to their libidinous urges.

Posted by: clint at June 19, 2004 10:53 AM

I agree. Focusing on the love story is much more important than the getting-it-on scene; but I feel that way about every movie.

Posted by: Kristina at June 19, 2004 11:05 AM

I bow to Clint's superior knowledge on Harvey Weinstein - I didn't know he edited foreign films like that.

I'm not sure what the "statement" this film will be making, or if that will be significantly different with or without an open-mouthed man-man smooch. Movie studios are large corporations, so in general, the answer to the (rhetorical) question, "Isn't the integrity of the story and the vision of all those involved in the film more important than (the fear of) a few lost dollars at the box office?" is, no.

The more money you take from someone else to create your "vision", the more they can tell you what to do. This is true with directors and movie studios, this is true with startup companies and venture capitalists. It's kind of sad, but I don't think it's in the same category as censorship and free speech rights.

Besides, it's not clear from the above posting, which sparked all this discussion, that Ang Lee is getting pushed around by a studio at all. His artistic choice might well be to focus more on the sheep. Maybe he shot the kissing scene and it wasn't that hot. And maybe Miramax will buy the rights and edit it into something totally unrecognizable. We just don't know enough to yell "Censorship!" yet.

Posted by: sean at June 19, 2004 11:18 AM

They just started shooting on the 14th according to imdbPro so I doubt they would have shot it already, unless Ang is the type of director to shoot those types of scenes the first day.

As for being a Harvey officionado. I only brought it up because I'm reading "Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film" and it applied to what we were talking about. Sorry if I came off as saucy.

Posted by: clint at June 19, 2004 12:17 PM

Common', we all know I love nothing more than to yell "Censorship!" in a crowded room ;) ...mostly because it is more pernicious that you would think and I think that people are too ready, willing and able to let it slide when it really doesn't have to be that way. I just disagree with artistic compromises in general, and think that as long as something is not obscene, it should be allowed to stand. Sure, I'm delving into some speculation here, but I thought that was understood... and I like saucy.

Posted by: Kristina at June 21, 2004 06:30 AM

Color me Ragu!

Posted by: clint at June 21, 2004 09:15 AM