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Author Topic: Reactions to Brokeback by friends, family & audiences  (Read 337796 times)

Offline Melisande

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Reactions to Brokeback by friends, family & audiences
« on: January 05, 2006, 09:29:41 PM »
Did the audience laugh when Alma looked out the door? Did you go with a friend who didn't love it as much as you do? Are you still friends with that person? What's the audience reaction in Iowa City compared to that in San Francisco? What did your husband or boyfriend think of it? We love it - what about everyone else?   
« Last Edit: May 12, 2006, 09:19:00 AM by Dave Cullen »
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Offline jack

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Re: Audience, Friends and Family Reactions to the Movie
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2006, 05:47:42 AM »
mixed chuckle and gasp when alma sees the kiss, followed by stunned silence as she cries and the audience realized what this is doing to her world.  mixed audience, one group of about 8 youngish gay men, a scattering of solo males, quite a few couples, generally over 40 audience.  sold out for a noon show in what i take to have been one of the smaller venues at an 18 theatre multiplex.

the thanksgiving blowup scene very well received, apparently a welcome moment of tension relief.  quietest audience in recent memory, although i was blowing my nose at intervals.  no one got up to pee or buy refreshments.  a few people clapped at the end.

people departed, as someone else said, as if leaving a funeral, talking in hushed whispers.

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« Last Edit: January 07, 2006, 07:46:52 AM by jack »
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Offline waynerman

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Re: Audience, Friends and Family Reactions to the Movie
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2006, 08:08:05 AM »
Here in the Kansas City metro area, BBM is showing, for now, only on four art house screens. I happened to see the film in Overland Park, Kansas, a very conservative part of the metro. I was there with my partner, and we were both surprised that there were few other gay couples evident in the sellout crowd. The audience was, by far, female. Some lesbians, to be sure, but I would say mostly straight women. The two women who sat next to me were obviously a mother and her middle-aged daughter...could be they couldn't get their husbands to go with them.

I was furious, by the way, that at this particular art house the 7:00 pm showing was held in its smallest theater, an auditorium obviously not designed for film screenings and seating only about 100. The screen in this theater is almost ridiculously small. I have seen many small, independent films on this screen and that has been fine. But is it just plan wrong to show a picture that has a advance reputation for its cinematography in such a room, on such a tiny screen. Oh, I was fuming!

Need I say, though, that soon after the film began I was so absorbed that it didn't matter that I was seeing it on a small screen?

The audience was mostly quiet throughout the picture. The humorous bits were warmly appreciated and seemed to offer some "relief" from the more serious scenes. I didn't notice any untimely sniggers or other homophobic reactions. I was very surprised, though, that there were few displays of emotion toward the end. I heard a few sniffles around me, that was all...meanwhile I was crying like a baby for what seemed like, oh, at least the last 20 minutes of the picture. My partner tends not to show emotion in movie theaters, and was quite stoic about the whole thing, though he did say he nearly broke down and wept when Willie started singing "He Was a Friend of Mine."

We sat all the way through the closing credits, as we usually do. One of the two women sitting next to my partner (there were no men sitting anywhere near us) said she couldn't wait to go out and get the soundtrack. They stayed all the way through the credits also, though most people didn't. I was very conscious of those few who were still seated as we left the auditorium. It was a lot like leaving a memorial service, I didn't want to disturb anyone who was still in a meditative or contemplative state.

Out in the lobby, a few straight, middle-aged couples who had come to the screening together were engaged in conversation. Apparently--remember, this is Kansas--they had not been previously aware that homosexuals sometimes enter into heterosexual marriages. I heard one of the women say, with sympathy, "He got married because that was the only kind of love he could have." (I think she was speaking of Ennis, though I'm not sure.)

I'm somewhat embarrassed by the length of this post, and I'm supposed to be working (!), so I'll stop here. Thank you all.
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Offline peteinportland

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Re: Audience, Friends and Family Reactions to the Movie
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2006, 09:49:19 AM »
I work as a Director of Training for a restaurant group. My position places me in many of our restaurants along the West Coast where I deal with a wide range of staff and guests. Interestingly, I have overheard several conversations about BBM.

One server is a straight woman in her mid thirties who I overheard say, "I saw this movie last night, and I can't get it out of my head. It has stuck with me like no movie I have ever seen." Of course, I asked her, "What movie?" Of course, she replied, BBM.

Another young waiter (21, I think) who is straight and a budding screen writer came up to me and one of my trainers and said, "I went with my mom to see BBM last night to see what all the fuss was about." "And?" I asked. His reply: "It is the best movie I have ever seen."

I was talking with an older couple who were guests in one of our restaurants. Probably late 50's. They told me they had just seen King Kong at the theater next door and didn't like it. I told them I wanted to see it but kept going back to see BBM. The woman said (an almost reverent look on her face), "BBM is the best movie of the year." Her husband nodded in agreement.

Another waiter in his mid 40s (straight) told me he had went home to Albuquerque for xmas. he said he and his extended family were trying to decide on a movie. "We almost went to see BBM, but my mom and I both really wanted to see that on our own without having a bunch of people with us." According to him, the rest of the extended family all had plans to see the movie.

Note, that I started none of these conversations nor asked for people's reaction. All fo this was unsolicited. Also, I have not heard this level of conversation about a movie in a long time.

Offline CellarDweller115

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Re: Audience, Friends and Family Reactions to the Movie
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2006, 10:14:00 AM »
Both times I've seen it, it's been in the same theater, with a mixed crowd of older/younger/straight/gay.  Reactions have remained the same.

Some laughing and gasps at Alma seeing the kiss.

Ohhhh's when Ennis receives the postcard stamped "Deceased".

Gasps when the bashing scene takes place.

Sniffles when Ennis removes the jacket from Jack's closet and hugs it.



I took my mother to the Monday viewing after Christmas.  She loved it.

I took 5 of my friends to the Monday viewing after New Year's.  They also loved it.  I was worried about one friend in particular.  (Tina)  She is harsh on all films she watches.  Hated "Titanic", hated "Pearl Harbor", was disappointed with "Walk The Line".

She called me the next day to thank me for taking her to Brokeback, said it was one of the best films she had seen, and called a few people to recommend it to them.

« Last Edit: January 06, 2006, 10:16:37 AM by CellarDweller115 »

Offline MSPJeff

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Re: Audience, Friends and Family Reactions to the Movie
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2006, 11:40:48 AM »
Having seen it eight times (so far ::) ), I've found recently I've kept one eye on the movie, and the other on the crowd.

BBM opened in a couple of different "art house" screens here in Minneapolis initially, then expanded to the suburban gigaplexes.  Not only were the art houses packed, so have the suburban stadiums been as well.  Mostly I've noticed the same reactions at the same spots that others have mentioned above, but one thing strikes me repeatedly and I must say has pleasantly surprised me.

Especially in the 'burbs, I have to admit I was somewhat braced for negative reactions in the crowd to the initial sex-in-the-tent scene, and perhaps even more for the sweetly beautiful love scene the second time.  Again at the reunion on the landing, or even during the "spooning" conversation in the motel afterwards.

But the anticipated snickering or verbalizations have never materialized.  Abidingly, each audience has been quiet and observant, even the silver-haired or mom & pop crowds.  I find I'm somewhat ashamed of myself for having automatically underrated straight suburbia's reaction to such undeniable passion on the screen.  To the majority's credit, they seem to be viewing it as just that:  Undeniable passion, not simply "the gay stuff" or "passion, yes, but between two men."

It strikes me that this is a testament to a number of things.  To more "tolerance" than I'd anticipated from a straight crowd, yes, but also to the exemplary timing and storytelling skills of the author, the writers, the director and the actors.  A woman friend of mine, who'd initially commented on BBM as "that gay cowboy movie", wept openly throughout the end of the story.  By the time of the flashback scene (the "dozy embrace"), she said she'd had to remind herself that she was witnessing something unusual ... the love and the tragedy were so evident and so universal that the fact that she was witnessing two men was all but unnoticed by her.

I think it's phenomenal -- in the truest sense of that word -- that not only such a superlative story has been made and seen, but that it's already become such a tool for discussion and understanding among and between audiences of all genders and preferences.
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Offline M. Alexander

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Re: Audience, Friends and Family Reactions to the Movie
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2006, 12:56:11 PM »
Time to vent again, with people who understand.

With an old, dear friend - who was a BBM virgin (hadn't seen the film or read the story) - I went to see our favorite movie last night for the 3rd - and best yet - time. It is clear to me now that this is a classic. The more you see it, the more you see and understand. I'd read the story countless times since it first appeared in the New Yorker years ago and thought I knew it inside out. Well, last night I learned some more.

SPOILER: One scene that stood out for me was when their Brokeback summer was coming to an end. Ennis is sitting in the meadow by himself, alone, processing that this chapter of his life is now over. Jack comes up, ropes him, and ever the optimist tries to make light of their parting. But Ennis, not even able to figure out his feelings himself, lashes out and it comes to real fighting. Jack says "Ennis, Ennis" (heartbreaking) but Ennis ain't buyin' it. Then of course, after they've parted and Ennis breaks down, retching in the alleyway, unable to comprehend what has happened to him. The power of the retching scene had hit me from the first time I saw it, but it was only this time that Ennis' utter aloneness was brought home, seeing him there sitting in the meadow.

I just reveled in seeing all the minute eye contact that goes on between Jack and Ennis, right from the get-go. Ennis may not know what's going on, but he's interested right from the start. And Jack? That boy knows a good thing when he sees it!

The scene with Jack's beaten down, but all-knowing mother is just so amazing. The economy of gesture and feeling. If you all haven't yet gone on the link "Others" on Jake, Heath, etc. be sure to do so. The interview with Roberta Maxwell, the actress who so brilliantly plays the role, is just wonderful.

My friend - 78 years old - was just bowled over by this movie. We walked home together, clinging to one another. (One of the benefits of living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Nobody gives a shit to see a couple of men holding on to one another.) That is one of the residuals of this film, too: appreciation of the love we ourselves have (or don't have) in our lives, whether it be from a lover, a friend or a family member. Being grateful for what we have. The deep hurt, of course, is seeing how Jack and Ennis were unable to fully have what they so deserved: the fully realized love of one another.

My audience last night was wonderful. Similar to what others have described: nearly full house, mixed couples, many older folks, some younger women, some gay couples. Attentive from the start and deeply respectful. Smattering of applause at the finish. Totally silent exits. I think maybe our fears that American audiences wouldn't get this movie are indeed short of the mark. Quality is always apparent. Oh, how grateful I am to be alive to see this wonderful story brought to life on the screen and carried forth in the hearts of those of us who've seen it.

Thanks for letting me vent!

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Re: Audience, Friends and Family Reactions to the Movie
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2006, 12:58:50 PM »
Especially in the 'burbs, I have to admit I was somewhat braced for negative reactions in the crowd to the initial sex-in-the-tent scene, and perhaps even more for the sweetly beautiful love scene the second time. ...  
 I find I'm somewhat ashamed of myself for having automatically underrated straight suburbia's reaction to such undeniable passion on the screen. 

Jeff, I smiled at your post since I'm a "straight suburnite" and was braced for the same negative reactions (from the audience, not ME). In 4 viewings of the "tent scenes", I heard not one peep out of my fellow moviegoers. In fact, except for laughter at mostly appropriate places, and of course lots of crying, they are the quietest theaters I've ever been in. Everyone seems so focused and reverent.

I'm wondering if the people seeing it now were well-prepared by reading reviews on what to expect.

Offline WLAGuy

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Re: Audience, Friends and Family Reactions to the Movie
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2006, 02:05:44 PM »

I'm wondering if the people seeing it now were well-prepared by reading reviews on what to expect.

Lynn, I don't think any amount of reading reviews can prepare you for what you see up there on the screen.

Offline Dathan

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Re: Audience, Friends and Family Reactions to the Movie
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2006, 02:35:11 PM »
In the ZEST section for this coming Sunday's paper(here in Houston TX) there is a long story entitled: "Going for Brokeback A tale of two audiences:one gay, one straight". It is written by Vance Muse director of the Menil Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.  He tells of going to the arthouse River Oaks (where I've seen it twice).  The first signs of laughter is at the first tent scene--same when I went.  Then he said they roared when Alma sees Ennis and Jack on steps--again same when I went.  But as I remember too he says the audience grew quiet and remained so and there was wide spread weeping by the end.  But he said he could not shake "the memory or the aesthetic damage of the inappropriate laughter."   
He decided he must return to Brokeback Mountain but at a new venue in Northwest Houston.  He goes on to say that the audience was full of teens and twenty-somethings.  He was apprehensive and said he "held his breath" during the first tent scene but "the young audience watched in silence".  The article continues with him questioning the behavior of so many gays in the first showing.. Were/are they cynical or are we used to seeing gays vilified on screen?
A good article, there's been one every week in the paper for one reason or the other.  Sorry I suck at sending links but it is by Vance Muse in the Houston Chronicle Zest section for this Sunday.
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Offline ruth

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Re: Audience, Friends and Family Reactions to the Movie
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2006, 02:54:00 PM »
I am going to see it for only the second time tonight (can't wait!) with my friend, who is single, female and...I'm not sure what orientation, we really haven't gotten into that discussion! She cracks me up. Our conversation went something like this:

Me:  Do you want to go see "Brokeback Mountain" with me tonight?

Her: Shit yeah! Heath Ledger making out with Matt Damon! I am so down with that action.

Me:  It's not Matt Damon. It's Jake Gyllenhaal.

Her:  Who? Dude, I'm tellin' ya, it's Matt Damon.

Me:  No it's not. Matt Damon does not make out with Heath Ledger in this film.

Her: Jake Gyllen-whatsis makes out with Matt Damon?

Me:  NO!! Matt Damon makes out with NO ONE in this film! He's not even IN it!! Matt Damon gets NONE!

Her:  Oh....well now I don't know if I want to see it. Man, I play my "Knights' Tale" DVD all the *&%in' time and I've been thinking, "Dude I can't WAIT to watch that guy make it with Matt Damon.... "


And so it went. But she is going with me tonight. I'll have to let you know how it goes.

Offline Radha

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Re: Audience, Friends and Family Reactions to the Movie
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2006, 04:16:21 PM »
In the ZEST section for this coming Sunday's paper(here in Houston TX) there is a long story entitled: "Going for Brokeback A tale of two audiences:one gay, one straight". It is written by Vance Muse director of the Menil Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.  He tells of going to the arthouse River Oaks (where I've seen it twice).  The first signs of laughter is at the first tent scene--same when I went.  Then he said they roared when Alma sees Ennis and Jack on steps--again same when I went.  But as I remember too he says the audience grew quiet and remained so and there was wide spread weeping by the end.  But he said he could not shake "the memory or the aesthetic damage of the inappropriate laughter."   
He decided he must return to Brokeback Mountain but at a new venue in Northwest Houston.  He goes on to say that the audience was full of teens and twenty-somethings.  He was apprehensive and said he "held his breath" during the first tent scene but "the young audience watched in silence".  The article continues with him questioning the behavior of so many gays in the first showing.. Were/are they cynical or are we used to seeing gays vilified on screen?
A good article, there's been one every week in the paper for one reason or the other.  Sorry I suck at sending links but it is by Vance Muse in the Houston Chronicle Zest section for this Sunday.

When I watched it at the River Oaks, There was absolute silence during all of the love scenes. Not a sound from anyone. There was laughter in most of the other scenes as people have previously mentioned - When Alma sees them, Jack's showdown with his FIL, and his line about it being a goddamn bitch of a unsatisfactory situation, etc.

Still waiting to see it again.....
« Last Edit: January 06, 2006, 04:18:26 PM by Radha »

Offline WLAGuy

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Re: Audience, Friends and Family Reactions to the Movie
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2006, 04:24:53 PM »
In the ZEST section for this coming Sunday's paper(here in Houston TX) there is a long story entitled: "Going for Brokeback A tale of two audiences:one gay, one straight". It is written by Vance Muse director of the Menil Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.  He tells of going to the arthouse River Oaks (where I've seen it twice).  The first signs of laughter is at the first tent scene--same when I went.  Then he said they roared when Alma sees Ennis and Jack on steps--again same when I went.  But as I remember too he says the audience grew quiet and remained so and there was wide spread weeping by the end.  But he said he could not shake "the memory or the aesthetic damage of the inappropriate laughter."   
He decided he must return to Brokeback Mountain but at a new venue in Northwest Houston.  He goes on to say that the audience was full of teens and twenty-somethings.  He was apprehensive and said he "held his breath" during the first tent scene but "the young audience watched in silence".  The article continues with him questioning the behavior of so many gays in the first showing.. Were/are they cynical or are we used to seeing gays vilified on screen?
A good article, there's been one every week in the paper for one reason or the other.  Sorry I suck at sending links but it is by Vance Muse in the Houston Chronicle Zest section for this Sunday.

As far as I can tell it's not online yet, Dathan.  It looks like a great article, too.  I'll try to remember to check back this coming Sunday or Monday.

Offline Dathan

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Re: Audience, Friends and Family Reactions to the Movie
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2006, 04:45:51 PM »
Radha I'm glad you did.  Thats why i was looking forward to it expanding and hopefully coming out Sugar Land way but I definitely want to see it with a suburban audience and in a new theatre so I can understand Ennis better. :)
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Offline terry

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Re: Audience, Friends and Family Reactions to the Movie
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2006, 10:08:44 PM »
  While waiting for Chronicles of Narnia to start, a couple of women behind me started talking about how great a movie season this has been.  They brought up numerous films and one of them was Brokeback Mountain.  They talked about how good it was and they thought that Heath and Jake could pass as a real couple (Yeaahaaaw!!!).  Seriously, they said that both guys did a great job, especially Heath.  One even wondered if it was based on a true story.  I was gonna tell them the author's name but then the movie started.  Just an FYI, after BBM, Narnia is my second favorite movie of the year!!!