Brokeback Mountain

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Ok, I know this one is super late, but I'm posting anyways.

I had some problems with this movie. My main issue with it has always been that it again plays into patriarchy by giving gay male culture a spotlight and leaving queer women in the cinematic closet more or less. I do believe it's important to give cinematic attention to queer male culture, but not at the expense of leaving other perspectives in the dark. This movie came out when I was in high school and didn't really know anything about indie films, so from my point of view pretty much every queer movie ever made (which isn't a lot) was about queer men. Aside from my past issue with the movie, after watching it, I felt that the two characters were both hyper-masculine, which sort of detracted from the portrayal of queerness because not all men (queer and otherwise) feel the need to fight and spit and brood constantly. On top of this, there's the fact that both men cheat on their wives, and break their hearts. I understand that given the time period of the story the two men really couldn't run off and co-habitate, but still, it plays into that negative assumption that queerness ruins families, and that really bothers me.

Reaction

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I think the most important thing that came about from this class for me was a greater awareness of what goes into queer movies and the things they perpetuate. Usually I'm just so ecstatic when I see a queer movie coming out that I don't even pay attention to the stereotypes and such, but now I feel more critical of what's being created and said by queer cinema. As for a favorite movie, I'm very torn between But I'm a Cheerleader and By Hook or By Crook. I kind of tore apart But I'm a Cheerleader in one of my papers, but I honestly loved this movie, it was adorable and hilarious and I feel like you don't often see lesbians at the core of queer cinema, I feel like gay male culture gets more limelight so to speak, so seeing a budding lesbian relationship was nice. By Hook or By Crook was great because of it's family and romantic dynamics. I really really love that the romantic aspect in this movie was very downplayed while the comradery of the main characters was the central point. The gender neutrality was also a very cool aspect, and it worked very fluidly which I didn't expect. I also like that queerness wasn't the main point of the storyline, but instead friendship and loyalty was more the focal point in my opinion. It's nice to have queerness as a focal point now and then because its definitely an important thing, but at the same time, I feel like sometimes queerness is focused on too much when there are other parts of life that are also important, such as friendship, loyalty, class and race, etc.

Reaction!

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I would say that the most important development to me would be the characters and how believable they were while portraying queer images. Rather if they were actually queer or playing queer characters. It was so interesting. Coming from someone that never really payed too much attention to queer cinema before, this class was fascinating! As for favorites, Brokeback Mountain and the Birdcage take the cake. They were so realistic and I went home with a different perspective of queer cinema than I had before watching the two. The excessiveness of the other films didn't do it for me. They weren't bad movies at all, but they were the "queer" that i thought of before knowing that i categorized these types of films (not sure how to explain my thought). But they were the stereotypical queer films. I feel that the next steps are more and more queer films in mainstream cinema. I can see if happening. Queer cinema is making it's mark.

Queer Cinema Reaction!

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I would say that the most important step that has been made in Queer Cinema is the expansion of accessibility for those who do not directly relate to being gay, lesbian or bisexual. The development of other sub-genres within the genre of Queer Cinema is something that will no doubt bolster the success of queer films in the future. After viewing all the films, I would say that I learned how vast the genre of Queer Cinema really is, previously believing it to be less documented. By comparing some of the other films we viewed this semester to By Hook or By Crook suggests that there is a very clear refusal of the mainstream going on in Queer Cinema, particularly after the rise of New Queer Cinema. While I personally am not as enthralled a the modestly budgeted, art film, I appreciate the breadth of material available to the queer community. My personal favorite film would probably be The Kids Are All Right because of not only its believability, but also because of how endearing I found the characters to be. While the film was met with criticism (as every film should) I think that the realistic portrayal of a family was hauntingly visceral and I even shed a few tears at the ending. I think one of the most interesting things that I observed in class was the understanding I came to have about film as a tool to influence the ideas of others. I realized that as queer films continue to increase in number, acceptance of the queer community into the zeitgeist is not only probable, but certain. Film has a unique way of forcing the viewer to perceive people and experiences in a certain way. I'm excited to see what the future has in store for queer cinema in the upcoming years.

Brokeback

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I think that Brokeback for me was my favorite of the films that we watched. There was not only great cinematic concepts, while examining this film I felt that there was so much done that created a multifaceted film beyond a black and white "gay" film. The themes that seemed to accompany many queer films like: tragedy, violence, struggle of acceptance or journey, are felt in this films on some level in films in which I would deem "authentic" queer cinema. Not all of them had to be extremely sad, that's not what I'm saying, but I do feel Brokeback's story-line without needing imagination, or fantasy was able to capture ones journey very effectively with such a beautiful and believable performance, that a lot of people can take away from.

Queer cinema

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I think that the most important development that I have seen in watching all of the films in the class has taken place in By Hook or By Crook. The thing that was the most groundbreaking was that they hardly mentioned queer identity at all, yet it was present the whole time. Both lead characters are very genderqueer, and maybe the only part I can remember that directly focused on gender identity is when a kid asked Shy "Are you a boy or a girl?" and he responded "both," and a brief scene in the bathroom where Shy and Val mentioned issues with their parents and clothing choices. Other than that, the plot had absolutely nothing to do with their gender identities or sexuality, but instead was largely focused on friendship and mental health. It was really refreshing to see a film where two main characters remain friends, and there is no drama in regards to someone sleeping with the wrong person, or romantic tribulations, that you see in almost ever other film ever, even the other "buddy films." Unfortunately, since this is such an indie film, I doubt there are many people who have seen it, especially non-queer identified people, so it is difficult to say that it is a major win for queer cinema.

Its difficult for me to pick a favorite film, because I liked most all of them. I have always loved The Birdcage, Priscilla, and Brokeback Mountain, but this is the first time I encountered But, I'm a Cheerleader, and I thought it was really great. The things that I like about the 3 former films is that they are all mainstream films that have brought queer existence into the public eye, most especially Brokeback Mountain. I mostly enjoy the Birdcage because I find it hilarious. With But I'm a Cheerleader I was confronted with an observation that I had not really even thought about before, the lack of female queer camp. I thought the movie was totally cute and funny, and it was really great to see a lesbian lead character in a campy film.

I think the next step would probably be to just feature more queer characters in film, (regardless of the plot) and try not to use so many tired, old stereotypes. I realize this seems to be difficult in most films, but I think that we have made a lot of progress over the years.

Queer Cinema*

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I think the most important development to me has been the transgression of queer men in films overall. From the "sissy" image to the more accepted image of the over the top gays of today, times have changed. I feel that the image has changed in that queers are not necessarily portrayed as the villain or the enemy. I have noticed that throughout all the films there has been diversity. There has been a story to be told in all the films I have watched. What I mean is that the director and producer sometimes got it right when trying to provide a glimpse into that particular gay couple or person's life. We need more portraying of queers and queer couple to show that everyone is similar really and normal. My favorite film would have to be The Bird Cage. Reason being is because of its freshness and originality. I feel that the movie has a touching storyline, but it is depicted in a way that doesn't leave a bad taste of discourse in your mouth. I want more films to exhibit the normality of queers and queer couples. I want the world to see more happy queer couples and families. This, I think will lead to a better understanding of the queer community.

Favorite Film!

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As first witnessed in The Celluloid Closet at the beginning of the semester, queer cinema has undergone many transformations over the years. Everything from horror to comedy films has included queer or GLBT characters. Some of these depictions have shed a positive light on the queer community while some have illustrated gay characters as evil beings, or characters worth laughing at and nothing else.

Something interesting I have been thinking about because of this class is how the queer community is divided on certain depictions of queer cinema. To some, films like The Kids are Alright and the Birdcage are positive because they illustrate that families with gay parents are "just like everybody else". On the other hand, some don't approve of the homonormative view of gay characters, and believe movies like Priscilla, Queen of the Desert do a better job of representing queer characters positively without making them be so "normal". There isn't one right answer, but regardless, I think queer cinema should always regard its characters as multifaceted characters rather than one-dimensional stereotypes.

To me, it seems in recent years (2000s), queer cinema has taken a step towards portraying queer themes in a realistic and compassionate way. Many filmmakers treat queer characters as real people with real intricacies rather than stereotypes. This is a step in a positive direction, and for this reason, my favorite film in this class has been By Hook or by Crook. This film doesn't dwell on the sexualities of its characters, and instead tells a moving story about friendship and family. I would like to see more queer films like this that have themes of compassion for others.

Bringing queer film principles to mainstream cinema

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The most important development for me, in queer cinema over the years, has been the broadening of the genre to include queer themes and characters in films that showcase something other than a romance or romantic relationship. For me, the most interesting films were Heavenly Creatures, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and By Hook or By Crook due to the themes of horror or friendship superseding the importance of the queerness (I also really enjoyed the two documentaries, The Celluloid Closet and Paris is Burning because of the break from a romance narrative).

I see the future of queer cinema moving toward this. The two biggest budget and most mainstream films we watched (Brokeback Mountain and The Kids are Alright (and indie film, yes, but starring some big names)) were so intent on showing romantic relationships between queer people. This is fine, I suppose, but very limiting. While it's important to have queer romance legitimized by widely-watched films (I had typed "by the Hollywood machine," but it sounded too cynical), I think it's more important to have queer existence legitimized next.

This means increasing numbers of queer characters (as well as queer actors and directors!) in "mainstream" films, where their identity or orientation are not the focus, but rather, a no-big-deal detail or a facet of an otherwise more complex story. It means that the audience doesn't get stuck on what these characters do when they're naked together, you know? Expression of sexuality is such a narrow way to see queer people--and it's something that queer cinema has managed to get past. Now hopefully the rest of filmmakers can, too.

Queer Cinema, By Hook or By Crook.

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What stands out for me when tracing a string connecting all the films we have watched and discussed over course are politics of representation. By this I mean the visibility of queer sexuality, gender, queer families and kinships, relationships, and bodies. Questions were raised regarding the purpose: Was it personal? Was it political? Was it authentic? In what ways is queerness deployed in film, by whom and for whom?

My favorite film(s) that we watched over the course were But I'm A Cheerleader (an old favorite), and By Hook or By Crook (which I had not seen until our viewing last Wednesday). I am pleased with the deployment of camp within But I'm a Cheerleader, both for the affect of humor, but also for the spaces and contexts in which more serious conversations can occur. When showing this film to friends, questions would come up about medicalization of LGBTQ folk and approaches of psychological violence through cognitive behavorial therapy and electroshock therapy. "Is this real?," folks would ask.

In By Hook or By Crook, I love how the possibility of queerness as central, rather than on the periphery, allows for the recognition of a queerness that is not read in comparison (or in opposition to) heteronormativity. The depiction is not utopic. This isn't because there is something less desirable about queerness, but because life in general can be incredibly complicated, trying, and messy at times. I believe it presents an aspect of realness.

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