January 7th, 2006

msauvage purple

Sold-out Mountain

So I just saw Brokeback Mountain. And the whole situation was very odd. Let me take a moment to remind you that I'm in Birmingham, Alabama, and we had been waiting and waiting and waiting for the movie to get here, to the point where most people thought it wasn't ever coming, or might only come to Montgomery (even though I think of Birmingham as the cultural capital of the state, but whatever). In fact, the only reason most of us had any hope at all was that the Rave employees started wearing Brokeback Mountain t-shirts last weekend, ensuring that anyone who bought so much as a Butterfinger knew that it was coming... sometime. So the Lovely Emily heard that it was here today, and up we went.

We got there for the seven-whatever showing and the place was packed--hilariously, a bunch of frattish guys were deeply disappointed that this particular Rave was not showing Hostel. But the Brokeback showing? Sold out. Quickly we bought tickets for the 10:30 and flailed about for something to do until our friend Jeff got off work; we had thought about either having a double feature of Brokeback Mountain and Rumor Has It, or seeing one movie and meeting some people for drinks afterwards. Of course, once the tickets were bought for 10:30, we were stuck with that, and ended up wandering around Brookwood and buying books. But as we left the theater, there was a woman out front with a large group of people announcing, in museum guide tones, that the seven-whatever was sold out. I seriously got the feeling that they all came together on a bus or something.

So we met Jeff at about 8:30; hung out eating at Moe's Southwestern for a while; drank beer in the Rave parking deck (well, they did; I'm not on speaking terms with beer) and tested out our gaydar. Not that it needed much exercise; I have never seen so many gay men in one parking lot in my life. Gay men in tight sweaters, gay men with insouciant cigarettes, gay men wearing cowboy hats. A lot of cowboy hats, actually--the screening room itself was peppered with them. Not that I should talk; I broke in my new boots (but they were really more of a scrunchy ankle boot. Still, I walked like a cowboy all night. I think). I saw what I think were a few lesbian couples, myself, but there were also gaggles of younger girls and what I guess were straight couples. But a lot of people, and an equal number who walked up there and then had to come right back down to the deck upon discovering that the entire night was sold out. The funniest part was when people would recognize each other in the lot and start helloing and hugging--hell, if I'd known it was going to be the social event of the season, I might have put on a little eyeshadow.

So we sit down in the theater (the 10:30 had also sold out earlier in the evening, so we had to part company with poor Jeff at that point, although we attempted to mastermind several schemes to smuggle him in). The Rave has stopped showing some of the cheesier "Who starred in whatever movie with Bruce Willis?" quiz questions and started showing... really bizarre cartoons. I have no idea. But as of December, they had started showing some really weird shit. We sat down and they were showing something about a baboon and squirrel or something splurting banana into their faces, which was how I figured out that a large gay contingent was in the back half of the theater--I'm not sure if the innuendo was intentional, but the back rows sure as hell picked up on it.

So. We noticed that people were up and moving around in large numbers, and I'm not sure if they found an extra screening room (a la our trip to Pride and Prejudice) and shuffled people in there, because an announcement was never made. But then, about five minutes until showtime, a youngish guy in the suit gets up at the front of the room and announces that he's glad to have us there, and that we need to turn off our personal electronic devices, and that the Rave, or this Rave, we're not sure which, has the exclusive on Brokeback Mountain screenings. Again, I don't know if this means "only the Rave gets to show it in Alabama," or "only this Rave gets to show it in Birmingham," or even in the whole damn state. But there seemed to be something a bit momentous about it. Meanwhile, I took my feet down off the railing because I was afraid we were about to get read the riot act. But this manager, "Mr. Adams," informed us that he would be out in the lobby, and there would be other managers out there as well ("All praise, you can bring it to me," he quips. "Complaints, you can see the other managers..."), and if there was any interference in our enjoyment of the movie, we were to go get one of them.

This was a little scary. That we were getting a talk from the manager was odd enough; but given that we were, I was expecting him to tell us all to behave. Like, "Oh, we need to tell the people from the sticks how to behave in a theater." Or to tell us city folk to keep it down and not act up in front of good Kong-fearing moviegoers. I mean, a big ol' whatever on both accounts, but that's what I was expecting. Instead... as the Lovely Emily phrased it, it was like they wanted to acknowledge the political import of showing this movie. Or something. Like they were expecting... disturbances. 

Which was a little silly (unless something went down at the seven-whatever that I'm just not privy to), because the audience was definitely there because it wanted to be there. It was enthusiastic at the beginning, but quietened down to a dead electric hush here and there--not through the entire movie, because, believe it or not, the movie actually is very funny. The movie doesn't play those scenes for comedy, exactly--it's actually very realistic, very naturalistic, but Ennis (the Heath Ledger character) has a laconic wit of his own, and there are several scenes that are just funny because life is funny, and sometimes you laugh because it's just so awkward that it's the only response you know. What I'm saying is, none of the laughter seemed homophobic, but rather in honest enjoyment of the movie. The audience was peaceable, and we had no riots or protests or whatever the management seemed to be concerned about.

I have a little more to say about the movie itself, but it's almost 2 am and I am frickin' tired. Night, y'all.

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