Author Topic: A Ninth Viewing Observation  (Read 129540 times)

Offline serious crayons

  • Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 19,101
Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #30 on: May 16, 2006, 07:01:56 pm »
Can someone please PM Ang, Diana or Larry and Annie and ask what the hell is going on in this movie??

 O0

And while you're at it, PM Heath or Jake and get the answer on that "s'alright" thing.

Offline Aussie Chris

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • Brokeback Got Me Good
  • *****
  • Posts: 613
Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #31 on: May 16, 2006, 09:57:01 pm »
Last week when I watched BBM with a friend (it was her first viewing) she just freaked out at the Randall scene.  And, I don't quite know why it struck such a nerve with her.  She said something like... "oh no, this guy is trouble."

Strewth - I just noticed this thread and the discussion about Randall, ya gotta be on your toes around here! ;)

Hey Amanda & Katherine, back in Feb I tried to talk a bit about Randall at TOB and at the time no one seemed to be overly interested (or at least they thought I was stretching my reading-between-the-lines a bit too far).  In my original viewing of BBM I was left with a similar impression to Amanda's friend.  I guess I was still very caught up in the intellectualising of films as I watched them, looking for plot devices and such to create a logical progression from one scene or event to the next.

When Randall was introduced I wondered "what if Jack thinks he sees an alternative to Ennis in Randall (a la Mexico) but was in fact completely wrong about it (as he was with Jimbo)".  In my mind I started piecing together a possible sequence of events.  On the bench Jack is still, like a deer-in-the-headlights, as Randall talks about "going fishing".  Jack knows what that means to him, but does Randall mean the same thing?  After the argument scene, several months go by before November, and I imagined another Jimbo-like scene with Randall, but this time leading to the attack on Jack.

Remember I am talking more about plot devices rather than character motivation, both of you have changed how I interpret Randall and this sequence of events now.  Nevertheless, the seed of the original thought was planted, and I can understand someone seeing Randall as a possible threat to Jack.  Even after all the character analysis we have done here in recent months I still get that impression.
Nothing is as common as the wish to be remarkable - William Shakespeare

Offline serious crayons

  • Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 19,101
Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #32 on: May 16, 2006, 11:56:32 pm »
Well, that's interesting, Chris! I guess that idea never occurred to me. Even the first time I saw it, before I noticed all the eye contact in the ballroom, I assumed Randall was coming on to Jack and thus more of a threat to ENNIS than Jack (as in, a rival).

Even now, I can't say as I see it the way you describe. Randall seems nice enough, sort of hesitant and nervous himself, plus LaShawn seems to be hinting that he's gay (not only all her thinly veiled putdowns of his masculinity, but also her gabbiness, which strikes me as the equivalent of Lureen's hair bleach -- a cry of frustration). And I read Jack's deer-in-headlights (good phrase) as a sort of guilty interest, like he's tempted to go for it but very hesitant to be unfaithful to Ennis.

But from your description I can understand why it might be interpreted that way -- and why Jack might interpret Randall's attention wrongly. What was your reaction to his lie to Ennis about seeing the ranch foreman's wife?

Tell you what, I have come to see Jack's story about the affair as more sinister and foreshadowing than I originally noticed. I mean, the part about getting shot by either Lureen or the husband or both. (And then Ennis chuckling, "you'd probably deserve it" -- bet he regretted THAT later.) I know some people have hypothesized that Lureen has Jack killed, and I can't quite buy that, but it does seem like a hint that SOMEBODY kills him for it.



Offline Brown Eyes

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 10,375
Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #33 on: May 17, 2006, 12:11:13 am »
Heya Friends,

Chris thanks for your comments... they do help me understand my friend's reaction better.  Like most things with this movie... personal perception, hunches and interpretations seem to be so important.  Like Katherine, I never really saw Randall as a threat to Jack (but, yes a threat to Ennis as a rival... which, comes up in the Lightning Flat scene).  I actually have always read Randall as a sort of 'sweetie-pie' type.  Granted we don't see much of him to judge his character too much, but he seems very warm in his few scenes and (for what it's worth) seems to have 'kind eyes.'  I've always thought of him as probably being too much like Jack to really be Jack's type.  He doesn't come across as the silent, brooding type (like Ennis), which Jack probably looks for.  If Jack had notions that Randall would move to Lightning Flat with him... they must have gone so far as to have a real affair at least and probably didn't have much to fear from Randall himself.  I do think that LaShawn's conversation with Jack while dancing is a foreshadowing about Jack's death (talking about fixing trucks).  Her discussion could lead an audience member (upon reflection) to think either about the accident scenario or the idea that Jack was attacked going to or from Randall's place.

Having just watched the movie tonight again, it really struck me that everything that Randall says (about the cabin, lake, fishing and whiskey) are key elements in Jack's romance with Ennis.  It must have really struck Jack as an amazing coincidence at least.  And, I watched carefully for eye contact clues at the dinner, and I'll say that I'm sticking to my story/ interpretation (in the post above), but I really can see why there is confusion and debate over this.  There are a few key *shifts* in eye contact direction, but the camera is not precise enough in it's movements to follow these shifts with precision.  I'm sure this is deliberate.
the world was asleep to our latent fuss - bowie

Offline Aussie Chris

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • Brokeback Got Me Good
  • *****
  • Posts: 613
Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #34 on: May 17, 2006, 04:12:15 am »
That's cool Amanda & Katherine, and thanks for not laughing at the suggestion.  Anyway, I agree with both of you that Randall doesn't seem the type to hurt a fly, let alone be a direct threat to Jack.  Remember I was speaking in terms of plot-devices within the film rather than character impressions.  When I watch a film (at least prior to BBM) I try to consider all the influences and opinions that go in to getting the story on to the screen.  In BBM we have (1) a short-story, (2) two screen-writers, (3) director, (4) actors, (5) us as the viewer and perhaps to a lesser extent, other people when we discuss the film here.  That's at least 5 distinct influences on how to interpret what really happened (or what was intended), and with a film like BBM it’s all that is needed for us to talk about it for six months and more.

In the case of Randall, I saw a possible "suspicious" character, although the character is played doe-eyed and endearing, so we're left thinking jack's death couldn't possibly have anything to do with him.  As I said, all of this was in the first viewing.  I was left with the impression that Randall was somehow responsible for Jack's death.  Maybe Jack got Randall's advances all wrong and this lead to the attackers over-hearing.  Another option is that Jack got Randall all right, but Randall wasn't so discrete or told LaShawn, and again someone finds out and the tire-iron follows.  These are all a bit moot since we don't really have enough information on Randall to come to a conclusion.  Today, I think Randall may be innocent in terms of direct involvement in Jack's death, but he remains a suspect (ironically) in the loose-lips-sink-ships department.

Quote
What was your reaction to his lie to Ennis about seeing the ranch foreman's wife?

Ah yes, this was intriguing, and you're probably going to disagree with me (;)).  Ready?  At first I just thought it appeared in the film because that's just how the scene/dialogue is portrayed in the book - a simplistic and dismissive approach I know but (unlike BBM) it works with most films.

The short-story and notes in the screenplay give me a few more clues as to why Jack lies.  In the argument scene (in the screenplay) it says that Jack was thinking "here it comes" when Ennis starts up about Mexico.  There's a real sense of what they were doing both physically and emotionally was very different to how they talked to each other, and most importantly how they justified it to themselves.  I'm not trying to allude towards denial here, the emphasis is on the unspoken-ness of the relationship.

When they do talk about relationships, they are always "translated" into straight ones: Jack substitutes "ranch foreman's wife" for "ranch foreman".  Even Alma, knowing what she knows, asks why Ennis doesn't get remarried.  They just have no context for saying these things.  Jack simply can't speak the truth because he's trying to broach the subject of their relationship for the very first time.  Jack cannot refer to Randall, but he still needs to tell Ennis how he feels.  In this way, Jack is just as homophobic as Ennis (but for different reasons).

I am really interested in you breaking this all apart and telling me how I've got it all wrong about Randall.  I guess a part of me wants you to also say that the last half an hour never happened.  Scratch below the surface of stability and there's still a traumatised Brokie here desperate for someone to tell me: s'alright.  Btw, it doesn't help that I keep listening to the soundtrack over and over.
Nothing is as common as the wish to be remarkable - William Shakespeare

Offline serious crayons

  • Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 19,101
Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #35 on: May 17, 2006, 01:07:23 pm »
When they do talk about relationships, they are always "translated" into straight ones: Jack substitutes "ranch foreman's wife" for "ranch foreman".  Even Alma, knowing what she knows, asks why Ennis doesn't get remarried.  They just have no context for saying these things.  Jack simply can't speak the truth because he's trying to broach the subject of their relationship for the very first time.  Jack cannot refer to Randall, but he still needs to tell Ennis how he feels.  In this way, Jack is just as homophobic as Ennis (but for different reasons).

Well, Chris, this may come as a shock, but I agree!  ;) I can't think of any other reason for Jack to tell Ennis anything at all except that he wants to be semi-honest and semi-open with Ennis, wants to assuage some of his own guilt, maybe even wants to prepare Ennis for the possibility that he will leave Ennis for Randall. Yet he switches genders because he knows that Ennis would be really angry if he knew the whole truth -- whether out of homophobia or jealousy or both (back to THAT old argument!). I guess that explains Jack disingenuously asking Ennis why he hasn't gotten married -- he knows why, but pretends he doesn't, perhaps fishing for info while keeping the obvious unstated in keeping with Ennis' sensitivities.

And good point about Alma doing the same for different reasons. I suspect she's totally trying to bait Ennis. There was a huge debate a while back about why Alma gives that mean Jack Nasty speech, and people suggested she is insulted by his "once burned" remark. That's possible, but I think she may have wanted to bring it up already, which is why she asks about marriage in the first place. I think she pretty much knows why he doesn't remarry.

Back to Jack. It's comforting but also slightly ominous, in regard to the question of whether Jack would have left Ennis for Randall, to know that right on the heels of the ranch forman's wife confession (so, with his relationship with Randall fresh in his mind), he tells Ennis how much he misses him. It's both an "I want to be with you more than anything in the world" and a "But it's so hard on me that I may have to do something drastic and find someone else."

As for Randall, I don't feel like I have enough information to blame his indiscretion for Jack's death. It's certainly possible, but as far as we could tell at the dance Randall is pretty subtle and discrete. If we're supposed to think he's at fault, maybe they would have shown him talking too loudly or being too obvious. I don't have any idea how anyone would have found out about Jack at all, though, so I can't rule that out.

Quote
I guess a part of me wants you to also say that the last half an hour never happened.  Scratch below the surface of stability and there's still a traumatised Brokie here desperate for someone to tell me: s'alright.

I hear ya. Sometimes I'd like to lop off the last half of the movie. And I think we're all desperate for the s'alright we will never hear ... :'(

Offline starboardlight

  • BetterMost 1000+ Posts Club
  • ******
  • Posts: 1,127
    • nipith.com
Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #36 on: May 17, 2006, 03:14:59 pm »
I think the Randall situation just has to be left up to individual interpretation.  People will always read this scene in different ways. I'm personally still convinced that Jack is asking Randall to dance (in a non-serious way) but that he's assuming that everyone else at the table will presume that he's asking LaShawn.  He knows they will assume this, so he takes this opportunity to be playful and also a bit spiteful of Lureen.

interestingly enough, in another thread started by Ray, he ponders that Lureen knows the answer exactly when she asks "Why is it, husbands don't never wanna dance with their wives?" So his "asking" Randall might just be Jack playing chicken with her. "Don't go there, cause I will" as it were.
"To do is to be." Socrates. - "To be is to do." Plato. - "Do be do be do" Sinatra.

Offline silkncense

  • Brokeback Got Me Good
  • *****
  • Posts: 372
  • "It's alright; 's alright."
Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #37 on: May 17, 2006, 10:17:49 pm »
Ya gotta love Annie Proulx, Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana!

Quote
I think it's important that he locks eyes with Randall during the conversation at the table, then during the "want to dance?" moment

When we watch this film, we still see it differently.  I still see Jack speaking & looking directly to LaShawn regarding the 'wanna dance' sequence.  Based on his facial expression, I thought Randall made Jack uncomfortable when they first locked eyes & then again outside while on the bench.  As far as the film shows, Jack had not had an otside relationship so close to home...Ennis was never invited to 'come to Texas' as Lureen pointed out.

I felt Jack was hesitant to have a relationship with another man in Childress.  He knew Randall was coming on to him, but he certainly was not encouraging in my view at that time.  It seems clear that at some point after the dance, Jack & Randall did become involved but I did not see Jack giving him any signal the day of that dance.

And ultimately, I don't think Randall, the individual, was the ultimate demise of Jack, but the 'word' that got around Childress.
"……when I think of him, I just can't keep from crying…because he was a friend of mine…"

Offline Aussie Chris

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • Brokeback Got Me Good
  • *****
  • Posts: 613
Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #38 on: May 17, 2006, 10:54:05 pm »
Ya gotta love Annie Proulx, Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana!

Definitely - Collectively, the creators of perfection!

Quote
And ultimately, I don't think Randall, the individual, was the ultimate demise of Jack, but the 'word' that got around Childress.

This is probably fair enough silkncense.  We know that Jimbo got a vibe from Jack and that was enough for him to know what Jack was about.  We also know that just about everyone (except Ennis of course) thought little of Jack: "the pissant that tries to ride bulls" and the like.  So it wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination to assume that others had this impression, and this results in talk becoming 'word getting around'.  I think I picked on Randall for the lack of alternatives, but 'word getting around' works for me too and this lets Randall off the hook - for the time being anyway. ;)
Nothing is as common as the wish to be remarkable - William Shakespeare

Offline Brown Eyes

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 10,375
Re: A Ninth Viewing Observation
« Reply #39 on: May 17, 2006, 11:28:48 pm »
The short-story and notes in the screenplay give me a few more clues as to why Jack lies.  In the argument scene (in the screenplay) it says that Jack was thinking "here it comes" when Ennis starts up about Mexico.  There's a real sense of what they were doing both physically and emotionally was very different to how they talked to each other, and most importantly how they justified it to themselves.  I'm not trying to allude towards denial here, the emphasis is on the unspoken-ness of the relationship.

When they do talk about relationships, they are always "translated" into straight ones: Jack substitutes "ranch foreman's wife" for "ranch foreman".  Even Alma, knowing what she knows, asks why Ennis doesn't get remarried.  They just have no context for saying these things.  Jack simply can't speak the truth because he's trying to broach the subject of their relationship for the very first time.  Jack cannot refer to Randall, but he still needs to tell Ennis how he feels.  In this way, Jack is just as homophobic as Ennis (but for different reasons).

Hi Chris,
I quite like these observations.  I love the fact that you pointed out that there's this huge rift between what Jack and Ennis feel and do vs. what they say.  It reminds me of that thing Ang Lee says in one of the special features, about their relationship being "private and precious and they cannot articulate..."  I think that's right, they just don't have the words to express themselves.  I suppose this is a permutation of the old "love that dare not speak its name" idea.  In this case it's the lovers themselves who can't "speak" about it.  It reminds me of Ennis calling their attraction "this thing".  And he can only call Jack's affairs with other men "those things."  I'm sure this is a huge part of the drama in the argument scene (both in the book and film).  20 years of pent-up frustration finally comes out in the form of speech... it really probably could have become even more dramatic than it did.

Now that I think about it though, there are moments when they try to talk about their feelings.  Most notably in the motel... in the book Jack says something like "we just have to talk about this..." (I don't have the book in front of me, so I'm paraphrasing).  And, clearly in the film Jack is trying to prod Ennis to say more about how he feels.  And, after Ennis's comment in the camping trip that he's "sending up a prayer of thanks", Jack says "for what?"  He's probably hoping that Ennis will say something real about their situation, but he settles for the cute teasing.

All very interesting.
the world was asleep to our latent fuss - bowie