3:10 to Yuma or Iraq or Brokeback?

September 12th, 2007 8:43 AM

The problem with writing politicized movie reviews is that often most of what is seen depends on the viewpoint of the reviewer. Such was the case of the dueling movie reviews of "3:10 to Yuma" in the Huffington Post. Bill Robinson saw this movie as an allegory about the Iraq war:

As the reviews will tell you, it's an exceptional film, with gorgeous photography, stunning action and hypnotic, sublime performances. But what I am surprised I have not read, are the all-too-real parallels to Iraq.

...As the Army offers incentive bonuses to ship increasingly reluctant recruits off to the "Surge" in Iraq, we must stop and consider, for whom are we really asking these young men and women to die? Are you willing to ask that of a 22 year old from Bakersfield with a baby on the way? Someone who signed up as a reservist because he needed the money? Or the medical student who signed up for a scholarship after 9/11, never expecting to be dropped into the middle of a civil war in a country that didn't attack us? Or one of the many others who are on their second or third or fourth tour of duty?

Yeah, this weekend is a good time to see Yuma, because as you remark upon the quaint prices for which a man could be bought in the olden days -- Bale is risking his life for about $1000 -- keep in mind today's posting on the Army's website:

"The Army is offering Assignment Incentive Pay (AIP) for Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Soldiers, ranging between $50 and $750 per month."

Perhaps none of the other reviews of "3:10 to Yuma" saw the parallels to Iraq because they don't exist except in the fervid political imagination of Bill Robinson. However, not to be outdone by Robinson, we have the other dueling Huffington Post review by Nick Antosca whose sexual politics causes him to see this movie as being chock full of gayness:

Weirdest of all is the uncomfortable mix of homoeroticism and homophobia under the surface in 3:10 to Yuma. Now, ever buddy movie has elements of homoeroticism if you want to see them, but here there's some serious sexual tension building between Crowe and Bale's characters (it's the Ben Foster character that's the clincher...I'll get to that in a second). By the third act they share "the bridal suite" at the hotel. Crowe repeatedly says things like "I like this side of you, Dan" while suggestively tilting his head. Watch the scene where Bale cuts Crowe's meat for him: "Oh, cut off the gristle...I don't like the gristle...or the fat..."

...Ben Foster -- right. Foster plays Crowe's psycho-killer right hand man who, with the rest of their stagecoach-robbing gang, has been trying to overtake and ambush the escort for the entire film. It's an atrocious performance, mostly because Foster was apparently told to play it as a superfabulous gay insane murderer. He rides and walks with exaggerated feyness, wearing a tight white leather jacket and what look like rust-red velvet pants that have, like, gold buttons all up the sides. His wrists are bent, his posture is effeminate, and his voice is high and nasal. And when he introduces himself ("You know who I am? I'm Charlie Prince") to Peter Fonda, Fonda replies, "Well, I once knew a whore named Charlie Princess -- is that you, Missy?"

The Huffington Post movie reviewers need to get their politicized reviews straight (pun intended). Is "3:10 to Yuma" really about Iraq or is it another Brokeback flick? Maybe, just maybe, it is just a regular action western with no Iraq war or sexual politics message intended.