Language : English
Director : Gus Van Sant
Watch ‘Milk’ just for Sean Penn who plays Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay elected official so very convincingly. Harvey Milk is a gay rights crusader and in his words “We are not fighting for our rights, we are fighting for our lives” is a statement which in itself says how much has been denied. Milk was a crusader for not just gay rights but also became a symbol of freedom and tolerance. It is their fight against accusations of being Pedophiles and being unfit to be part of society. This is a very well made biopic and there has been an attempt to do a really good character study of Harvey Milk. All credit to the director and Sean Penn for it. The movie is told in flashback from Harvey Milk’s diary J. The movie doesn’t attempt to glorify Milk and doesn’t hide the fact that he had hardly any great personal life when his lover of many years commits suicide. Milk says, almost prophetically, he doesn’t think he will last until 50. Harvey Milk and Mayor, George Mascone were assassinated by San Francisco Supervisor, Dan White. And the climax with the candle-light vigil from castro Street to City Hall is some tribute. The film has some brilliant acting by Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch (‘Into the wild’), Josh Brolin, Diego Luna, James Franco, Allison Pill and the rest of the cast.
Couldn’t help quoting from an open debate
Dan White : Society can’t exist without the family.
Harvey Milk : We are not against that.
Dan White : Can two men reproduce?
Harvey Milk : No. But god knows we keep trying.
Explicit in parts but necessary to drive home the point. A must watch this one. And this is not a gay film or even an LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) film but much wider in its scope.
This movie might never make it to India but it would be very timely if it did. It’s a shame that homosexuality is still a topic of discussion, rather than an accepted fact, not just in India but the world over.
Rob Epstein’s ‘The times of Harvey Milk’ has been credited alongside the film. I am told it is still the best film made on Harvey Milk. Hope to access that one too.
Other films by Gus van Sant that is on my must watch list include ‘Elephant’ and ‘Paris Je Taime’ (short version on theme ‘Paris’ directed by various directors). I am given to believe ‘Gerry’ is one of his best. Anyone has a copy?
My pick for the best actor Oscar is Sean Penn for ‘Milk’ and of course they are obliged to give one to Heath Ledger for ‘The Dark Knight’, best supporting actor (There should be just one best actor category. “What or who is a supporting actor?” a wrong concept methinx). ‘Changeling’, set during the days of Calvin Coolidge, is watch-able for Clint Eastwood’s handling, and in-spite of Angelina Jolie’s bad acting. A glum face throughout the movie just doesn’t substitute for good acting. I haven’t seen ‘Benjamin Button’ and can’t comment on it. ‘Blindness’ is disappointing if you have already read the book and a good watch otherwise. Some things from the book just stayed on for me “Blind people don’t visit an Ophthalmologist”. ‘Burn after reading’ is just about okay after the Coen Brothers earlier films. Just watched their ‘Man who wasn’t there’ and loved it. Also hope to watch ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’ and ‘The Reader’ this week. And take my word on this.
If it was Miss World and then the Booker’s visiting us with amazingly suspicious regularity can the Oscars be far behind? It’s all about numbers, about economics. It’s time we picked up a few. And we seem to have learnt how to go around lobbying as well.
Useless trivia : Politics and gay activism was not Harvey Bernard Milk’s interest until the age of 40. He believed there was no need to be open about his homosexuality before he actively took up to the cause. Milk famously said “If a bullet should enter my brain, let the bullet destroy every closet door”.