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Milk-Movie Review 02/14/2011

Posted by Films to consider in American, Based on true story, Biographical, Movies.

Milk (American) 2008

Among many awards and nominations:
Winner, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Penn); Best Writing-Screenplay Written for the Screen (Black), Academy Awards
Nominated in 6 other categories, including Best Director; Music; Screenplay; Supporting Actor (Brolin); Motion Picture, Academy Awards

Directed by Gus Van Sant; written by Dustin Lance Black
Starring Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, James Franco, Alison Pill, and Diego Luna

Based on the true story of Harvey Milk, the charismatic man who was the first openly gay to hold public office in a big city when he was elected City Supervisor in San Francisco in the turbulent 1970s. The film starts with a recording made by Milk and meant to be listened to in the event of his assassination. It then backtracks several years to show how he moved to San Francisco, and how he got involved in issues in his local community, and then in broader issues having to do with gay rights and human rights.

Once again Sean Penn impresses me with his acting ability. He transforms himself physically, not just through his facial expression and personality, but even in the way he carries himself. I recently watched I Am Sam (2001) and although I found fault with other performances in that film, his portrayal of a mentally retarded man was exceptional.

Gus Van Sant also directed Paranoid Park (see my review of that) and Good Will Hunting.

I also watched the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk afterward (see below for info). This film, which won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1985, contains actual footage of Harvey Milk but doesn’t cover as much about his personal relationships. It also follows up on the trial, verdict, sentencing, and eventual suicide of Dan White, the former city supervisor who shot and killed Milk and San Francisco Mayor Moscone, and the violence that erupted after his sentencing.

129 min. Rated R. Some sexual content and violence.

For the documentary:
The Times of Harvey Milk (20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition)


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