Thursday, January 15, 2009
Milk proves to be priceless...
Director: Gus Van Sant
Starring: Sean Penn, James Franco, Josh Brolin
Tagline: Without hope, life's not worth living
Taken from the true events documenting the Gay Rights and political movement of the 1970s, MILK is the story of Harvey Milk, San Francisco's first openly Gay city Supervisor.
Being someone who had no previous knowledge of the history of this story, and had done no research before seeing the movie, it was surprisingly easy to understand.
The movie begins with a somber Penn, recording his voice in a memoir of sorts, to be listened to only upon his assassination. Something he obviously thought was going to happen at some point of his life. The movie then takes you back to how it all began. How he met the love of his life, "Scottie" played amazingly by James Franco, during the "free love" that was part of the 70s, no matter what persuasion you were.
Penn's portrayal of this joyful, silly, funny and flamboyant man is nothing short of brilliant. He has an amazing way of being incredible sharp and intelligent and ridiculously silly and boyish in the same 10 minutes. The love scenes between Franco and Penn were done as to portray the unconditional love and fondness the two had for each other. It does this so well that I found myself thinking that even the slightly homophobic or people who maybe haven't seen a love scene between two people of the same sex before - this would not be difficult for them to watch. If anything the beauty of the scenes help you realize how blind love is to gender, race, etc.
Franco does an amazing job of playing the "rock" for Milk. His character, Scottie - starts as a free loving stoner and then as the movie progresses and Milk gets farther and farther into his battle with the local political agendas - Scottie grows as well. At one point the stress of the constant election losses gets to him and they separate. However he continues to be a face in the crowd and there to wipe the tears offer a hug of congratulations when Milk finally wins the election for Supervisor of his region.
The movie battles with the passing of Proposition 6 - which in the 70s was a proposition to ban all gay men and women from teaching in any California public school. Former senator John Briggs headed the initiative to pass this bill. Harvey and his supporters (both in and out of city hall) worked tirelessly to assure this measure was never passed. Some of the amazing cameos during these scenes were Emile Hirsche, Allison Pill, Gabriel Luna - all playing amazing activists and lovers who helped Harvey along the way.
Josh Brolin gave a disturbingly good portrayal of the fundamental Christian supervisor Dan White, who constantly struggled with his feelings as the movie progressed. You could tell he was unable to resist the kindness and charm of Harvey, however vehemently disagreed with his way of life, to the point that he could not control his anger -- and in the end (as in history) shot and killed both Milk and the then Mayor, Mayor George Moscone (Played by Victor Garber). The assassination scene was so well done. Harvey had a love for the opera and had gone to see Tosca a few nights before his death. He then called his love, Scottie, just before dawn on the day of his death, telling him about the opera and that he loved how it freed him and made him feel. When Dan White shoots him, he twirls and falls to his knees, and gazes out the window, seeing the Opera house across the street and the vision of the singers on the banners outside...that being the last thing he saw before he died. (I don't give it the credit it deserves how I explained it, you just have to see it.)
The movie ended with a touching video of the 300,000 people that walked the streets of San Fran, the night of Milk's assassination - with candles, and in silence. And as it showed the footage, you hear the voice of Harvey's recorded Will -- talking about not making his death a tragedy, if indeed society can overcome and hate and bigotry. That his life was worth the sacrifice to if it meant his story would reach the masses and the people would help work for what he stood for.
This movie gave me one major epiphany that I wish people who persistently think they need to hate on others ways of life could understand...
Even if you don't accept the homosexual lifestyle as your own, or you don't agree with it because of your religion etc. Its really not about that. Its about our rights as American's and as HUMANS. Its about everyone having the same laws and rights, no matter what race, gender, sexual preference, economic status etc.
This movie was not just about Gay Rights - it was about the rights of every minority in the United States of America.
I found it liberating, touching, inspirational and poignant. It is my hopes that every adult American has the maturity to see this movie and take from it as much as they can.
(The fact that Penn or Franco didn't get a Golden Globe for these rolls is sad but I am assuming because of the subject matter, it was too controversial to some....)
Rating ***** excellent, a must see