Directed by Gus Van Sant.
Written by Dustin Lance Black.
Starring Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin and James Franco.
Release Year: 2008
Review Date: 12/20/08
Meg and I have been trying to see "Milk" for
a couple of weeks now...finally, our run of bad movies seen together
Even though I will never forgive director
Gus Van Sant for the shiterrible, intolerable drama
"Gerry", "Milk" gives
us more of the man that was so great with movies like "To Die For",
"Good Will Hunting" and
"Elephant." Telling the true story of San Francisco City
Supervisor Harvey Milk and the last eight years of his life--lover
of people (but, sexually, men), gay activist, mayoral hopeful--Van
Sant's film revolves mainly around Harvey (Sean Penn) and his team
of firebreathing political types; Harvey's last two boyfriends,
Scott Smith (James Franco) and Jack Lira (Diego Luna); San
Francisco's change in slowly becoming maybe the gay rights capital
of the country, starting in the Castro District...and, Dan White
(Josh Brolin), another of the city's 11 supervisors who at first
tries to ally himself with Milk on the city council before seeing
the need to go about business his own special way.
The movie begins with the announcement that
Milk and the city's mayor, George Moscone (Victor Garber, Sydney's
dad from "Alias"), have been assassinated in 1978, and then we start
from 1970 to fill in the blanks. Mixing a lot of file footage
from the time, from TV reports on major news programs to random
shots of San Francisco "back in the day", "Milk" has a docudrama
feel that works thanks to a ton of great performances that bring it
to life. I'll have a hard time believing anyone will beat Penn
this year for an Oscar...the part is rich, the performance is
stunning, and maybe the best part of it is Penn's intimacy with his
character's movements and emotional connection to the Scott & Jack
characters. There aren't any
Mountain" moments in "Milk", but I was really impressed with how
sensitive Penn is in this role. Hugs with his election teams.
Reactions to major tragedies. Caressing other men in bedroom
scenes. It's the whole package, and the win will be very
deserved for one of our best performers.
But, even after Penn, you get a boatload of
good stuff. Franco is great...Luna, even though his character
(as written) is annoying, still inhabits the role well. Emile
Hirsch is wearing so much hair as Milk's right-hand political man
that he is almost unrecognizable (he played the lead in Penn's
Wild", as well as
but he is also fantastic...Brolin has already won the National Board
of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor for "Milk", so that ought
to say something. The film has no major gaps in blahness (even
though I was asleep for about 30 seconds during this puppy), it has
the ending promised in the intro, and for anyone who has spent
significant time in San Francisco (i.e., Meg and I), the film just
means more because some of the sights are well-traveled places of
the mind. The film's only major misstep to me was the lack of
in-movie character development of the city mayor (played by
Garber)...I thought this was worth two or three scenes of his own to
more fully round out why he is so in support of Milk's gay
initiatives, after seemingly so many other mayors said "No, thanks."
Otherwise, "Milk" is great. Ahh,
December...it's making the other eleven months of the year somewhat
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard