Sunday, December 14, 2008


Movie name: Milk
Year of release: 2008
Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, Diego Luna, Alison Pill, Joseph Cross, James Franco, Denis O'Hare, Victor Garber, Lucas Gabreel, Stephen Spinella
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 9

Following his more experimental work that dominated his previous films, namely the cycle started by "Gerry" and followed with the terrific "Elephant" and the hit or miss "Last Days" and "Paranoid Park", Gus Van Sant returns to form with "Milk", one of the best films of the year. The film follows the life of the first openly gay elected politician, Harvey Milk. We follow him from his life in New York on the brink of turning 40, to his move to San Francisco where he settles in the Castro district (with his partner, Scott Smith). We see through his eyes the changes that occur in the city and his political activism grows as he realizes the discrimination that gay people suffer. Through his attempts to get elected, his group of friends grows as does their ambitions in changing the ruling that is trying to get passed, Proposition 6. Milk's sad demise in the hands of one of his co-workers Dan White, cuts short his attempts to improve the life of the gay community. What is so admirable about this film, is the way Van Sant's vision blends so perfectly with the period pieces. The reconstitution of San Francisco of 30 years ago is perfect, as is the beautiful photography of Harris Savides (one of the great cinematographers working these days). The actors are all fantastic, but three strike a chord, starting with Josh Brolin's amazing portrayal of Dan White. He is remarkable as someone losing grips with a reality that far surpasses his understanding. Emile Hirsch is also great as a young gay man trying to find meaning in his life. But this film belongs to Sean Penn - his portrayal of Harvey Milk is touching, powerful and simply amazing (he truly deserves another Oscar). A great film that needs to be seen now, for what it represents and for the artistry that went into it!