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December 06, 2008 02:02 AM UTC


  • by: One Queer Dude

   I saw “Milk” last week and thought it was excellent.  Sean Penn did a fabulous (if I dare use that word!) job playing Harvey Milk.  And Josh Brolin did an excellent job portraying the complex, twisted and homophobic Dan White.

  As for the content of the movie, obviously our nation has come a long way in the way in which gays and lesbians are treated (the police beating and unsolved hate crimes are, for the most part, a thing of the past), but as Prop 8 clearly demonstrated, we’ve got a long way yet to go.

  The weird thing about “Milk” was the irony of the movie coming out in the aftermath of Prop 8 when one of the themes of the movie was the successful campaign against Prop 6 (aka the Briggs Initiative).

  The movie showed the lengths to which Milk and his political operation went towards organizing the G & L community (B & T had not yet become part of the movement) into running a successful statewide campaign to stop Briggs.

  It makes me wonder whether the presence of another leader of the caliber of Harvey Milk could have tipped the scales in the other direction on Prop 8 if we had had such a leader.

  At any rate, anyone else wish to comment on thier thoughts about the movie?


10 thoughts on “Milk

  1. I found it moving. Not only the drama that the actors presented–which was stirring–but the actual, historical clips that accompanied it: men at gay bars in the early 1960s being arrested, made to do the “perp walk” in front of cameras, their careers potentially ruined; the description of the raid at the gay bar in San Francisco where police came in with clubs swinging.

    As One Queer Dude points out, the actors did a tremendous job: Sean Penn and Josh Brolin (who played Dan White in a, not sympathetic necessarily, but believably pitiful and pathetic way), to name just two.

    Harvey Milk was out to upset the apple cart: didn’t matter if you were a homophobe or part of the Democratic or gay establishment in San Francisco. He framed gay rights as a human rights issue, most effectively, and kept his focus on that.

    The film was at times a bit hyperbolic. But I could forgive that. On a gaily draped stage (pardon the pun), Gus Van Sant made an operatic tragedy that played as much more than a tragedy–it was a triumph in its tragedy.

    At the end we see a massive candlelight march honoring Harvey Milk, following his assassination. Then the viewer is given a wrap-up epilogue on what happened to the characters. Here, I think Van Sant ought to have included a few historic film clips of the “White Night Riots” — when supporters of Milk attacked City Hall after Dan White was convicted on a lesser manslaughter charge following his famous “Twinkie defense.” That’s my main quibble with the film. (White Night Riots:)

    The New York Times:

    …”Milk” is accessible and instructive, an astute chronicle of big-city politics and the portrait of a warrior whose passion was equaled by his generosity and good humor. Mr. Penn, an actor of unmatched emotional intensity and physical discipline, outdoes himself here, playing a character different from any he has portrayed before.

    This is less a matter of sexuality – there is no longer much novelty in a straight actor’s “playing gay” – than of temperament. Unlike, say, Jimmy Markum, Mr. Penn’s brooding ex-convict in Clint Eastwood’s “Mystic River,” Harvey Milk is an extrovert and an ironist, a man whose expansive, sometimes sloppy self-presentation camouflages an incisive mind and a ferociously stubborn will. All of this Mr. Penn captures effortlessly through voice and gesture, but what is most arresting is the sense he conveys of Milk’s fundamental kindness, a personal virtue that also functions as a political principle

    A recommended movie.

  2. Coors beer.

    It’s depicted in the film:

    Harvey Milk made a pact in San Francisco with the Teamsters, who opposed the non-union Coors Brewing Company. Gay bars would boycott Coors beer in exchange for a concession: some openly gay members would be accepted by the Teamsters. It led to a long-standing boycott by gay bars against the brand — which this Westword article about a contemporary gay advocate for Coors touches on:

    And it led to more acceptance for gays in San Francisco.

    Excerpt about the Coors boycott from the book The Mayor of Castro Street:…

      1. I do my movie watching at home, way too many bad experiences in the theater over the last few years.

        I see the big fancy blockbusters in the theaters occasionally (The Dark Knight was the last movie I saw in the theater) but everything else I rent.

        Plus, my wife and I have been watching the X-Files from the beginning, and we still have around 150 episodes to go.

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