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Milk (2008)

November. 05,2008
| Drama History
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The true story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man ever elected to public office. In San Francisco in the late 1970s, Harvey Milk becomes an activist for gay rights and inspires others to join him in his fight for equal rights that should be available to all Americans.


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If you don't like this, we can't be friends.


Great Film overall


Instead, you get a movie that's enjoyable enough, but leaves you feeling like it could have been much, much more.


It is a whirlwind of delight --- attractive actors, stunning couture, spectacular sets and outrageous parties. It's a feast for the eyes. But what really makes this dramedy work is the acting.


MilkUnlike any other biography, it floats on to its wisely picked specific topics and stays true to its nature throughout the course of the feature which is of around 2 hours and is filled with enough material to feed the audience. Gus Van Sant's attempt is plausible and visible but it fails to project the aspired on-paper script that is adapted powerfully and written brilliantly by Dustin Lance Black. Sean Penn; as the protagonist of the feature, is doing some of his career's best work here that is not easy to ignore and is supported well enough by the cast like Josh Brolin and James Franco who holds tightly onto their parts. Milk has a smart written script that is unfortunately not executed to the perfection (it sticks to you throughout the feature) but is overpowered by stellar performance and a heart right at the centre of it.


Milk, released in 2008, was directed by Gus Van Sant and written by Academy Award Winner Dustin Lance Black. Based on a true story, Harvey Milk, elected in 1977, was the first openly gay man to hold a prominent political position. He was served as a city councilman in San Francisco for 11 months until he was assassinated. The movie follows Harvey moving to Castro to shortly after his death. Milk is dedicated to showcasing the accomplishments and impact Harvey Milk made for his community and also a huge step in normalizing gay relationships and friendships in Hollywood.The movie begins with news clips showing the oppression that the LGBT community was facing during the 1970s. Immediately, we learn that Harvey Milk and the mayor have been assassinated. The movie is guided by a recording that Harvey Milk made of himself in case he was assassinated. Through this recording his timeline begins with his 40th birthday, where he meets Scott, a man much younger than him. Scott and Harvey decide to move to Castro, CA together, where they open up a camera shop. Castro has a large gay population that Scott and Harvey assimilate smoothly into. As a community, they are able to make impactful strides of acceptance and equality which fuels Harvey to run for a city council position. With lots of support from his friends and Scott, Harvey runs multiple times and is elected as a supervisor for city council. Before Harvey's election victory, Harvey and Scott split up, but Harvey pursues a relationship with an unstable alcoholic, Jack. Even though Milk only served 11 months, he was apply to pass the "Pooper-Scooper" legislature as well as play a big role in the "Briggs Initiative," that opposed Proposition 6. Harvey also makes many speeches encouraging people to fight for the rights of the gay community and also for everyone to "Come out!" As the movie continues, Dan White, another city council supervisor, becomes a more prominent figure. Dan, never seeming too happy or excited about anything, has reservations about the work that Harvey is doing and seems to envy the accomplishments he is making.Dan was struggling with the decisions the board was making and resigned in hopes of getting a different job. Dan's job opportunity falls through, and his job on the board is no longer available for him. Shortly after he resigns, he comes into work one day with a gun and kills both Mayor Moscone and Harvey. As devastating as the ending of this film is, it ends with the inspiring words of Harvey's recording surrounded by the 50,000 people that marched the streets of Castro during his vigil.Until the time the movie was made, Hollywood had not seen a lot of movies with physical homosexual relationships. I enjoyed the closeness of Harvey and Scott's relationship. From the very beginning, their relationship normalized the idea of a homosexual relationship on screen. They hugged and kissed in both private and public. Their relationship was very emotional and based off of love, which was juxtaposed by the very sexual relationship of Harvey and Jack. As much as Harvey cared for Jack, their relationship was characterized by sexual desire and need. Another criticism of sexuality comes from the idea of a monogamous Harvey Milk. He had more of a sex life than the two relationships portrayed in the film.The fight against Proposition 6 was a huge focus during the late 1970s. The movie focuses heavily on the religious end echoed by Senator Briggs and Anita Bryant. As much as the population was swayed by the religious argument, religion was portrayed as the major influence of Proposition 6. The influence of political figures and their opinions were mentioned, but the movie focused more on how Harvey was a major politician against Proposition 6. He played a huge role, yet President Carter, Governor Reagan, and other political figures were also very openly against Proposition 6.As seen with Proposition 6, Milk gets a lot of political attention and recognition for different accomplishments throughout the movie. He played a huge role in these achievements, but the movie glorifies his personal influence and heightens credit the credit he should receive. He was very much a prominent activist, but played more of a team role in life, rather than an individual champion. That being said, he still remained the role of a relatable man. This was increasingly important when displaying a homosexual man. We see his sexuality throughout the movie, but also see him as an accomplished, focused politician. Sean Penn as Harvey Milk retains a humble, down to earth personality from moving to Castro until his death, leading to an Academy Award winning performance as Best Actor.As there are some drawbacks, this movie was taken positively by both the LGBT community and general population. As some may complain about specific aspects of relationships, like myself, overall the LGBT characters and relationships were portrayed in a groundbreaking way that captivated both homosexual and heterosexual audiences. This kind of representation further pushes our society in understanding and acceptance of the LGBT community through empathy of specific stories like Harvey Milk.


This is a biopic about Harvey Milk, a person I only remember through a news item---when he was killed along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone (Victor Garber). Their assassin, Dan White (Josh Brolin), will probably be best remembered for the 1979 trial in which his attorney tried to use something that would later be known as the "Twinkie defense." As the movie begins, Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), is on the verge of his 40th birthday and feels that he has done nothing with his life. He meets his partner and soon-to-be campaign manager, Scott Smith (James Franco), in a NYC subway station. They move to San Francisco and open a camera shop in the predominately gay district called the Castro. Harvey becomes a gay-rights activist and attempts to run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. After three attempts, and much work to politically organize his district, he is elected as the first openly gay candidate ever to be elected in America (in 1977). During his political career, he encourages a large number of people to come out of the closet and declare their gayness openly. After seeing this movie, I put the 1984 documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk, at the top of my Netflix queue since I wanted to see more about Milk and see how well Penn portrays him in this movie. The only thing that I don't look forward to is Harvey Fierstein's narration: I don't like his grading voice. In any case, Sean Penn gives a natural, and convincing performance.


the fight of a man. for principle. for his credo. for a better world. a revolution. and a victory who reminds so many similar other success. short, an useful testimony about the force of hope and determination and courage. the great fact - Milk has the splendid gift to be an universal story. not only about the struggle of a sexual community for its rights. not about a simple man who becomes symbol of the desire to change social perception and to say the truth against each obstacle. and, maybe, not one of the most remarkable roles of Sean Penn. but something real profound.a message. a remind. a testimony. essential more than important. for understand the details who define the life. Milk is the portrait of a hero. and good support for not ignore the other. a powerful pledge for tolerance. and a great film.