"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Sunday, December 14, 2008

MILK the Movie

This movie is showing in ONE theater, count it, ONE in the Charlotte area. Probably all of NC. Grrrr. But, I was able to go see it. I had to drive across town, but oh well. I hope it opens on more screens here, more people need to see it. This was an amazing movie, a truly honest picture of one American's life. My review is below. Go.see.it.

Synopsis from the MILK movie website:

Gay Rights Activist. Friend. Lover. Unifier. Politician. Fighter. Icon. Inspiration. Hero. His life changed history, and his courage changed lives. In 1977, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man to be voted into major public office in America. His victory was not just a victory for gay rights; he forged coalitions across the political spectrum. From senior citizens to union workers, Harvey Milk changed the very nature of what it means to be a fighter for human rights and became, before his untimely death in 1978, a hero for all Americans. Academy Award winner Sean Penn stars as Harvey Milk under the direction of Academy Award nominee Gus Van Sant in the new movie filmed on location in San Francisco from an original screenplay by Dustin Lance Black and produced by Academy Award winners Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen. The film charts the last eight years of Harvey Milk’s life. While living in New York City, he turns 40. Looking for more purpose, Milk and his lover Scott Smith (James Franco) relocate to San Francisco, where they found a small business, Castro Camera, in the heart of a working-class neighborhood that was soon to become a haven for gay people from around the country. With his beloved Castro neighborhood and beautiful city empowering him, Milk surprises Scott and himself by becoming an outspoken agent for change. He seeks equal rights and opportunities for all, and his great love for the city and its people brings him backing from young and old, straight and gay, alike – at a time when prejudice and violence against gays was openly accepted as the norm. With vitalizing support from Scott and new friends and volunteers, Milk plunges headfirst into the choppy waters of politics. He also mentors young street activists like Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch). Bolstering his public profile with humor, Milk’s actions speak even louder than his gift-of-gab words. Soon, he is known all across the city and even beyond, but his persistent determination to be a part of city government drives him and Scott apart. While making his fourth run for public office, Milk takes a new lover, Jack Lira (Diego Luna). The latest campaign is a success, as Milk is elected supervisor for the newly zoned District 5. Milk serves San Francisco well while lobbying for a citywide ordinance protecting people from being fired because of their orientation – and rallying support against a proposed statewide referendum to fire gay schoolteachers and their supporters; he realizes that this fight against Proposition 6 represents a pivotal precipice for the gay rights movement. At the same time, the political agendas of Milk and those of another newly elected supervisor, Dan White (Josh Brolin), increasingly diverge and their personal destinies tragically converge. Milk’s platform was and is one of hope – a hero’s legacy that resonates in the here and now.

My review:

This may be the most important movie you see this year, or next. I can't begin to say enough about the performance of Sean Penn, the fearlessness with which he leaps into this role, giving us a true picture of Harvey Milk. Sitting in the theater tonight, I was saddened to think that we haven't come as far as I would like to think where gay rights are concerned as the recent passing of Prop 8 and other incidents across the nation tell us. There are so many incidents, political and otherwise in the movie that are incredibly timely. The movie doesn't just portray him as a hero, but as a flawed, normal man, trying to make a difference, who does succeed, but suffers tragically for it. His flaws, to me, only made him more endearing, more human. One of the most powerful moments for me in the movie was when Milk was trying to rally more voters, and voiced the idea that all gay Americans had to come out, so that everyone would realize they know "one of us". Because once you know someone, care about them, and then find out they are gay, it would be harder to hate them, to vote against them, to not let them have their rights. I think that is very powerful and works for any minority or population struggling to be heard or given rights, because it is so true.
I think I was born liberal, much to my parents disappointment, but knowing gay men and women early in my life shaped even more my beliefs that we are all created equal, we are all human beings. We all have hearts and minds and hopes and dreams. And none of us of any other belief system has the right to take that away from anyone.
Harvey Milk was so brave in his fight to win a public office to change, to make a difference. I was awed at this persistence and ability to believe when there were so many adversaries winning around him. People wept in the theater watching this movie tonight, it was hard not to. It was an amazing man's life story, cut much too short.


fluxlife December 15, 2008 at 3:47 AM  

awesome review! believe it or not, the showings for MILK are even a little restricted here in San Francisco where it premiered at the famous CASTRO THEATRE.

strange i know. i think gay rights is more of an uphill battle than many of us thought. well, we'll keep fighting.

thanks again for your wonderful review!

-steve @ fluxlife

Manu December 15, 2008 at 10:35 AM  

I have to admit that getting into the theater, I was a little afraid that the movie wouldn't be as good as I wanted it to be. But it was. Absolutely loved it. A must-see as you pointed out.

ps: I don't think I ever dropped a note here, so let me aslo say thank you for following my photography.

Cassandra December 15, 2008 at 10:16 PM  

I am so glad the movie didn't disappoint you since you have been looking forward to it for weeks!

If I ever decide to watch movies that have intellectual value (instead of fart jokes) I might start with this one...just for you ;-)

Paula... December 26, 2008 at 7:12 AM  

Sounds like an amazing movie - I wonder if we'll get it over here? Great review and so true in his thinking that if all gay people came out of the closet, it would be hard to hard them.

We're all human and equal in my book.


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