I have to say honestly that when I learned Sean Penn would play Harvey Milk in this film, I had great trepidation. Don't get me wrong; I'm a huge fan of Sean Penn. Anyone who can create the character he plays in Dead Man Walking and also be the Sam of I Am Sam is just brilliant. But a gay politician??? Sean Penn??
And yet... Penn is brilliant once again. One of the great aspects of this tightly woven drama is the interspersing of real, not re-created, news footage with the dramatized segments. I remember well the times and events of that era, having grown up as a news junky, so watching the film was, in some ways, re-living a part of the past that was deeply influential in my life. The integration of these real news spots is seamless.
Josh Brolin recreates the over-worked, stressed out, clearly unstable Dan White in a brilliant, believable characterization.
This film was one of the best movies I saw this year.
Milk is Sean Penn's best-sustained performance since Fast Times at Ridgemont High. I'm not joking and I mean it as high praise. Penn, at least in those movies of his I've seen, starts strongly and then dives head first into that famous Penn intensity that some consider acting with a capital "A." In Milk, Penn early establishes Milk as smart, empathetic, self-aware, even gentle, playful and lovable. Penn doesn't lose those qualities, and adds … more
By all accounts, Harvey Milk was a breath of fresh air, the light in the room, the life of the party. By "all accounts", I mean that's what Dennis Peron said when I asked him. I had the interesting experience of staying at the home of one of Harvey's friends and fellow activists in the Castro during the filming of the movie. Peron makes only a very brief appearence in the movie, but he was very excited about it and (when I could get him to stop talking about the medical marijuana … more
I first heard the name Harvey Milk about a few years ago when a new high school for gay teens was being opened in Manhattan and stirred a lot of controversy. That school was named after Harvey Milk. The news said that he was an openly gay politician from San Franscisco. I was a little remiss at the time because when I hear somebody mentioned who I know nothing about, I usually research them at a minimum on Wikipedia. I failed and the name Harvey Milk was filed deep in my brain … more
If you've ever seen a biopic of Martin Luther King Jr. or John F. Kennedy (or his brother), you're probably familiar with the standard arc: the hero as a child, then a struggling young adult, the sensitive woman who stood by his side, etc. Milk immediately distinguishes itself by starting at a point when the main character, Harvey Milk, is already a middle-aged middle management flunky. Where did he come from? What's his family like? Did he pass A.P. Calculus in high school? We don't know. … more
Contrary to what you might have been led to believe, Harvey Milk was not one of the most influential politicians who ever lived. He assumed public office in his late forties. He held that position less then a year before he was killed by a fellow politician. Truthfully, if you were to look at the biggest thing he accomplished, it would be that he got people to start picking up their pets droppings in public. Yes, the biggest law he helped get pasted involved poop. So if this was his greatest claim … more
Sean Penn does it again and easily delivers one of his best performances bringing to life a character and a man we no longer have, and may never see again. This is a cast filled with genuine legends like Penn & Brolin, and up and coming megastars such as Emile Hirsch and James Franco. Each and every cast member seems to give it their all in keeping loyal to their played roles character in order to play an honest homage to this legendary figure. Gus Van Sant, is a relatively unknown Director … more
This is an important movie. I feel like everyone should see this now. Unfortunately I didn't know much about Harvey Milk before seeing this movie but wow, what an important and beautiful person he was! And what a tragic way for his life to end. I will admit it, the ending made me cry. For some reason it took me a bit to get into the movie but once I was into it I was INTO it. Movies are always wonderful to watch but when they are based on real people they become something … more
I just saw Milk at the alumni get-together this afternoon. Afterwards, one of Harvey's colleagues and fellow SF supervisor during his tenure, Carol Ruth Silver, did a little talk about the film's depictions. She said the film was right-on in its depictions of Harvey and of that 1970s era in San Francisco. One of the surprising things Silver revealed was that Dan White had also targeted her on the morning of the Moscone-Milk assassinations at City Hall. After the first two assassinations, … more
Hi! It's nice to meet you here! If you enjoy my writing, you may be interested in reading my memoir, Tainted Legacy. Some years ago I discovered a family secret: My great-grandmother, Bertha Gifford, … more
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Director Gus Van Sant brings to the screen the epic journey of one man and the start of a movement. Written by Dustin Lance Black the story of Harvey Milk, California's first openly gay elected official, a San Francisco supervisor who was assassinated, on November 27, 1978, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone by San Francisco Supervisor Dan White.