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A 2008 movie directed by Gus Van Sant.

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A biopic of a slain leader that actually leaves you feeling optimistic.

  • Mar 9, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+4
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.

Instead, what director Gus Van Sant gives us is a portrait of Harvey Milk as a human being. As most everyone knows, Milk was the first openly gay elected politician in American history - and he was subsequently murdered by a fellow San Francisco city supervisor. It's a sad story, and Harvey Milk had his share of sorrow: broken relationships, disturbed lovers, lost elections. But despite that, we leave the theater with a sense of joy. I personally left the theater feeling inspired to be more active in the gay community. In the end, I think that's what Harvey would have wanted. The most reproduced photo of him shows him with a broad, toothy smile: he believed in social change, but he also believed in having fun. What better tribute than a well-acted, well-shot movie that puts a smile on your own face.

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March 17, 2009
I loved this film. I nearly cried. When I got home I researched the real Harvey Milk. It left me wanting to know everything about him that was left out of the movie. I want to buy this on DVD.
 
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More Milk (2008 movie) reviews
review by . March 07, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
One extraordinary performance in one fine movie, which has the usual self-congratulatory blemishes
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 …
review by . March 01, 2009
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 …
review by . May 05, 2010
Every decade, Hollywood has an actor that takes the tough roles and turns them into great movies. For the past 10 years, this would probably be Sean Penn. With classics such as 21 Grams, Mystic River, and now Milk, Sean Penn has progressed far from his bad boy days and is now one of the best American actors. Milk is Penn's portrayal of the political career of Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay men elected to public office in the USA. Starting in NYC and ending in the Bay Area around San Francisco, …
review by . November 18, 2009
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 …
review by . November 18, 2009
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 …
Quick Tip by . August 29, 2009
Amazing movie. Sean Penn was perfect. What a great biopic tribute to a great man.
review by . April 14, 2009
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 …
review by . April 11, 2009
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 …
review by . March 26, 2009
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, …
review by . May 17, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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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.
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Director: Gus Van Sant
Genre: Drama
Release Date: November 26, 2008
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: March 10, 2009
Runtime: 2hrs. 8min.
Studio: Focus Features
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