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Discussion in 'Misc. Films' started by Dark Donnie, Feb 8, 2008.
I can't understand one line from the trailer.
"Harvey Milk will be stabbed and..."
I will definitely be seeing this movie.
I saw it. It was very good. Penn, Franco, Brolin, and Hirsch were fantastic. Penn and Brolin especially were uncanny. I like the way Brolin portrayed White, there were actually a few instances I felt bad for him. Penn is fantastic as usual.
I saw it today, It's a good movie with an outstanding performance from Penn. One of the things I think Penn does so well here is he plays Harvey Milk with a believability b/c he doesn't cartoonize him, he's openly gay but plays it straight if you know what I mean.
The film itself is well structured b/c biopics have a tendency to be difficult simply by the nature of how hard it is to fit a life into a 2 hour movie. Here Van Sant keeps the progression of the story going at a pace that keeps your interest, but never jumps to the next big moment in a jarring fashion, so while you sense the time passing you never feel like anything important has been brushed over.
Another thing Van Sant does nicely is shoot all of Milk's speeches from a low angle so that you feel as if you are watching it from the POV of a member of the crowd.
Aside from Penn's stellar performance the supporting actors are all good, especially Emile Hirsh who brings a sense of energy to his role. Josh Brolin is solid as Dan White but doesn't have enough screen time.
The Dan White character is my main gripe, I mean he does not kill Milk b/c Milk is gay, in fact it is hinted at that he himself may be a repressed homosexual, but the lack of time spent digging deeper into this angle or indeed White's life in general leaves the climax with a one sided emotional core as he comes off as simply a frustrated trigger man.
Another thing is the fact that Milk's two relationships in the film start as sleazy soft porn esque interludes and the second of these never becomes anything more than an annoyance as Diego Luna resembles the Justin Timberlake character from the Love Guru trailers.
Now I can't say what the man's real love life was like but the film didn't present any gay couples in a regular light, gayness was at times presented like a hippie freedom act as opposed to just regular ppl who happen to be sexually attracted to the same gender.
Penn's performance and Van Sant's tight direction, coupled with an interesting story of a very important man make this an engrossing film that could have been even better.
I saw it today and I have to say, though it is a very good film, I was slightly let down. The film had an unbelievable amount of pressure put on it due to the hype around Penn's performance and for me personally, I was underwhelmed.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but I expected to be moved and to have emotions stirred within me. I just couldn't connect with it, and not for the want of trying.
Penn is great, however I've seen him in better films, and the oscar nod feels more to do with such a tough guy actor playing a camp character moreso than it being for a juggernaut performance.
Josh Brolin's performance also had me puzzled due to its' supporting actor oscar nod. Excluding one scene, I didn't feel anything from his performance. The oscar nod seems even more strange given that Brolin IMO is outshone by both Franco and Hirch.
I'll give it three out of five.
With how the Oscar's have turned out so far, I must say I'm gonna root for Milk. I think Van Sant's work here was exceptional. Biopics so often come across as if the writer and director retreat into the safety of the conventions of the genre. In my opinion, Van Sant came at this story without going for the familiar.
There's one scene for example where the entire shot is within the reflection of a metal whistle laying on the ground specked in blood. It belonged to a gay man who was killed on the street. Milk argues with the cop who is checking out the crime scene and tries to find out what happened. You see Milk and the cop argue and Milk finally goes to pick up the whistle and snap the scene is over. I haven't done it justice there but you get the idea. It's really inventive stuff. Van Sant put a lot of his creative energies into every frame of the movie. Actually reflections and windows and mirrors appear throughout the movie.
I'd have to disagree with Hunter Rider's point above about how the relationships were shallow or seen as just a form of liberation as opposed to people having real lives together. Totally disagree. Penn and Franco's character go through a whole lot together. They're normal as can be. Sure they meet in each other in a subway pick up scenario, but thats how same sex couples would get together. Couldn't be out in the open. They'd have dinner and birthday cake, relax, talk about their dreams, smoke pot, etc. I felt the atmosphere of their life together was very much realized. I think Franco's character gets set to the sidelines as the film progresses but that I think reflects their real life story pretty closely. The second lover was kind of silly but he was just a boyfriend of the guy, they didn't know each other that long.
Dan White was obviously tormented. That was made very clear and effectively. He was still a fleshed out person I thought. He wasn't evil incarnate. Just a guy trying to do right and pushed to the brink by his own personal stresses and demons. There's one scene that shows him waking up on the day he kills Milk and Mayor Moscone, and he's sleeping on his couch. His wife has obviously sent him to the doghouse, but the story as such is about Harvey and what made him the person he was. There's no extraneous explanation for why White was so messed up but just enough IMO.
Really really solid move, with superlative production values, inventive writing and film making, a cast who all do really great work, and an amazing inspiring real life story. Hope it wins.
I enjoyed this film, the performance by Penn is fantastic (though not the best of a leading man this year). Brolin should get the Oscar that will probably go to Heath Ledger - and that's a shame but one, as a batfan, that I am not going to shed any tears for.
My biggest complaint for the film is that they did a wonderful job of demonstrating the Harvey Milk/Dan White dynamic and then cheapened it by giving an inaccurate and immature description of White's "twinkie defense" at the end of the film.