movies: milk

his life changed history, his courage changed livesI know I say this quite a bit, but I wasn't really sure whether I was going to enjoy Milk...

I'm not a fan of Sean Penn... for no particular reason, it's that that visceral reaction when you haven't really seen very much of a person's work, but you have no desire to. Like Adam Sandler...

But since it was Movie Day, there really weren't many movies we wanted to see, I'm not working and Ma's on leave, we decided to head into the city, grab some lunch and go and see Milk.

In some ways the movie is a little bit like Titanic (without that whole "Heart of the Ocean" nonsense obviously)... but if you know anything about the Harvey Milk story, you know how it all ends (actually even if you don't know a single thing, the movie tells you within the first couple of minutes), so you're kind of waiting for the iceberg...

But, having said that, it's actually a really good movie. While I can't say how "true" Penn's performance is compared to the real Harvey Milk, it feels very real and very natural. To be honest, all the actors are excellent, and probably the only person who stuck out to me a little was High School Musical alum, Lucas Grabeel... not that he was bad... just that everybody else was either people I didn't recognise or else seemed to really exist as part of that world. It's more about my perceptions than his performance though.

James Franco also kind of stood out, partially because even under the 70's hair and (actually quite cute) moustache he's still gorgeous... but also he's really a fantastic, natural actor.

A few of the events in the movie I knew about, most of them I didn't... and the movie seems to concentrate more on the facts of what actually happened than try to "invent" the motivations, the inner thinking of the characters. Occasionally it comes across, but there's a lot of stuff left unsaid and unexplained... and I found myself having to make the occasional "leap of faith" regarding why the characters were doing what they were doing. Part of that might be the use of real archive teevee footage, whether it would have been jarring to switch between the authentic 70's footage and some sort of internal character monologue, I don't know. And really it only felt lacking to me when it came to the reasons for why Harvey had to do what he does (on a personal level, rather than the grand political ideals), or why Josh Brolin's character does what he does. You get the general idea about it, but not that internal explanation.

Whether you need that to make the movie work or not, I don't know... it's still a very affective, as well as affecting movie (okay, so I cried at the very end). And actually one of the most affecting pieces is a tiny little scene with Sean Penn's character and the teenage boy played by Daniel Landroche (who I thought had a name in the movie, but is just listed as "teenage boy" in the credits)... whether it's true or not, or whether it's a distillation of any number of incidents, I don't know, but it was certainly touching.

But even with it's few minor flaws it's still very much worth seeing.

yani's rating: 3 political activists out of 5

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