Amazon Holiday

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Q: What’s the movie about?

A: The true story of the first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), and how he pioneered the gay civil rights movement in San Francisco in the 70s.

Q: Who’s in the movie?

A: Sean Penn, James Franco, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna, Alison Pill, Lucas Grabeel, Victor Garber, Denis O'Hare, Joseph Cross, Howard Rosenman, Brandon Boyce, Kelvin Yu, Stephen Spinella, Anita Bryant

Q: Is this movie worth the price of admission?

A: PhotobucketGo! This movie about political actions which took place 30 years ago couldn't be more timely today, as we juxtapose the election of our first Black president with the overturning of the ruling that gays have the right to marry. The parallels between that time and this one make you question how much progress we've really made, all while feeling inspired about how far we've come. I'm so confused...

Q: Will this movie make me laugh?

A: Put a bunch of gay guys in a room together for two hours, and something is bound to make you laugh.

Q: Will this movie make me cry?

A: If you don't know how this story goes, your chance of tears is high. Likewise, if you're a bigot, a Nazi, a skinhead, a member of the KKK, or any other organization based on hate and segregation (yes, I'm talking about right-wing fundamentalist Christians), you may also cry, but for a whole different set of reasons.

Q: Will this movie be up for any awards?

A: Sean Penn's portrayal of the gay supervisor makes you want to look for him in the race for Oscar-- or even in a gay bar near you.

Q: How is the Acting?

A: Playing gay seems to come a little too naturally to most of these actors. It's almost like they've waited their whole lives for a chance to come out of the closet for these roles. I'd especially like to congratulate Lucas Grabeel of High School Musical fame, who without changing his performance from one movie to the next, fits right into this group of men coming up and coming out in the Castro... Which brings me back to my long standing theory, that fans shouldn't be so surprised when they find out that their favorite actors are secretly gay. Most of our biggest celebrities started out doing theater in high school. And everyone remembers the nickname male theater geeks were donned with in high school. So why do they think that just because they grew up and became sexy and famous that would change? Now, I'm not saying all actors are gay... Just most of them.

Q: How is the Directing?

A: Ah, Gus Van Sant, we have such a tumultuous relationship, you and I. While I don't hate your work on the movies you don't write (like this one), I can't help but still get annoyed at all the gratuitous male bodies that are featured so deliberately in your films, as if their sole purpose is so you can ask hot young men to take off their clothes, without having to seem like the pervert that I'm starting to think you are. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a nice bit of eye candy in my films, and in this film about the gay 70s, it's actually quite appropriate.   But I can't help but be reminded of the similar images from your past films (like Paranoid Park, Last Days, and Elephant), where the shirtlessness of some 16-year-old unknown actor seemed pre-meditavely orchestrated  for the sole purpose of exploitation by a man in a position of power.  Like the boy who cried wolf, it now lessens my ability to enjoy the perfect curves of a James Franco or Diego Luna, but especially of Josh Brolin, for whom the shirtless scene seems totally out of character-- he is, after all, the voice of conservatism in the film-- and his shirtlessness took me out of it.

Q: How is the story/script?

A: The writer manages to circumvent many of the usual trappings of a biopic, by encasing the narrative in a narration that is delivered by Harvey Milk into a Dictaphone, and also by focusing only on the parts of the story that need to be told to move the plot along and get the political points across.

Q: Is there anything else worth mentioning about the movie?

A: I don't often get a chance to share anything personal about myself in this blog, but in this case I must. I was raised in the Castro, and Harvey Milk ran my district. I was very young, and Milk's campaign signs in all the neighborhood windows formed my first recollection of what it meant to vote and have elections. Milk shopped at our supermarket, and we bought film at his camera store, and when I saw him, I told him that my Daddy voted for him. As a young child, I was very proud that my Daddy would vote for a man with such a cool name. I could only have been prouder if his name had been Chocolate Milk.

Q: Where can I see the trailer?


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1 comment:

Farzan said...

Movie looks and sounds great. Also dig the director. Will check out as soon as it comes out around my place. Good review