Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Milk (2008) R - 3½ Stars

Growing up in Hollywood and having many "in the closet" gay friends, I remember what it was like for homosexuals risking harm by just walking down the street. The gay movement was making it's home in San Francisco while here in Hollywood, most young gay boys were either pulling tricks for money, or found "sugar daddy's" that attended their every need. But there were also those gay men who genuinely cared for each other, were involved in committed relationships, and just wanted to go out in public with their lovers without risking ridicule and bodily harm. These were the young men my girlfriend and I hung out with as it made life easier for them to frequent the night scene without drawing too much attention. With females present, they were not targets to angry young men looking for someone to beat up for fun.

I can see why Penn won the Oscar, as he gives an award winning performance playing Harvey Milk, the political activist / homosexual. Just turning 40, Milk becomes the voice for the gay community of San Francisco and eventually gets elected onto the board of Supervisors for the city, becoming the first opening gay man to ever be elected to office. But with his success also came his tragedies, when his young lover took his own life. After turning 48, he would be assassinated by a colleague, Dan White. As a teen, I do remember hearing of a man trying to get off murder charges by his plea of the "Twinkies Defense." Until now, I never made the connection to Dan White being the man responsible for ending Harvey Milk's life. White's attorney argued that because Dan ate junk food, his mind had become chemically imbalanced causing him to shoot and kill both Harvey Milk and State Senator John Briggs (Denis O'Hare). This is the true story of Harvey Milks life and his importance in getting the gay community on the map to acceptance. Other important figures include Scott Smith (James Franco), Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch), Anne Kronenberg (Alison Pill), and Danny Nicoletta (Lucas Grabeel), to name a few.

Focus Features
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Dustin Lance Black
Producers: Bruce Cohen, Michael London, Dan Jinks
I viewed 3/09

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