Directed by Gus Van Sant
Style: DVD Review
Review originally written for Static Multimedia
One of the primary reasons why I love movies as much as I do is the fact that when they are done right, they are without a doubt the most enjoyable medium through which you are able to gain knowledge. They can teach you so much about the world by accurately depicting a person, a generation, or a country all while making the viewer feel they were right there experiencing it as it was going on.
So was the case with Milk, the brilliant biopic pic about the life of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to a major public office. Now, I am a little ashamed to admit this but unfortunately it’s true. I had no idea who Harvey Milk was. I had not even heard of the guy until I discovered that Sean Penn would be playing him. A little embarrassing but I’ll be the first to admit that I am not exactly the world’s most knowledgeable history buff. However, after watching this movie, I now know a great deal about the man who, in his forties, moved to San Francisco on a whim and ended up becoming a United States politician and the leading voice for the equal rights movement among homosexuals.
Milk is perfectly directed by Gus Van Sant, who proves again how extremely capable he is of making a great film when he’s not “experimenting.” And the script from Dustin Lance Black gives us an impressive amount of knowledge on both the political and personal lives of Harvey Milk without getting boring or drawn out. Apparently the Academy agreed when they awarded him the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
And speaking of Oscars, Sean Penn won another one for his portrayal of the openly gay politician. But unlike his previous Oscar win (and the majority of his roles in general), he doesn’t burn up the screen as this dark, gritty character with a taste for violence. Instead, he is this quirky yet charming middle-aged man with a great sense of humor. His supporting cast is equally as great with Emile Hirsch and James Franco leading the way behind Josh Brolin, who provides outstanding work throughout the film. If Josh Brolin continues at the rate he is going, it won’t be long until he has an Oscar himself.
The DVD comes with a few deleted scenes and a touching featurette titled “Remembering Harvey” which provides insight and footage on the real Harvey Milk. “Hollywood Comes to San Francisco” explores the challenges the filmmakers possessed in making the modern day San Fran look like the one from the 60s and 70s. Regardless of the extras, this DVD is worth it alone for the film. It sheds light on the hope and inspiration that Harvey Milk infectiously spread wherever he went and opens our eyes to a time when America wasn’t so tolerant. It’s a truly enjoyable movie to watch. And if you’re like me, it just might teach you something as well.
Review: 4 out of 4 stars