Milk/The Times Of Harvey Milk
June 30, 2016 § Leave a comment
Concluding LGBT Pride Movie Month for this year, I have taken good thoughts on stuff I liked and enjoyed whether it’s a Bisexual musical fantasy, a Transgender lover’s revenge tale or an ongoing BDSM Lesbian adventure and all those are done positive and right with nothing tragic in a sense. But speaking of tragic, I am looking at two movies involving the first openly gay man to be elected in office which he is a member for a year before he got assassinated and his career became one of the standing points in LGBT history. The man was Harvey Bernard Milk.
Those two movies I’m looking at are of course Gus Van Sant’s Milk which involves the dramatization of the politician as well as The Times Of Harvey Milk, a 1984 documentary that won an amount of awards and became so significant in both LGBT community and film circles that has been given a Criterion Collection treatment and its place in the United States Library of Congress. Now both Gus and the documentary’s director Rob Epstein have their own history of the movie scene. Gus is honestly a mixed bag for me since he did bring us Good Will Hunting and Finding Forrester but he also remade Psycho and made a movie called Gerry.
As for Rob, I had only seen one movie of his several years ago before this review – The Celluloid Closet – which shows its film history of homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender which he co-directed with Jeffrey Friedman. Other than documentaries, there’s also dramatic biopics that both Rob and Jeffrey did with Linda Lovelace’s life in Lovelace and one for Allen Ginsberg for Howl. Now these two movies are of course differed but based upon Randy Shilts’ biography The Mayor of Castro Street (even in a loosely sense for Milk) and me giving a short synopsis on both films is gonna be tricky but I would give it a try.
First, I’m going with Milk since honestly, it’s the first movie I seen involving him. It focus on eight years of Harvey’s life (as played by Sean Penn) from his first meeting with his former lover Scott Smith (James Franco) to both moving from New York to San Francisco and lead to Harvey becoming a gay activist before he eventually become a city supervisor with the help of his friends including Anne Kronenberg (Alison Pill), Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch) and others. It also lead to a working relationship with Dan White (Josh Brolin) which became difficult to the point that he at first resigns that both kill Harvey and San Francisco mayor George Moscone (Victor Garber) in the process.
The documentary also goes with the similar approach except rather than playing it dramatically, it involves archival footage and interview from Anne and Tom Ammiano while being narrated by actor Harvey Fierstein. In fact, this one shows a more complete take on Milk as well as the aftermath of his death up until 1984 which involves Dan’s release after his stay in prison. And this documentary did came in a time when the LGBT scene has started to grow not just in pop culture standards but also in a time when AIDS/HIV crisis was happening and it still is but not as big as back then. Honestly, the documentary is good and I can see why it’s critically acclaimed so I think I should get back to talk about the other movie since there’s not much to said here except that I liked it.
So getting back to Milk and I liked it as well because again, Gus is a mixed bag director but he did make good works and this is one of them. I am not much of a fan of Sean Penn due to few controversial stances like him making that Green Card comment at the Oscars and his awkward marriage with Madonna that is so awkward that you can see it in Shanghai Surprise. But he did have good roles like Calito’s Way and Mystic River so I can separate the art from the artist in this sense. And other actors did a good job like Emile, Josh, Diego Luna and Alison. Even James give a good performance and I actually do have plans on looking into his movies in the future and some words about it (including The Masterpiece which I do want to see).
Given that I took on two movies, the only thing I have to ask is how far we go since Milk’s place in history. While the community is progressing to the point where acceptance is growing, there is however faults involved which targets anybody who’s gay, lesbian, bi or transgender as minorities from religious followers and bigots and hate crimes including the recent tragedy that is the Orlando Pulse Shooting. And not since 911 has there been a happening that affects anybody in the whole world and it’s been few weeks but it is something that’s hard to move on.
And despite the negativity, there is still positivity even after the saddened incident with Pope Francis mentioning that Christians and Catholic churches should forgive the community for the past to many publicly come out in social circles like Twitter which includes former child star Mara Wilson and yeah, even me. So maybe we’re still on the path to where the whole world is not yet ready to accept anybody who is out but it is starting to and Harvey’s story is an inspirational one so he may have a senseless death but it won’t be forgotten and will be remembered in San Francisco, Stonewall, Orlando and anywhere else in the world.
In my honest opinion, I can’t choose which is a better movie since both are good so it’s best to check out both and you make your choice which I hope it’s a good for one or both. And there does it for this month, So now I have to get to sort-of normal schedule with finishing up on Zack Snyder’s filmography and a good time since Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is coming out soon (unless you got the ultimate cut in digital form) and I got one review to finish up so until then.