Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday Movie Madess

I debated whether or not to review the following movie, knowing full and well that I might be judged for my taste in films. But I felt compelled to write a review for one of the most thought provoking movies I have seen in a long time.

As a San Francisco Bay Area native, I was intrigued by the film Milk. Milk is a biographical film that follows the life of Harvey Milk, California's first openly gay politician. Harvey Milk moved to San Francisco in the early 1970's and developed a passion for gay rights as a result of seeing his friends brutally beaten, ostracized and even killed for their sexuality. Milk ran unsuccessfully for political office three times. His theatrical campaigns earned him increasing popularity, and he finally won a seat as a city supervisor in 1977. During his short political career, one of Milk's biggest challenges was dealing with Prop 6 a proposed law which would make it mandatory to fire any openly gay teacher or public school employee. It is not coincidence that the movie concentrates heavily on Prop 6 in the wake of California's controversial Prop 8 which recently repealed the right of same-sex couples to marry. The end of the film shows the brutal murders of both Harvey Milk and San Francisco Mayor Moscone by a fellow, disgruntled politician named Dan White. White was made famous by his "twinkie defense" while on trial for the murders. White's defense claimed that he was in a deteriorated mental state due to a junk food binge the night before he committed the murders.

In the film Milk, Harvey Milk is expertly portrayed by veteran award winner Sean Penn. I had my doubts as to whether or not Penn deserved to win Best Actor for his role in Milk because in my opinion 'gay' movies tend to win unmerited awards (Brokeback Mountain being case in point). Yet, Penn was both engaging and convincing as Harvey Milk. He gave a performance of a lifetime.

Overall, I found Milk to be an excellent film that does not necessarily appeal to a broad audience. The film is a political statement about what has been going on in the state of California in the last year but if you can try to get past the obvious political leanings, Milk is an interesting biography. Be warned that there are erotic scenes ( although not overtly offensive) in this movie. If you are on the conservative side of the spectrum when it comes to your taste in films I would not advise renting Milk. But if you are a bit more liberal in your viewing and up for a movie that will give you food for thought, I would recommend giving Milk a shot.

Grade: A