A look at the life of Alfred Kinsey, a pioneer in the area of human sexuality research, whose 1948 publication "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" was one of the first recorded works that saw science address sexual behavior.
After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.
Using flashbacks from a statement recorded late in life and archival footage for atmosphere, this film traces Harvey Milk's career from his 40th birthday to his death. He leaves the closet and New York, opens a camera shop that becomes the salon for San Francisco's growing gay community, and organizes gays' purchasing power to build political alliances. He runs for office with lover Scott Smith as his campaign manager. Victory finally comes on the same day Dan White wins in the city's conservative district. The rest of the film sketches Milk's relationship with White and the 1978 fight against a statewide initiative to bar gays and their supporters from public school jobs. Written by
Van Sant delivers a great marriage of art and history
Just caught the Portland premiere and have a few thoughts.
Very thankful this film was made. Until now, it seemed like I was fairly alone in knowing about Harvey's legacy. After "Milk" starts getting attention....I hope that a whole new generation will come to know the Mayor of Castro Street (see Randy Shilt's book) and the importance of the gay rights movement.
That being said, Van Sant's "Milk" is great marriage of art and history. Instead of a dry portrait of an assasinated leader, we get a beautifully rendered flavor of the times, and an intimate vision of a man finding his place within a community and history.
Casting is brilliant. Penn inhabits Harvey Milk in a way that few actors I believe would be capable. His physicality and energy is very believable - and it's easy to forget what actor you're watching. After a while...it's just Harvey. I could go on about the supporting cast...all very solid in their own way. James Franco (Scotty) stands out as well....showing his range and willingness to expand as an actor.
Kudos all the way around...I see this film getting several nods at Oscar time.
Additionally...Rob Epstein's Oscar-winning 1984 documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk" is a definite must for anyone who enjoyed this film. I watched it right after "Milk" - and am still impressed with how affecting it is.
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