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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
Scott Smith's last name is never mentioned until the epilogue. Jack Lira's last name is only given in the credits. See more »
While the Castro Street parking meters are historically correct, modern painted T-lines (to define each parking space) are visible. T-lines appear in the 1970s archival footage used in the 1984 documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk." See more »
[reading a threatening note]
'Harvey Milk will have a dream journey and nightmare to hell. A night of horror. He will be stabbed and have your genitals, cock balls and prick cut off.' I'm calling the police.
They probably wrote it. Look at it this way, if they try to kill me I'll get the sympathy vote, we might get the push we need.
You think this is funny? Look at it!
It's a total joke. I mean, it's got no rhythm, humor, it's insulting.
[tacks it to the refrigerator]
Don't do that.
If you put it...
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"Its not about winning, its about making a statement."
Well I'm not sure if this movie will win anything but it certainly made a statement. Milk is about the first openly gay person, Harvey Milk, to be elected to office in America. Milk does a great job in putting face to the gay rights movement which is sorely needed.
The acting was superb by the cast all around starting at the top with Sean Penn. As the film wore on Sean Penn became Harvey Milk. It was not just a portrayal he gave, it was a complete absorption of the man himself. Penn gave a very smart, witty and inspiring performance which carried the film throughout. Josh Brolin gave a very convincing supporting performance as Dan White who is one of Harvey Milk's colleagues. The depth that Brolin gave to his portrayal raised some questions about who Dan White really is. If in fact he is a good man or a bad man, if he is corrupt or honorable or even if he is straight or homosexual. Brolin once again proves to be one of the most overlooked actors in these past few years. Emile Hirsch always lights up the screen and continues to do so in here. James Franco though was quite a surprise to watch. I usually can't stand to watch Franco in any type of role but he proved that he can take on serious roles. This movie might be the statement Franco needed to make.
The writing and directing was very solid overall allowing a greatly assembled cast to shine in so many aspects and ways. What was done in such a great way was the editing. Specifically the editing of archival footage into the movie. Most of the time I find it a bit distracting or annoying when archival footage is used but in here it was a strength. It was perfectly implemented into the movie giving the feeling that you could take the movie more seriously as a telling of a true story rather than just a movie.
Milk was certainly one of the best of 2008 but we will have to see if it can stand the test of time. It made a pretty nice statement but can it win enough hearts and minds to support the gay rights movement like Harvey Milk would have wanted?
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