- From: Ken Rudolph <kenru@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 23 Nov 2008 08:16:44 -0800
Van Sant's film is everything I had hoped for, and even a little more. The performances are superb. Penn may win the Oscar, though his characterization is so subtle and realistically gay (but not in the least stereotypically so), that it may lack the oomph to actually win. I was especially impressed by Emile Hirsch who brings an amazing verve and verisimilitude to the clever young gay twink type, playing Cleve Jones. James Franco (as Milk's smart, attractive long time companion Scott Smith) and Josh Brolin are equally fine...Brolin's role as Dan White is especially difficult, but his nuanced performance (not one Hostess Twinkie in sight) is a revelation. Only Diego Luna misses the mark, I never quite "got" his characterization of the crazy, passionate latino gay lover.
During the '60s and '70s I was spending a lot of time in San Francisco, and I watched Milk's political career from afar, feeling personally involved and invested in it. I wish I had been more politically active, since I might have found some connections with the group around Castro Camera that I missed out on. As it is, the only person from the film that I actually knew as a friend was only mentioned peripherally, the gaybashing murder victim Robert Hillsborough, whose martyrdom apparently helped push Milk towards political activism.
In any case, I can attest that this film's depiction of the Castro and the San Francisco gay scene at the times is eerily accurate. I have to give maximum props to the screen writer, Dustin Lance Black, too young to have been there, but absolutely in sync with the events. Along with his other script this year, for the so far unseen PEDRO (Zamora) biopic, he is fulfilling my early assessment (after his amazing 2001 documentary ON THE BUS) that he is one hell of a talent. http://kenru.net/movies/2001_outfest.html#BUS
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