Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Milk [2008]

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Milk [2008]

Directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk and Josh Brolin as Milk's assassin: Supervisor Dan White. Milk is a biographical film based on the life and of gay rights activist cum politician Harvey Milk who is the first openly gay man to be elected in the California office as a member of San Francisco Board of Supervisor. Also starring Emile Hirsch and Victor Garber.

The opening scene begins with Harvey Milk's archival footage of his tape synchronising the police raiding gay bars and arresting patrons during the 1950s and 1960s, followed by Dianne Feinstein's November 27, 1978, announcement to the press that Milk and Moscone have been assassinated. Milk is seen recording his will throughout the film, nine days (November 18, 1978) before the assassinations. Then it flashes back to where he first met Scott Smith (James Franco) who is much younger then.

Later, Milk and Smith decide to move to San Francisco in the hope of finding larger acceptance of their relationship. They open Castro Camera in the heart of Eureka Valley, a working class neighborhood in the process of evolving into a predominantly gay neighborhood known as The Castro. Frustrated by the opposition they encounter in the once Irish-Catholic neighborhood, Milk utilizes his background as a businessman to become a gay activist, eventually becoming a mentor for Cleve Jones. Early on, Smith serves as Milk's campaign manager, but his frustration grows with Milk's obsessive devotion to politics, and he leaves him.

After two unsuccessful political campaigns in 1973 and 1975 to become a city supervisor and a third in 1976 for the California State Assembly, Milk finally wins a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 for District 5. His victory makes him the first openly gay man to be voted into major public office in the United States. Milk subsequently meets fellow Supervisor Dan White, a Vietnam veteran and former police officer and firefighter. White, who is politically and socially conservative, has a difficult relationship with Milk. He has a growing resentment for Milk, largely due to the attention paid to Milk by the press and his colleagues.

Milk is invited to, and attends, the christening of White's first child, and White asks for Milk's assistance in preventing a psychiatric hospital from opening in White's district, possibly in exchange for White's support of Milk's citywide gay rights ordinance. When Milk fails to support White, White feels betrayed, and ultimately becomes the sole vote against the gay rights ordinance.

On the morning of November 27, 1978, White enters San Francisco City Hall through a basement window to conceal a gun from metal detectors. He requests another meeting with Moscone (Victor Garber), who rebuffs his request for re-appointment. Enraged, White shoots Moscone and then Milk.

It ends with an aerial shot of the candlelight vigil held by thousands for Milk and Moscone throughout the streets of the city.

Although there are lots of gay scenes but nevermind about that because this film has a great tale being told. Whether it's about the society perception, how they are being treated as equal or respected - it's just something we must understand on how exactly they feel and yet treat them equally. This film is so much different from Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain!

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