Sunday, December 07, 2008

Film Review: Milk (2008)

Milk is a solid enough bio-pic/political film. Gus Van Sant does a solid job presenting the story. Sean Penn is great as always, all the supporting actors are quite strong. I don't know if I necessarily buy the closeted Dan White angle, but you have to give him some motivation for his crazy, murderous, hate-filled ways. This was the most unsatisfying part of the film, but not a major problem. It's really not a great film, but it is very good. In fact, I don't know how possible it is for a Hollywood bio-pic to reach real standards of greatness. Van Sant works in the conventions of a genre I don't really like, but in pretty satisfying ways. I could do without the Sean Penn voiceover narration to structure the story. I don't think it's necessary but this is a relatively minor complaint.

My real reason for reviewing the film is not for the review so much (everyone should go see it but it's not going to blow your mind), but to again remind people just how far the gay rights movement has come. The release of Milk is timely because of the passage of Proposition 8. Again though, how far have we come since the time of Harvey Milk! Milk and his supporters were fighting to simply be recognized as people who deserved basic human rights--to not be fired for being gay, to not be killed by thugs or beaten by cops. Today, the gay rights movement is fighting for legally recognized marriage. I doubt Milk would have thought that could be achieved in the next 30 years and the fact that I fully believe it will happen in the next 20 years might amaze him. The gay haters are getting old and dying and their children and grandchildren find that hate antiquated and disgusting.

I again want to emphasize that I am not downplaying the rightful anger over Proposition 8. Rather, I am just taking the long-term perspective to point out that gay rights is on the rise and that gay, lesbian, and bisexual people are moving closer to mainstream acceptance each and every day. Certainly transgender people have greater challenges on this road, but certainly their future is pointing in the right direction as well. In fact, the idea of seeing an openly gay president before I die seems not unlikely.