Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Full Glass of "Milk"

On Thursday night, I saw the new film "Milk." It was my second recent cinematic foray back to the late 1970s -- coming just five days after seeing "Frost/Nixon."

Directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Sean Penn in the title role, "Milk" chronicles the last eight years in the life of slain San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. He is said to be the first openly gay man elected to a major public office in the United States.

As someone who ran several times for the same public office, I think I may have been most drawn to "Milk" for its depiction of Harvey Milk's multiple attempts to get elected -- and the interesting campaign team he assembled around him.

Political nerds everywhere will appreciate that it was the drawing of a favorable electoral district that finally got Milk into office -- as well as some major image adjustments during his transformation from community activist to serious candidate.

"Milk" is deservedly receiving a lot of attention this awards season. Penn's performance certainly could be called one of the best turned in this year by a male lead. (I've been a fan of Penn's ever since "Dead Man Walking.")

I should note that "Milk" avoided the USCCB's "O" rating, receiving an "L" for "limited adult audience." The reviewer called it a "solid biographical drama" and adding, "Director Gus Van Sant brings an almost cinema verite style to the docudrama ... "

Brett McCracken of Christianity Today also gave "Milk" a fairly positive nod.

McCracken concluded, "... 'Milk' achieves what it sets out to do, telling an inspiring tale of one man's quest to legitimize his identity, to give hope to his community. I'm not sure how well it'll play outside of big cities, or if it will sway any opinions on hot-button political issues, but it gives a valiant, empathetic go of it."

As of this writing, "Milk" has a 93 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

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