Milk

Milk

94%

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Milk Reviews

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February 23, 2010
(First and only viewing - In my mid-twenties)
Matty Stanfield
July 30, 2014
I saw this in the cinema twice. And both times I felt guilty for not really liking this film as much as everyone else seemed to like it. Acting is fine. But, there is something oddly "pedestrian" about the whole movie.
December 1, 2008
Incredibly powerful, stunning performances, great score and costumes.
February 2, 2013
A moving and poignant true story that will resonate today more than ever, Milk is a political drama that delivers emotionally. In his Oscar-winning role, Sean Penn gives Harvey Milk the sensitivity and courage that was required. Milk represents an extraordinary person in a time when it was not easy to be so. While not quite as strong as its other political counterpart, Frost/Nixon, Milk will still show you what can be accomplished through perseverance. An excellent film that borders on must-see in this day and age.
July 6, 2014
Milk is a great story due to a wonderful lead performance by Sean Penn as the famous politician Harvey Milk and as well as the story being told so brilliantly by director Gus Van Sant
February 15, 2009
Maybe it is just me, but the current crop of Oscar worthy movies seem to have performances by the lead which outstrip the movie (cf The Wrestler). Penn is, of course, outstanding in this film and the story is a compelling one, however I found the overall movie to be good, not great. Me thinks this one "santised for the mainstream" whereas a grittier portrayal of the times may have been more satisfying.
July 2, 2014
My favorite movie accurately reflects my own personal experiences. Such a huge step forward for our people. I feel like Sean Penn is me. AFter taking my parents to see this movie they now have a better understanding of what I face on a daily basis and who I am as a person. My life partner and I are so thankful for this film we will definitely be purchasing.
D P.
June 29, 2014
Powerful, wonderful, thoughtful
June 23, 2014
Some stunning direction in this movie. Really. Gus Van Sant's use of reflection floors me. The transition between the scene where they talk about the whistles, and the scene that plays out entirely in the metallic reflection of the whistle was genius, GENIUS.
June 23, 2014
Great film about a important person in the gay rights movement, this film is a fantastic example of Sean Penn acting his chop off, he is simply fantastic in this role.
The hardest part of the film for me though was revisiting some of the attitudes of the time. I wish we had moved forward in our thinking but sadly for some people, it just doesn't seem possible they ever will
June 13, 2014
While Sean Penn is commited and the films goal is courageous, Milk is disappointingly lacklustre and seems more intent on opposing homophobia than supporting homosexuality.
June 12, 2014
Love, Love, Love this true story. Sean Penn is amazing as Harvey Milk, such an inspiration for gay rights and just rights for all in general. A very powerful film & message to be seen and heard. A must watch/own!!!
June 10, 2014
A powerful and inspiring film following the life of Harvey Milk, an openly gay man who stood for office and in turn inspired countless individuals. A performance of Penn is worthy of immortalising an inspiring and courageous man during a time in America where being gay could cost your life.
June 5, 2013
Calling this film Oscar worthy is an understatement!
September 6, 2013
Scoring Sean Penn his second Academy Award for Best Actor, Milk sounded like something definitely worth a watch.

I have a lot of respect for the way Gus Van Sant treated homosexuals in Milk. Instead of treating them simply as victims of an intolerant society, he portrayed them as fierce and willing human beings who will stand up for what's right. He portrays all gays as heroes for being willing to stand up for themselves, and it reminds us just what kind of battle so many gays still face today, whether they are hiding in the closet or out and being mocked for it. Milk uses the story of Harvey Milk not to preach a message of tolerance, but to express a story of heroism. And that kind of treatment is one of the greatest things that Gus Van Sant has ever done. On that purpose alone, he very well deserved the Academy Award nomination for Best Director that he scored. But he also deserves it because this is the first film in years that he has actually had a sensible grip over, and he takes the opportunity to direct Milk and runs with it by creating a thoughtful biopic which looks at both the political world that Harvey Milk lived in as well as insight who he was. Although Milk isn't perfect, it finds the appropriate balance for what it focuses on in the life of Harvey Milk so that it educates as well as inspires. While watching Milk, I found my spirits seriously lifted by the sheer passion of the film and my admiration for Gus Van Sant increased, as well as the fact that I even found myself more willing to stand up for the rights of others after Milk. As a person who openly supports the gay community, I found Milk captured both the big picture about homosexuality in society and the little picture about how it was affecting all the people who just want to be accepted. Milk doesn't shove ideas down the throats of viewers, it simply makes suggestions and uses the medium of a powerful story about a wonderful man as its front. It is consistently well scripted and full of great dialogue which is intelligent and cleverly comedic at times as well as the fact that it captures the natural language of its time setting as well.
And Milk is visually terrific as well because the scenery is very befitting to the time setting of the film and combines with the fine cinematography to be an atmospheric film which captures the large scale of the effect that Harvey Milk had on the world.
But there is nothing in Milk that stands out precisely as much as Sean Penn's flawless portrayal.
I have no idea what Harvey Milk was like when he was alive, but Sean Penn dedicates his performance to him amazingly. One of the first things that he focuses on characterising Harvey Milk as is a likable person. Harvey Milk is such a nice man, a very likable figure. But most importantly, he was proud of who he was and was not scared to make a stand even in the face of death threats and discrimination. And Sean Penn is not afraid to do it either. Sean Penn dedicates himself to the part with a mix of sophistication and flamboyance as well as the fact that he is genuinely willing to stand up for what it right. Sean Penn looks the part perfectly because he has the perfect face for the role, and his haircut changes to fit into the context of Harvey Milk's life in various situations over his lifespan. He captures the heroism of the character without skimping on the fear of him and the fact that he was both a symbol and a human being, and it is one of the most spectacular performances of his career if not his absolute best. Sean Penn has never been more compelling up on screen than when he played Harvey Milk in Milk, and he puts in a lot of excellent little elements such as an energetic smile and his ability to capture the charms of the audience the same way that Harvey Milk captures the support of followers everywhere. Sean Penn is in top form in Milk, and it is not hard to see how he won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Josh Brolin doesn't get as much screen time as you might hope in Milk, and he manages to portray Dan White to an extend where viewers can even sympathise for him until he commits the final action of the film which changed history forever. Josh Brolin takes on the role with serious acting strength and puts a lot of complex depth into the character which renders him a powerful screen presence. Josh Brolin's supporting performance in Milk proves to be one of the best of his career.
Emile Hirsch's performance is powerful because of the kind of complex chemistry that he shares with Sean Penn and for his natural youthful charisma which ends up adding both drama and energy to Milk.
James Franco's exuberance is also refreshing in one of the best dramatic roles of his career, and Alison Pill's small performance is a breakout into adult acting for her in a charming and compelling effort which is dramatic and admirable.

So Milk is an excellent film for a number of reasons. It is scripted very well and pays tribute to Harvey Milk himself and his cause with honesty and fairness as well as the fact that it shows a new side to director Gus Van Sant who tackles possibly his greatest film to date, but nothing stands up as much as Sean Penn's perfect portrayal of the titular man which is so honest, dramatic and lovable that it shines a massive ray of light on both the life of the man he is playing and the career of the actor himself who would go on to win the Best Actor Academy Award for the role.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

August 10, 2011
I don't know who would say that sequels are never better than their predecessor after seeing this, "All the Queen's Men". Sean Penn jokes aside, it's the story of the Martin Luther King of gay rights, Martin Luther Queen! I can go on all day with these puns, but no, you have to keep the "K" in that surname, because a name featuring the letters M, L and K seems to be the secret to fighting for civil rights, and fighting for gay rights seems to be the secret to getting Gus Van Sant back into making films in a way that the general public he's aiming to preach to can actually watch. Man, I was getting just about tired of Van Sant's experimental dramas, and with "Paranoid Park", they were actually starting to get decent, although compared to this film, "Paranoid Park" is more like "Gerry". If nothing else, this film is for those Sean Penn fans who would, well, actually think that my "All the Queen's Men" joke is funny, and actually wanted to see Penn show up on screen in "Into the Wild", although it's easy to fear that you might see Penn and Emile Hirsch a little too close here. Hirsch is pretty much the only guy in this film who doesn't hook up with Penn at some point, and that's surprising, because Penn is charming enough when he's not fruity, although, in all fairness, he was married to Madonna for a while, and as many gay friends as she seems to have, that just had to rub off on Penn a little. Well, whatever got him to this point, he sure is "fabulous" in this film, which isn't too much less than that, but nonetheless less (Wait, so it's no less less?), for a couple of reasons.

I sure can appreciate a good, well-rounded biopic, but this particular formula has been done time and again, and while the subject matter is refreshing, its interpretation rather lazily falls into plotting trope after plotting trope, and not even tightly. Running just shy of 130 minutes, this film seems like it ought to be tight to cover so much layered material, and sure enough, it often is, but about as often, it drags its feet, with certain excesses in filler and material that all but thin, or at least convolute focus. Whether it reflected through a serious confusion to the using certain important supporting characters, or through certain political conflicts that Harvey Milk faces, uneven focus stands as a relatively serious issue resulting from the film's sticking too long with a certain layer, until slipping into aimlessness that isn't helped by pacing's being made all the more awkward by its own unevenness. As much as I gripe about the slow spells, about as big of an issue is rushed spells, which exacerbates the focal inconsistencies by limiting the flesh-out of layer, and wearing down on you with repetition that, before too long, proves to be detrimental to the steam of the drama. Worst of all, the rushing underexplores material, particularly when it comes to, of all things, Milk's political career, cutting through all of the potential layers to focus more on core themes regarding homosexual acceptance that, no matter how worthy, get to be abrasive, sometimes to the point of being placed over dramatic depth. Gus Van Sant, as a proud homosexual director, and Dustin Lance Black, as a proud homosexual screenwriter, take on this project with a wealth of palpable and pretty admirable ambition, and as you get used to their efforts, it's hard to deny that it pays off enough to craft an endeavor that is not simply second only to "Good Will Hunting" as Van Sant's best film, but a strong drama by its own right, and yet, to be honest, this could have gone so much further than something as effective as "Good Will Hunting", and it would have been if it wasn't too ambitious, being overblown with its themes and certain storytelling attributes, to where it has trouble focusing on the little things, like conventions and pacing issues, that subtly, but surely, hold the final product back. With that said, the film is only held shy of outstanding, being, meeting ambition with enough inspiration to compel with strong elements after strong element, even with style.

Musical style even plays a solid role in livening up entertainment value, yet the delightful '70s pop tunes are surprisingly underplayed, at least compared to one of Danny Elfman's most unique and inspired scores in years, which is balanced well enough in Elfman's classic whimsy - seemingly augmented with some James Horner-esque elements - and traditionalist enough in its subtle sweep to establish a certain uniquely grand feel for this layered and colorful drama. Visual style also subtly, but surely, and uniquely breathes life into his drama, as Harris Savides delivers on cinematography that nails a certain '70s haze and combines it with beautiful modern tastes in soft lighting that crafts an almost dreamy look for the film. While it marks Gus Van Sant's relatively triumphant return to traditional storytelling styles, this film also, as irony would have it, marks another step in Van Sant's movement to innovate style pretty attractively, with musical and visual tastes that lighten up a sense of conventionalism to this drama, but, unlike the style of the "Death Trilogy" or, to a less severe extent, "Paranoid Park", don't overshadow the value of the substance. Although its themes regarding the acceptance of homosexuality in the public eye may be controversial, perhaps even viewed as propagandist in its emphasis by some, this story concept's depth is undeniable, being a layered and extensive study on a man's transformation as a great, but flawed force in pursuit of political and social respect, and personal freedom for himself and his peers, undercut to a moderate extent, and brought to life by a script by newcomer Dustin Lance Black that, despite its conventions, inconsistencies in pacing and focus, and fair deal of subtlety issues, charms with thorough wit, and is generally tightly extensive in its characterization. Of course, more than Black, the performers really bring the characters - if you want to call these real-life figures that - to life, and that particularly goes for, say, the charismatic James Franco, Emile Hirsch and Diego Luna, the subtly intense Josh Brolin, and, of course, leading man Sean Penn, who is nothing short of utterly outstanding in his fearless portrayal of the titular Harvey Milk, defined by impeccable mannerisms and dynamite charisma, though not as much as nuance and soaring heights in emotional layering that sell Milk's transformations and fears as a man of respect seeking tremendous justice, in spite of almost equally tremendous risks. Penn carries the film with arguably one of the defining performances of his career, but really, as great as Penn very much is in this film, his performance is not the only one that drives this drama, because at the end of the day, this is Van Sant's passion project, and although such passion bloats ambition to the point of some storytelling awkwardness, Van Sant is as inspired as he ever has been in a long, long time, with a thoughtfulness that is controlled enough for entertainment value to not go lost, and for dramatic value to be unraveled organically enough for you to be immersed into many areas of depth, feeling the progression of this layered drama as its scope expands more and more, yet never at the risk of losing intimacy as a character study. The film takes way too long to ascend to its soaring heights to stand out on the whole, but the fact of the matter is that the effort gradually grows in compellingness and emotional resonance, with enough glimpses into what could have been, through all of the conventions, unevenness, underexplorations and overambition, to craft a drama which is not simply rewarding, but enthralling.

When it's all said and done, the film hits more than a few tropes and focal inconsistencies as it drags along, until slow spells go broken by rushed spells that not only bear down with a sense of repetition, but limit expository extensiveness, if not subtlety to go thinned down, thus leaving a promising drama to go held back, at least from excellence, but not so far back that Danny Elfman's lovely score work, Harris Savides' stunning cinematography, Dustin Lance Black's clever and generally well-rounded writing, Sean Penn's stellar lead performance, and Gus Van Sant's inspired directorial performance, which grows all the greater as things progress, aren't able to drive "Milk" as a consistently compelling, gradually enriching, and altogether solid portrait on a man's struggle with his peers, and to preserve rights for all people of any form.

3.25/5 - Strong
February 24, 2014
By far one of the best movies I've seen in my entire life. The world is a better place for having had Harvey Milk in it, and for having this film immortalise him in memory. Sean Penn captures Harvey Milk's personality to a T, and James Franco gives a remarkably sympathetic performance as Scott Smith. Triumphant but tragic, Milk only gets better the more times you watch it.
April 26, 2014
A strong movie, but the audio was somewhat weird, too much quiet talk mixed with loud music made it hard to hear everything.
April 13, 2014
Yeah it's a "message movie", but it's a good one of that - good performances and great direction makes it tied with Dead Poet's Society for Gus Van Sant's best film
March 21, 2014
Penn is magnificent and, while I liked it a lot it still kept me wanting more. That's not such an awful thing, I guess.
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