Sometimes, at a precise moment in history, all it takes is for one person to stand up.

He remained friendly with Scott Smith after they drifted apart because of his immersion in politics. It is emotionally devastating. Milk was the right person in the right place at the right time, and he rose to the occasion.

Gus Van Sant's film begins with Harvey Milk at 48, reflecting into his tape recorder about a personal journey that began at 40. "Milk," from an original screenplay by Dustin Lance Black, tells the story of its hero's rise from disaffected middle-aged hippie to national symbol.

Part of HuffPost Entertainment. In 1977, it was not so. It's military witch hunts; suicides and "experimental therapies," from lobotomies and electro-shock to Christian boot camps. He acquired a personal bullhorn and stood on a box labeled "SOAP."
He developed a flair for publicity. It's ACT UP and chaining ourselves to pharmaceutical companies' fences to protest AIDS drugs price gouging. Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter. In 1977, Harvey Milk became the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States. Not that it doesn't try, kind of.

Few characters could be more different, few characters could seem more real. Penn accurately portrays Milk as the polite public official determined to make social change. Opinionator, communications strategist, and red meat-eating lesbian. We never see more than a tablespoon of blood at a time. (Van Sant ends his film before the White Night riots, where queers burned police cars after the lenient sentencing of Milk's murderer.).

Harvey Milk deserved a better film than this. And every character, including the runaway teen Milk befriends -- Cleve Jones, who survives by turning tricks on the notoriously seedy and dangerous (though never depicted) Polk Street -- looks freshly showered and dressed by the Gap. A researcher at Bache & Co. and a Goldwater Republican, Milk became involved with a hippie theater company in Greenwich Village and began to edge the closet door ajar and wave out tentatively.

Sean Penn amazes me. He shows him as an ordinary man, kind, funny, flawed, shrewd, idealistic, yearning for a better world. He forged an alliance including liberals, unions, longshoremen, teachers, Latinos, blacks and others with common cause. I want fresh rage directed at Barack Obama for thinking that including a gay marching band in his inauguration proceedings compensates for his having invited a notorious homophobe and anti-Semite to give the invocation. ©2020 Verizon Media. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you.

Or sit down. An awkward alliance formed between Milk and White, who was probably gay and used their areas of political agreement as a beard. All rights reserved. Note: What Harvey Milk helped make possible: a very brief, extraordinary speech by current San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders: Why can't gays simply be gays, and "unopenly gays" be whatever they want to seem? But I'm not sure that this low-fat film will really help audience get Milk. It's not about hugging Rick Warren and being satisfied that at least he's being nice about denying us our civil rights. This is actual footage.

Even the candlelight march after Milk's assassination seems less mournful than bovine. Yet Milk is curiously placid and sterile, even prudish. Not long before seeing "Milk," I viewed his work in "Dead Man Walking" again. White was an alcoholic who all but revealed his sexuality to Milk during a drunken tirade, became unbalanced, resigned his position and on Nov. 27, 1978, walked into City Hall and assassinated Milk and Mayor George Moscone. "Milk" tells Harvey Milk's story as one of a transformed life, a victory for individual freedom over state persecution, and a political and social cause. Sean Penn amazes me. The prudent thing would have been to cut ties with Lira, but Milk was almost compulsively supportive. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism. There is a remarkable shot near the end, showing a candlelight march reaching as far as the eyes can see. He creates a character with infinite attention to detail, and from the heart out. Interlaced are his romantic adventures. Ultimately I'm glad that even this pasteurized, homogenized Milk is out there. I am openly heterosexual, but this is the first time I have ever said so. We made it easy for you to exercise your right to vote. Not long before seeing "Milk," I viewed his work in "Dead Man Walking" again.

He shows what such an ordinary man can achieve. The 10-second sex scene we only partially see in a dark bedroom between Milk and a boyfriend is all slap and tickle. Why can't we all be what we prefer? And it comes as the result of one man's decisions in life. "I think he's one of us," Milk confided. It's Stonewall, where we showered raiding police with bottles, locked them in the bar, and set it afire. Rated R

Here he creates a character who may seem like an odd bird to mainstream America and makes him completely identifiable. I want fresh salt poured on the wounds of Proposition 8 so that queers will stop apologizing for being angry with the Mormon and Catholic Church, and for boycotting supporters. Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. Bitch, I've seen queers more fired up when Bed Bath & Beyond runs out of sale items.

Though the camera pulls back to a wide screen view when gays riot against police randomly raiding bars along Castro Street and beating patrons, we never see a cop actually strike anyone, just a lot of carefully choreographed wrestling followed by a scene of Milk dabbing at a small patch of blood on his boyfriend's head. We don't always need to be burning police cars to prove our cred, but we shouldn't be inviting homophobes to the table, then singing their praises if they don't spit on us. for language, some sexual content and brief violence, Ebert Symposium 2020: Part 3 Streaming Today, November 5th, 2020, The Unloved, Part 83: Resident Evil: Retribution, The American Actor: Kevin Costner on Let Him Go. Sean Penn never tries to show Harvey Milk as a hero, and never needs to. Yes, but I have become so weary of the phrase "openly gay." Later, when Milk directs Jones to gather a mob and march them to City Hall after one of Anita Bryant's victories (so Milk can show up to act as peacemaker in front of the press), we get another distant shot of a faceless, strangely lethargic crowd. But so powerful was the movement he helped inspire that I believe his appeal has now pretty much been heeded, save in certain backward regions of the land that a wise gay or lesbian should soon deprive of their blessings. Audiences need to see the film's opening sequence -- silent archival footage depicting police bar raids from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, with men shielding their faces from the cameras even as they are shoved into vans, handcuffed, or held in waiting rooms. Not that it doesn't try, kind of. Milk didn't enter politics as much as he was pushed in by the evidence of his own eyes. Get all the latest election results from across the country, with up-to-the-minute maps and more.

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