Thursday, May 21, 2009


Gus Van Sant, 2008 (8.9*)
Terrific and inspiring film from Gus Van Sant (Drugstore Cowboy) about politician Harvey Milk, brilliantly played here by Sean Penn, who really captures his mannerisms. I was in SF when all this happened, and I was appalled by U.S. voters. The U.S. Constitution protects the state from religious domination - religions have freedom but cannot interfere in government, and vice versa; just the way you want it. Democracy does not give a majority the right to suppress the rights of minorities; we set up our system to protect all individuals in spite of their beliefs. The Webster definition of bigotry begins "opposing someone primarily on the basis of religion". Anita Bryant is featured in Milk in documentary footage, and seems to preach the religion of bigotry and hatred (and sounds eerily like the Nazis). Milk realized all this and fought for gay rights as an American Constitutionalist, so he was either going to win or American was going to lose its foundation.

First an aimless corporate worker in New York when gay men were forced into the closet, he moves to San Francisco, looking for a more open attitude. There he becomes a storeowner and facing daily bigotry even there, decides to try to change at least the city government, so that at least one city would be safe for homosexuals. We see him start his political trail by gaining the support of other minority groups, and eventually becomes the first openly gay politician to get elected, to a city council seat.

This is based on the Oscar winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, but Van Sant makes it into a mythic fable of freedom and American democratic folklore, as it should be. Much of this is due to the cast: Sean Penn won an Oscar® for best actor. Oscar®-nominee Josh Brolin as Dan White, was terrifying as the voice of middle-class morality, who resort to guns and violence when they fail to get their way. Milk has the ring of a Capra film, with normal citizens taking steps to make government listen to their rights. Best of all: it’s a true story. Everyone who believes in freedom or just great films should see this one!


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Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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