Friday, January 23, 2009

Harvey Milk

When Melinda and I started this blog last summer, I made up a set of personal rules that I try to follow. In an effort not to alienate anyone, a big one for me was not to blog about politics, even through the heart of the election season just past. My friends and relatives likely know I'm liberal, and generally they are all conservative. But we get along fine because I don't argue politics, or for that matter, religion, gun control, abortion rights, or gay rights. I don't preach my opinion because everyone is entitled to their own. I will clarify a misconception someone may have about something I know, and I try to be well-read on current events, but generally, I don't campaign for causes.

Today, with the Oscar buzz surrounding the new movie Milk, we caught a matinee. I've actually tried to see it twice, but for interesting reasons, this was the one that worked out... Anyway, I've been a bit of a Sean Penn fan - I've enjoyed many of his movies since he played Spicoli on "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" way back in '82. Here, he portrays Harvey Milk, America's first openly-gay man elected to public office.

The fact that the movie is about a gay character may keep some of you away but it shouldn't. Likely you know a homosexual. I've got gay friends and an acquaintance of mine died of AIDS in the early '80s. You cannot reject a portion of the population that may include 10% of us or more.

There have been many recent biographic movies that have been lauded with Academy Awards lately - the Ray Charles and Johnny Cash biopics come to mind immediately. But here in Milk is a life to be celebrated! Some of my memories of the '70s are fuzzy, particularly the narrative of current events of that age, and I don't recall ever seeing Harvey Milk on TV, though I do recall the gay rights battle with Anita Bryant and Milk's shooting along with San Fransisco Mayor Moscone in 1978. In this movie Penn portrays him as an ordinary man being at the right place at the right time to step up not only for gay rights, but for Blacks, Latinos, teachers and union workers. The performance is spectacular and as you can see from our movie reviews, it was the only movie that we both gave a "10" (Melinda didn't get to see "Bolt 3D", and I'm a stereo nut). We both agree that if Penn doesn't get the Best Actor Oscar, the AMPAS has lost all credibility! Please see it if you can - you may not be liberal or approve of the gay lifestyle, but if you enjoy movies and are interested in groundbreaking American stories, go see this movie!


Anonymous said...

I think you have the best movie reviews. I had no idea about Harvey Milk, he's a bit before my time. After reading your blog, I immediately Google'd everything I could and was surprised to learn about the origin of the twinkie defense, among other things. After reading your blog, I just may go check out the movie myself. Keep on blogging! ~Ewica

Anonymous said...

Without a doubt, The Reader, (based on the book Der Vorleser, written by German Law Professor Bernard Schlink) is the best film of 2008. In all situations regarding tragic loss of life, the law attempts to understand, and often does not. The law attempts to apply itself to a situation, and is constrained by the level of knowledge, and understanding of the situation, at the time of its application. The Reader, indeed, as the promo suggests, will challenge everything you think you believe. In the movie, the law professor states that “societies think they live by morality, but they don’t.” In fact, he goes on to say, societies live by the laws of the land and of the times. This is reflected in the colloquialism that “one cannot legislate morality” and yet, many of the foundational laws of our land and in this time, were developed from some very basic moral precepts.

The Reader will take you on a journey of many common human emotional twists and turns over a lifetime, and will indeed challenge one’s perspective based on one’s level of knowledge or understanding at a given time. It is a provocative journey into the human emotional condition, and has so many different facets to the understanding and interpretation of events, that it will make you think, about what you think.

Robert Frost had it quite right when he wrote this:
“... so when at times the mob is swayed, to carry praise or blame too far, we can choose something like a star, to stay our minds on, and be staid.”

Without offense to anyone here, Milk, is milk toast, by comparison. Sadly, the application of law fails to unveil much of the truth behind the tragedy, and politicizes and immortalizes an event promoting the end as a means unto itself.

“ … so when at times the mob is swayed, to carry praise or blame too far, we can choose something like a star, to stay our minds on and be staid.”