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Groggy
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« on: January 12, 2009, 01:04:59 PM »

I think this film deserves it's own thread given its Oscar contention. Has anyone here seen it yet?

I'll probably be seeing it next weekend unless I get sidetracked by Slumdog Millionaire (which is possible). I've no great interest in the subject matter but I'll give it a look anyway, it's not like I have anything better to do on a Friday night.

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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2009, 01:10:25 PM »

I think this film deserves it's own thread given its Oscar contention. Has anyone here seen it yet?

I really don't want to see this crowd pleaser.

A Gus Van Sant movie with no edge is of very low interest to me.



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« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2009, 01:24:49 PM »

It looks like it could be good but I doubt it will be great. I'd be more than happy to be surprised though. Afro (And if I'm disappointed, I can always write a vitriolic review... Cheesy)

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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2009, 02:24:46 PM »

It is a brilliant film.
GVS best since the classic DRUGSTORE COWBOY (i wouldn't categorize it as a "Crowdpleaser" good will hunting  MORE  ACCURATELY FITS THAT DESCRIPTION)

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« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2009, 03:02:52 PM »

Milk= good will hunting 


I was afraid of that.

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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2009, 03:08:08 PM »


I was afraid of that.

I think he said he wouldn't categorize it as that... I don't see how Milk, where the titular character gets blown away, will be too much of a crowd pleaser.

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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2009, 03:11:43 PM »

I think he said he wouldn't categorize it as that... I don't see how Milk, where the titular character gets blown away, will be too much of a crowd pleaser.

I know what he meant. I was just putting into perspective what I didn't want to see using his quote.

Dead Poet Society also has a tragedy in it and it still manages to be a crowd pleaser.
I know DPS is not a Van Sant film but I'm always reminded of GWH when it is mentioned...perhaps it is the participation of Williams. I don't know.


And for the record, I hate both movies.

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« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2009, 03:31:24 PM »

I don't see how Milk, where the titular character gets blown away, will be too much of a crowd pleaser.
1) He's liberal
2) He's gay

I'll be pleased.

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« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2009, 03:32:34 PM »

Dead Poet's Society is okay but it's a bit too formualic and predictable for me to really dig it. I've known a lot of people in high school and college who love it for God knows what reason, though. Haven't seen Good Will Hunting though.

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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2009, 03:49:08 PM »

1) He's liberal

Why weren't you jumping for joy when Paul Newman died then? Roll Eyes

Also, good job being homophobic. Afro

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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2009, 02:50:46 PM »

I'll be seeing this tonight if I can get a bus in time.

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« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2009, 06:30:11 PM »

It won't please the Bible Belt crowed.

Oh wait, he gets shot in the end...

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Whalestoe
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« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2009, 06:33:02 PM »

It won't please the Bible Belt crowed.

Oh wait, he gets shot in the end...

Yeah, I'm sure that would make them happy. It really helps them with their whole "treat your neighbor as you would treat oneself" preaching.

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« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2009, 08:18:59 PM »

Just got back from this movie, and indeed, FC's prejudices were spot on for once.

The film was pretty much a standard, slickly polished biopic. It deserves some degree of credit perhaps for not overly sanitizing or skimming over Milk's homosexuality - though given the subject matter it would have been very hard to do - like, say, Capote did, but that's the highest praise I can give it. It followed a fairly predictable story arc; establish lonely misfit, give him a task to perform, change him into, tragic ending. Add narration/framing device and use of archival news footage to plug up gaps in the story. Been done a million times before, occasionally better. Technically it was well-made but nothing remarkable. The movie just had a cold, distant feel throughout that it only rarely transcended; even the big moments of emotion like the near-riot, the suicide of Milk's boyfriend and the assassination seemed curiously muted.

The movie's biggest problem is that its character development is very tertiary. Milk isn't really a compelling or interesting character, to me anyway, he's more of a symbol for what he stands for. That may be understandable but it prevented me from really caring about him or getting involved in his cause. The supporting cast are even more shallow; Josh Brolin's character is the only one who approaches depth, but even he's let down by the fact that we don't learn what's driving him (except a rather crass intimation that he's a closeted gay himself). The acting isn't bad but perhaps due to the straight-jackets the script imposes, it isn't anything remarkable either; Penn and Brolin are the only two actors who have much to do and both of them have done much better work elsewhere.

I won't say I was disappointed but it didn't live up to the awards hype. 6/10, #13/20 for 2008.

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« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2009, 09:20:36 PM »

Full-length review. I'll dispense with this fairly quickly.

Quote
Tonight's entry in Groggy's Oscar-thon is Gus Van Sant's Milk. In spite of the considerable awards hype it has received, it's a fairly typical entry in the sanitized Hollywood biopic genre. That it's getting Best Picture and Best Actor buzz isn't overly surprising - the subject matter and the film's format as a standard glossy Hollywood biopic are the stuff Oscar gold is made of - but anyone who thinks that's indicative of its quality, or that there's anything original about it, should be wary.

The film tells the life story - well, the important parts - of Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), the gay rights activist who rose to position of San Francisco City Supervisor in the late '70s, leading in no small way to the legitimization of the gay rights movement - and his assassination at the hands of disgruntled fellow Supervisor Dan White (Josh Brolin). We see key points in Harvey's life - as a closeted New York insurance salesman who falls in love with Scott Smith (James Franco), comes out of the closet and lives as a camera salesman in San Francisco, his disgust at anti-gay discrimination and rallying the gay community, his early campaigns for city council, his breakup with Scott and messy relationship with Jack Lira (Diego Luna), his victory and successful lobbying for gay rights, and of course his fatal encounter with Dan White.

Milk touches all the bases of the slick by-the-numbers Hollywood biopic that we're all so familiar with. Start out with a post-mortem framing device (in this case a narrated tape recording). Give us a quirky outsider hero. Give him a task to complete for selfish gain. Let that task blossom into a greater cause, and have protagonist achieve success against seemingly all odds. Throw in personal turmoil. Build to tragic finale. Insert archival news footage and narration to plug up narrative gaps and keep the story moving. It's all adequately done, but it's been done so many times before it's hard to be impressed by it.

The movie's biggest failure is in its character development. Like many if not most biopics, its characterization is largely tertiary; it projects the image of Harvey Milk, but doesn't really explore who he was as a person, beyond the cause he stood for. His relationship and personal life is dealt with rather perfunctory manner, and even those who know nothing about Harvey can guess the trajectory of his relationships with the loyal Scott and testy Jack. Dan White is a more interesting character, but remains similarly underdeveloped; we learn nothing about what's driving him, aside from some allusions to his standing as outsider (why? We don't really know) and a crass insinuation that he may himself be a closeted gay. Supporting characters don't even rise to that level; they're just background noise, in large part. Only Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch), the loud-mouthed streetwalker-turned-activist, stands out in any real way, and its his absurd, obnoxious geekiness rather than depth as a character that sets him apart.

Arthouse director Gus Van Sant (Elephant, Gerry) is at the helm, giving a directoral performance little better than a high-paid Hollywood hack. Everything is technically proficient but barely more than adequate. The movie has a cold, produced feel; even the film's emotional high points - the near-riot, Jack's suicide, and the final assassination - have a curiously muted and distant feel Perhaps it's because we know what's coming, but one would expect such a talented director as Van Sant to make it more interesting than he ultimately does.

The acting is only as good as the script allows. Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk as a nice guy with a cause, but not much beyond that. Penn isn't bad, but he's given far better performances and it certainly isn't worthy of particular distinction. Josh Brolin does an admirable job with an underwritten and underdeveloped part; I'm reminded of his turn as President Bush in W last fall, where he gave a similarly heroic but fruitless effort. Emile Hirsch, James Franco, Victor Garber, Diego Luna and Alison Pill all do yeoman's work, but their characters are little more than thumbnail sketches.

I won't say Milk is a huge disappointment; it does what it wants to do adequately, but little more. It's a standard Hollywood "life story", with all the inherent flaws and limitations. If it turns some people onto gay rights and renews recognition, then all the power to it, but as a work of cinema it's nothing remarkable. 6/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/01/milk.html

« Last Edit: January 19, 2009, 09:29:22 PM by Groggy » Logged


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