Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thoughts On This Year's Oscars

By Alec Horowitz

The set to the Oscars was puzzling this year. They tried to make the set look smaller and less glamorous. The opening number by host Hugh Jackman openly acknowledged this. He used what looked like paper cutouts to show to show the Oscars where going to be toned down and Hollywood was more in touch with America. Ok, let me just say this. If the Oscars wanted to look more in touch with America, than they minus will of just took ‘The Reader’ out of the best picture category and replaced it with ‘The Dark Knight’. Come on, this is the Oscars. I don’t want them to be in touch with the unglamorous picture painted by a speech by President Barack Obama on the economy. I want my Oscar’s big and glamorous. I want to feel like I’m sitting in a movie theater during the great depression, as I forget my troubles, and the biggest problem in the world is Gene Kelley needs to find a way to make rain fun.

There where some lovely moments, though. Heath Ledger’s family was lovely. They weren’t overly ghoulish, and they didn’t break out into tears. They where moving about the way they spoke how Heath would of liked to be honored by his peers. Though, most of this night was kind of a disaster. The idea of having each presenter take us through how a movie is made wasn’t a good idea. I mean, the truth is movie buffs already know this and those watching for escapism don’t care. I did like having each actor or actress say something about each nominee. I thought it was wonderful to see long shot Richard Jenkins get nominated. He looked slightly uncomfortable sitting there in the audience, but for me, that’s part of his charm. His performance in ‘The Visitor’ was wonderful. Though, I was surprise to see Sean Penn win the Oscar for Best Actor, because of all the hype that was surrounding Mickey Rourke. Rourke gave an over the top and wonderful performance in ‘The Wrestler’ but Sean Penn gave the performance that deserved to win.

Also, it was nice to see ‘Frozen River’ nominated for best original screenplay. I was happy to see ‘Milk’ win for best original screenplay as well. Best improvement over the overrated indie clichéd filled script that won an Oscar last year (do I even need to say it?) Though, this was clearly ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ night and rightly so. While there where other wonderful films nominated that year, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ was unique. The night, though, wasn’t very good. The feeling of the Oscars just didn’t feel like the Oscars. There’s nothing wrong with escapism, and the Oscars are the ultimate escapism. Go over the top, Oscars. Be distasteful, and I encourage the Oscars to discard good taste with regard to the rest of the nation. This is why people go see movies. While the rest of the world is falling apart, at least we can be told stories, and that’s wonderful.

So, next year, take my advice, Oscars. Go over the top. We watch to escape. We don’t watch to be remained. Though, there are some important points made during the Oscars, as the point made by Dustin Lance Black about the unacceptable treatment of homosexuals in America. It’s a perfect example of why the escapism is important, because sometime’s it's possible to escape but also learn something as well and that’s important. The crop of Oscar nominated films this year where socially aware. When was the last time you thought about India? Homosexual rights? Or illegal immigrants? (Frozen River and The Visitor, the two indies nominated this year) It’s painfully important. Stories are important. Never forget film is important.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Vetting, Vetting, Gone

By Alec Horowitz

The Obama Administration has been having a ton of problems with vetting lately. Their first choice for Security of Commence seemed like a slam-dunk, and as we know by the Bush Administration’s use of the word, slam-dunk is not a good thing. Bill Richardson, former Presidential candidate, popular Hispanic governor of New Mexico and someone who looked like Santa Clause with the bread added. He seemed good when he first stepped foot into the appointment, but soon has to resign because he was being investigated by the federal government. Uh, ok. Well, it’s one mistake. Obama can overcome this! Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes, we can vet the next person right. Yes, Tom Daschle can!

Tom Daschle was appointed to be security of human health and services, and seemed like a great choice. He was long known as a great advocate for universal health care. Universal health care! Yes we can! Yes we can! As he stood behind the microphone, answering questions during the vetting process, it seemed the only thing wrong with Tom Daschle was his choice of pink glasses. Who told him to wear pink glasses? Seriously? Pink glasses? Hey, though, this was going to be the man who is going to get us universal health care. Than something came up that wasn’t expected. A little problem called back taxes came up. It seemed there was something in his past. An evil monster called back taxes. Scary, I know.

So, than Daschle had to step down and Barack Obama felt like he was in the movie ‘Groundhog Day’. He just went through a similar episode with Timothy Geithner, who did get in as Secretary of the Treasury. Though, Geithner happened not to pay his back taxes. Than Barack Obama had a brilliant idea. If the Democrats weren’t paying their taxes, maybe the Republicans paid their taxes. Plus, appointing a Republican would go with his whole message of change. Lets bring the people together! Democrats and Republicans! Together at last in a bipartisan way! So, Barack Obama tried to appoint Republican senator Judd Gregg into his cabinet. Of course, Judd Gregg was on board for a little while until he saw that the cool kids in the Republican Party weren’t letting him eat at the lunch table of the congressional building. He got upset, because Rush Limbaugh’s mom always packs the best cookies and he shares it with his friends at the cool table, so he ended up turning down Obama’s offer to join.

So, there was obviously nothing left for Obama to do. He has had some successful appointments. Hillary Clinton was doing a great job as Security of State. Joe Biden was a good choice for the Vice President. See, these where some good appointees. Though, he might have to appoint some new people to do his vetting. Some of the people he has appointed to vet didn’t do a good job and don’t get how they glossed over some of the obvious problems some of the people vetting had. Obama got up from his desk, and picked up a small white box.

Obama went to his security of ‘chill’. He didn’t have to do too much vetting when he appointed this guy during college. Anything shady about this representative was found out years ago and no one seemed to care about it anymore. He told everyone that he stopped doing business with this representative, but it was one lie that wasn’t the end of the world. No, it wasn’t that shady real estate dealer in Chicago. He told the secret service to stand outside the back alley of the White House, because President Obama needed to have a meeting with Representative Joe Camel. Representative Camel didn’t require any vetting, just a match.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Great Movies: As American As Apple Pie

By Alec Horowitz

The 1999 film, “American Movie” by filmmaker Chris Smith is the ‘Spinal Tap’ of the independent film world. Unlike “Spinal Tap’, that 1984 mock documentary by Rob Reiner, “American Movie” is a real documentary and these are real people. The film opens with Mark Borchardt driving through a high way in Wisconsin, looking at street lamps and car dealerships, as he says in his narration “I keep thinking about the American dream…” What’s Mark’s American dream? To live out his life’s goal making successful horror movies. Of course, what follows from that humble set up for Mark’s story is a picture of no just someone with an American dream, but a picture of real Americans?

Mark Borchardt lives with his parents, writes local radio dreams, and is considered a screw-up by his brother, who dresses up in a Hooters t-shirt for his interview in the film. Borchardt goes to his uncle Bill, begging him to help him fund his short film, Coven. Borchardt hopes to use the sales for Coven, to finance his life long project, a script titled Northwestern. Uncle Bill lives in a trailer park and is retired. She speaks in a low tone matter and is the last person Borchardt has to turn to. His best friend is a stoner type named Mike Schank, who talks in monotone, has a small bread, a overweight man who sis on his bed with a guitar on his lap and says “Me and Mike used to party a lot, but we don’t party anymore”. Borchardt also has about eight kids with some girl he knew from the local bar scene. In one scene where all the children are lined up sitting on plastic chairs, the offcamera filmmaker askes them what was the last film daddy took them to see. One of his kids replys in a child’s voice “Apocalyse Now”.

The film is considered to be one of the greatest documentaries ever made. One of my favorite scenes is a quiet one that shows Mark’s desire to be truly a creative force but also shows what most creative people stuck in places without titles like New York or California do to try to work with what they got. He sits in his car looking out at the Wisconsin airport, writing on a pad, saying the quiet helps him be creative. My favorite scene though in the entire film is a testament to independent filmmaking. Borchardt tells one of his actors that the stunt will be safe. I guess you could guess how that went?

The film, though, does have something that Spinal Tap doesn’t really. At times, it can seem goofy, but it’s also ultimately touching. Uncle Bill leaves Borchdt money in his will to help him fund his feature film. I’m not sure if his film was ever finished, but as Uncle Bill says about death, considering the people who have surround ring him in his life, “Do they smoke and have cigarettes up in Haven? I don’t think so…I don’t think so”.

I find this film to be inspiring, though, for anyone who dreams. Brorchdt is everyone who ever dreamed, and is every kid with a camera, running around, dreaming of that ultiment goal of being a storyteller. What's more American than wanting to make a movie, askes Mark Brorchdt. Watching in the beginning Brochdt's bookshelf full of books on film, than he pulls out a piece of junk mail and says "Sweet! I've been approved for a credit card". I think to myself how symbolic that scene is. Dreams and approval of a credit card in the junk mail? What's more American than that?

Great Movies: God Is Luxury I Can't Afford

By Alec Horowitz

Woody Allen’s 1989 film “Crimes and Misdemeanors” is a film about our belief in God and why it doesn’t seem to stop us from committing sins. Judah (Martin Landau) is an example of a man who uses what society gives him to look like a moral man. He is a respected doctor and a pillar of the community. He makes a speech, everyone claps and comments on the donations he’s given to charities. He’s a respected figure, of which friends and family look to with the highest moral regard. Ironically, though, Martin does charitable things to make his image look good in the community. The things he does in private are the things that would really hurt and perhaps even those he destroys. When his mistress Dolores (Angjelica Huston) starts to send him letters, he becomes concerned for the first time in a while about his moral image that isn’t shown to the community. Martin tells a Rabbi that his wife, Miriam “won’t forgive him” because she idealizes him. A tragic story starts to unroll about how Judah starts to dig him self deeper and deeper into sinful behavior and the toll it has on him.

A memorable scene is when Judah is driving his car through a bridge. The camera zooms into the bridge, which quickly cuts to a Jewish temple inside Judah’s mind. Woody Allen also has another story taking place in this film, which I suppose would be the misdemeanor. Judah is the one guilty of the crime. He laces a light romantic comedy into the dark drama. Well, as close to a romantic comedy, and ‘light’ is all in relative terms when it comes to Woody Allen. Woody plays a filmmaker named Cliff whose marriage isn’t working out, and his desire to enter a relationship with another one (Mia Fallow) who works for Cliff’s brother and law, Lester (Alan Alda). Lester is the idealization of every Woody Allen finds evil about show business, a multi millionaire who Cliff has to make a documentary about in order to play some bills. Lester has made millions from his light weight sitcoms.

The two stories about two people who really have nothing do to with each other is also used in the other classic Allen picture, ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’, a film that many including critic Roger Ebert wanted to be the first picture nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. “Crimes and Misdemeanors” is special though, and might be the greatest screenplay ever penned in my opinion. I have always felt Woody Allen was the greatest screenwriter of the 20th century, and to quote Ebert, “the poet of New York City”.

There are so many memorable scenes in this dark drama/comedy. A rabbi goes blind, perhaps due to his own faith. Judah confronts his mistress in the rain, at a Shell gas station. Judah’s brother offers to have his mistress taken out. Things go wrong, and they go wrong. They don’t really go right. This isn’t that kind of film. This is such a complex film. It’s so many facets, like a good novel. The thing with Woody Allen films is often the smaller scene he has in his films. In one scene, Cliff goes to visit his sister, who is a widow. After Cliff takes her daughter out for the day, when sitting alone with Cliff, she confuses she went out on a date with a man who defecated on her. Cliff is repulsed, and shows shock, but we see the moral good in Cliff. The scene shows Cliff cares about something, and so does his work documenting a holocaust savior.

Perhaps this film can be best summed up by the most famous line said by Lester as sits on a bench in a park in New York. He looks at the camera, and smugly explains why he is so successful at making people laugh. “Comedy is tragedy plus time”. That explains an important element of this film, though the line that has stayed with me the longest is when Judah is talking to the rabbi and rabbi asks him about his morals and a higher power. Judah looks at him as it starts to rain outside. This is Woody Allen's morality play, where he dares to ask the question of if morality is really rewarded or is immorality the one who is rewarded? We have two men. One more moral than the other and two different stories.The wealthy New York City doctor says, “God is a luxury I can’t afford”.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Great Movies : Flying Into Adolescence

By Alec Horowitz

Some films never leave. You might of left the movie theater or had that VHS collecting dust, but they stay with you. They stay in your heart, and soul. Some movies don’t need to have a political or very personal message that stays with you. Sometimes it’s just a story that does. One of those movies for me is ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’, the 1989 picture by Japan’s master animator, Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki makes cute films you can’t use the word cute to describe because cute wouldn’t do justice to them. Every time Kiki’s Delivery Service comes on the TV set, I stop what I am doing and sit down and prepare to join a little girl and her cat (voiced by comic legend Phil Hartman in the English dub) as they fly in the sky in the opening scenes away through the clouds. Every time I watch it, I can’t help but smile, and as then smile some more. I feel a lot of affection for Kiki through watching the film, because Kiki is more realistic a kid then most kids in American animation.

‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ is a film where flying is a metaphor. We are all like Kiki, flying into different stages of our lives. Kiki flying to a place where she needs to feel accepted. She is flying into her adolescence years. “Without even thinking about it” says Kiki, “I used to be able to fly. Now I’m trying to look inside myself and find out how I did it”. There was a time we where all able to fly. We just felt right with the world and let our joys just fly. Isn’t it ironic, you can find yourself asking while watching the film, that when Kiki is finally let to go fly as she take her broom and head into the sky, that she will face her biggest problems. Did I mention that Kiki is thirteen years old? Flying on a bloom for Kiki is the fantasy version of a parent letting their tween stay out longer at night and eat at the local pizza shop.

Kiki is a skinny girl wearing a big red bow on her head and a skirt that blows up a bit too much. Her cat Jiji sitting nervously on the broom next to her like some nervous adult next to their teenager daughter in the car. The broom itself is a testament to the warmth and reliability of Miyazaki’s script based on the novel by Eiko Kadono, a Japanese author of children’s books. Miyazaki has gone to darker places in films like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. What is so special about Kiki’s Delivery Service is the pure warmth it gives off. She drives her broom like a teenage girl through the road, often not going straight where the clouds are telling her she is supposed to even seeing a older witch and asking her questions like a freshman to a senior in high school. Its little details like that let Miyazaki’s work rise above mere fantasy. She ends up in a town where she rents a room for exchange of work being a delivery witch for a local bakery, which proudly has a little wooden witch symbol in their window.

‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ is a film about finding where you belong. On a deeper level, it can be augured that it’s even more important for witches to find their belonging then even us mortals. After all, Kiki’s mother was a witch who married a human. In an early scene in the film, Kiki’s mother sits with an older women, who at first we can assume is Kiki’s mother’s mom but it is never said in any piece of dialogue. We have the suggestion that this woman is actually a mother figure. Not biological but a gentle person who helped Kiki’s mother when she was a young witch herself. “All young people want to do something different,” she says. The older women starts to talk about how she remembers when Kiki’s mother showed up as a young girl on a broom, a confused young witch. Kiki runs exactly to the window where her mortal dad is preparing a camping trip and she proclaims she is leaving tonight because it’s a full moon. The full moon she refers to is truly meaning the dawn of adolescence.

Kiki’s parents aren’t portrayed as anything but loving in those opening scenes. Her friends not snotty, innocently asking her to say hi to the boys for them. The people she meets who hire her to deliver food don’t take advantage of her. It’s one of those rare films without a villain for the kids to jeer at. Instead everyone is warm, and wonderful. Every frame in a piece of art by Miyazaki, and this is on full display when Kiki has to put to the test of becoming a heroin as a bump starts to crash into the city and it’s up to Kiki to save the day. Flight is a very important element in this film. The flight serves as a metaphor in so many ways. A beautiful metaphor the film is for teenage years. Kiki’s love interest is a boy around her age, who wears glasses and looks like a pre Harry Potter, who is fascinated by Kiki, but not just because she’s a girl. He’s fascinated because he loves flight. Of course, her being a girl doesn’t hurt. Some of the most beautifully animated sequences in this picture are just this boy on his bike riding next to Kiki as she does a delivery. On the street, beautifully animated grass on the side.

What is it about Hayao Miyazaki? So many of his hero’s in his pictures are little girls. There are very few filmmakers who strike that balance between the innocence we love about the female gender and that willpower we want them to have. We love Kiki, because she’s a cute little girl. At the same time, we also want her to succeed and become strong as she enters her teenager years. We want her to save this boy who has a crush on her. We want him to be grateful to her. There’s such wonder in the beautifully animated world of Hayao Miyazki. There’s such pure joy and just pleasure in the colors and wonderful feelings one gets from spending time in his world. At the same time, there can also be said there is a feminist under text that lets us cheer on young female characters who act as the hero’s in his stories. Through his fantasy, there is so much said about love, acceptance and growing up.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

By Alec Horowitz

Three stars

‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ is a quirky little epic. ‘Benjamin Button’ is a soulful and wonderful film that suffers from an uneven script by ‘Forest Gump’ scribe Eric Roth. The story is set in a fantasy tone, based on 1921 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Brad Pitt gives one of his better performances as Benjamin Button, an abandoned child who has the misfortune of growing younger instead of older. He has the physical appearance of an old man who looks to be in his 80’s while in his childhood. Benjamin is a abandoned baby who is found by poor African American women named Queenie, in a performance by Tarija Henson, who should receive an Oscar nomination. I will see a more warm performance all year. Queenie is a wonderful character that decides to raise Benjamin Button like her own child. Even after she has a baby of her own, she continues making sure Button feels like a member of the family.

The story of Benjamin Button and his life is wonderfully done, if yet uneven in some parts. The best part of the story is the relationship Benjamin has with his adopted mother and father (Mahershalalhasbaz Ali). They are the most interesting and wonderful characters I have seen for a while. His relationship with Daisy (Kate Blanchett) is interesting as he grows younger and she grows older. The relationship has the feel of both a female nightmare and fantasy at the same time. The problem with this film isn’t the story of Benjamin Button’s life. The feel his life story has is wonderfully pure fantasy. The problem is the part of the film where a much older Daisy is on her deathbed and talking to her child. It’s a fine way to move the story along, but the undertones about Hurricane Katrina and the time they have leading up to that event feel a bit forced and unnecessary. ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ really didn’t need political undertones and it also made the time frame between 1918 New Orleans and 2005 New Orleans seem a little bit like a plot hole. The fantasy tone the film has besides this works better than the realistic political undertones. Roth should of stuck with the fantasy feel of the film in his script. Just because it worked with his ‘Forest Gump’ script doesn’t mean it works so greatly with this one.

Though, I must say putting the unevenness aside, that Benjamin Button does have an uplifting message about how you live your life matters more than time and age. I feel like this is a transition role for Brad Pitt, who should consider doing more films like this one, and even consider doing some movies that are in the fantasy genre. Though, I would also say be careful what roles he does pick. ‘Benjamin Button’ can be a wonderful film and has many good characters, yet sometimes the unevenness gets the best of it. Though the film does start to feel a bit strange watching someone get younger. Watching Benjamin Button try to get involved with a twelve year old looking Daisy, though he is the same age, does an evil look from the grandmother. Benjamin is quickly comforted by his adopted mother who says he is a man child and people wouldn’t understand. When he comes back from war looking younger, she assumes it’s God’s work. Also, introducing him to her natural child as her “brother” is another a small but wonderful and heartwarming scene. As I have said, Tarija Henson is Oscar worthy in this film and I doubt I will see a more warm and soulful performance this year. Really, the script is the only thing curious about this film. That is all.

The Story Of A One Trick Pony

By Alec Horowitz

Three and a half stars

Mickey Rourke turns in a pained performance as a man whose time has gone before him. One can imagine him being robbed of his once fame by a man with a name like Vince McMan. Taking his money away and building a multinational corporation on the backs of dysfunctional men who both view the show on a backwater cable channel and their dysfunctional boys who buy the action figures. ‘The Wrestler’ has a script by comedy writer Robert Siegel, who has seemed to decide to put away his copies of the Onion for something a bit more interesting. Though the script sometimes has some problems with flow, the characters it portrays are at least honest.

‘The Wrestler’ is really Micky Rourke’s movie. His performance is iconic, and is going to be iconic for years to come. While Marisa Tomei turns in a strong performance, the movie is really Rourke’s. We get a lot of shots of just Rourke’s back to the camera walking through the local supermarket he works at or at coming towards the wrestling ring. The film is at times a indictment of America’s anything goes culture, as expressed in one potent scene where Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson is sitting behind a table, signing autographs at a small gathering of wrestling fans, and The Ram looks down and sees the paralyzed legs of the men singing pictures of themselves from their glory days. Sometimes entertainment does all boil down to just some people who have been messed up by an industry, signing fancy lettering onto their headshots.

Some of the script doesn’t work. Some of it at times can feel forced, and at other times, the script can be weak in spots. This is one of those films where the single character trumps everything else around him. ‘The Wrestler’ is a character study. Marisa Tomei isn’t to be underrated either, and she isn’t as she turns in a performance as a washed up stripper (expect for her great body, which seems a little too good to be a washed up stripper in New Jersey), she turns in a good performance as a stripper who seems to connect with The Ram’s emotional damage. The sub plot includes the fractured relationship with his daughter (Rachael Evan Wood), as he obsesses over the missed chance he had with her. One of the most potent scenes in the film, and the most defining line of the whole script is “I just don’t want you to hate me”, which in a way explains the bigger psychological draw of wrestling. It’s easier for us to watch people wrestle on an actual stage in a violent matter. ‘The Wrestler’, for all its unfocused problems, remains us that the pain off the court is more often more painful than the pain we inflict on it.

Nicholas Cage was originally cast as The Ram, and thank God he dropped out. This movie could have been just a clichéd mess that lacked the independent feel it needed to work. Mickey Rourke’s pain is the star of this film, and this is a career defining performance. While the film doesn’t seem to know how to end itself, it is almost redeemed by a cut to a black screen and the first few notes of the wonderful tune by Bruce Springsteen. Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei both got Oscar nods, but the academy should of not passed up a chance to nominate a song that really does define this film for ‘Best Original Song’. At the end of this film, you could like or dislike the film, but you might like Mickey Rourke’s performance better than even the film. His performance is bigger than this film. His performance is largely than this film. Rourke is a broken down man who has been on the rocks for a few years and watching this film, you aren’t watching a character. You are watching him.

Milk is a Triumph

By Alec Horowitz

Four Stars

As if Gus Van Sant didn’t have an impressive enough resume. His credits include ‘Good Will Hunting’, ‘Even Cowgirls Get The Blues’ and ‘Drugstore Cowboy’. Though, the one thing one would never pin down Gus Van Saint is that of a political director. He has made mostly quirky character studies. Not that he hasn’t made films that take on issues, like the underrated ‘Elephant’, his 2003 film about the lead up to a school shooting. What can I say about his direction of Milk? Maybe that he pulled it off. He seemed to be able to make ‘Milk’ and a small film in 2007 called ‘Paranoid Park.’ I do not know how he managed to do both of these films. ‘Milk’, with all of the documentary footage added with the many scenes he shot must have taken more than one year to shoot. There’s no way he shot this film in one year, or at least I wouldn’t think.

‘Milk’ works as both a political thriller and a biography picture. Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, best known as a writer on the HBO drama ‘Big Love’, wrote one forceful script and has easily secured a spot for best original screenplay during this year’s Oscar season, as has Gus Van Sant for best director. Sean Penn, though, has achieved more than just an Oscar nod. He has secured his place as one of the best actors of this generation. He is in almost ever scene of ‘Milk.’ From the moment we meet Harvey Milk, a man sitting there with a tape recorder to the final moments of his life, Sean Penn brings a powerhouse performance to every scene. Harvey Milk is a man who basically rose from nowhere to become the national voice for gay rights and the openly first gay man elected to office.

Though, when making a film about a figure that is fighting for a cause, there’s always a chance the film will feel forced. ‘Milk’ doesn’t feel forced. Maybe that’s because Van Saint didn’t try to normalize the gay culture as to the way people think is normal, but instead honestly shows it for what it is. Also, it should be noted that his portrayal of the gay culture goes along with Van Sant’s stylized style of filmmaking. It’s also his stylized style of filmmaking that doesn’t allow Milk to feel like a standard bio picture. Milk has the feel and look of an art house film, judging by scenes like a telephone call made by Cleve Jones (Emile Hersh) in which the screen becomes a colorful array of other people he is calling. Though, he adds touches to fight serotypes against gays. He does this mainly through the relationship between Harvey Milk and Cleve Jones. While people who confuse homosexuality with pedophilia would think that Harvey Milk would come onto Cleve Jones, just because they are both gay, he never does. Instead he acts more like a father figure to him, treating activism like the family business.

Josh Brolin has become an interesting actor, playing Milk’s opponent and sometimes-strange friend, Dan White. Milk plays up Dan White as not a villain but a human being who snaps. The scene where he comes in drunk and saying he has issues too is a scene where you feel sorry for Milk’s rival, as does Milk. He plays Dan White with a mix of likability and villianous, though for those who do not know the story of Harvey Milk, one doesn’t quite see what’s coming with Dan White. Gus Vaint Sant was the right director for this film. This was his biggest production. Sean Penn has secured his place among classic performances.

This film is a remainder of why the movies are important. Harvey Milk was a man who seemed to use the words ‘hope’ and ‘change’ a lot. Remend you of anyone? Even Barack Obama can’t get away with saying gays should have equal rights. For all the progress we have made in this country, we still have a long way to go. From the opening credits with just still photographs and footage of the early days of the gay rights moment to an affecting moment where Harvey gets a phone call from a boy who says he’s going to kill himself, because his parents want him fixed.

The homosexual cinema has been an important part of the independent film world for years. Milk is a triumph for the homosexual cinema. Released by Focus Features, one of the leaders in the independent film world, Milk is a remainder as well of why independent films matter. Harvey Milk must have been a wonderful man. This is a movie all should see. Gus Van Sant has crafted his masterpiece. Gus Van Sant has given us his ‘Malcolm X’.