Tuesday, March 21st, 2023

“Milk”: It does a body good…



Directed by Gus Van Sant
Written by Dustin Lance Black

Premiered October 28, 2008
Focus Features Productions


Review by Aristide Laurent

December 7, 2008.

I saw Milk today. I left the theater sobbing (well, more like sniffling…I’m much too macho to sob openly).

It was like I was transported back 30 years in time, and I was young and active and life was good again—and fun, fun, fun—thanks to the burgeoning sexual liberation!!!

Over half of the audience in the Vista Theater were either not born then or very small children during that decade of revolution. I would like to have asked them what the movie was like to them, people who had not lived through the severe prejudice, brutality, and struggles of the 1970s—the bar raids, the beatings, the murders.

Those of us who lived through The Castro Era bear a special affinity with what was unfolding on the screen. I would guess that it would be a totally personal experience to each of us according to how active and/or involved each of us was during that historical period of resistance. Not everyone lived in Buena Vista Park or Jaguar books as “some” of us did … wink! wink!

I hope my tenants go see it and let me know what the movie felt like or meant to them as free agents in a world entirely different from the world many of us knew in the 1970s. They, like so many other younger gays, have had their first experience with activism with the passage of Prop 8. So let me say: Welcome to “our” world, guys. I am happy to know that a new generation of gays and straights are not willing to settle for second class citizenry. Thank you. Obviously the struggle is not over.

I cannot “rate” or review the movie as a film because I was too much a part of it to be critically objective.

Scotty (played by Franco) was, in the lingo of the ’70s, “TO DIE FOR”!!! His nude swimming scene—Ohhhh daddy…

Aristide LaurentTwo things to complain about (aha! You knew it—there he goes!!) … 1) the guy who played David Goodstein was entirely too butch. Goodstein was a piss-elegant pig (just my opinion, of course); and 2) the movie needed more Sylvester to set the mood of what was a really fun time in spite of all the prejudice and fear which we had to constantly be aware of every minute of the day.

For such a heavy movie, there should have been more comic or musical relief (again, my opinion). It was pretty much a downer from start to finish. But a good downer.

Sean Penn and Josh Brolin were absolutely perfect in their roles!! The art of a really good actor is that the viewer sees only the character they are playing and not the famous star who is portraying them.

That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking with it. I welcome rebuttals.

©2008, 2016 by The Tangent Group. All rights reserved.


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1 Comment

  1. Paul in Jax

    I am sure I will have water running out of my eyes when I go see it too, especially since I had met Harvey twice…but here in “Cowford” (the original name for Jacksonville, FL) we don’t get it until Dec 12 or thereabout. I vividly remember where I was the day the shootings took place. I had just got into my car on Gower and the radio came on with the bulletin of the tragedy. I was shaking so badly I couldn’t drive for a time. Yes, dark days but as you said they still were FUN, FUN, FUN. Thank heaven for “I Will Survive”…

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