Have to hit the road, so this'll be a short one. But I couldn't not comment on the damn-great flick just watched, Milk.
The life and rise of Harvey Milk, our country's first-ever gay man to hold an elected position in the United States government, specifically California in his case. Sean Penn's performance is tremendous, truthfully; totally becoming the man, to where he's hardly recognizable as the stone-faced, humorless actor/activist we expect to tremble in the presence of. Here, we feel warm around him, uplifted, even inspired. I know this all sounds like cliche praise, but it's all true, I tell you.
Damned if I didn't leave the theater feeling both invigorated, and, honestly, angered about shit like the recent Proposition 8. How any human can be denied basic rights and happiness is really beyond me, and in this film you see that our country really hasn't come far, at all. If anything, we've backtracked. Degenerated. Devolved.
As of now, Penn is my personal choice for Best Actor in next year's Oscars. If he doesn't get a nomination, there'll be hell to pay. Granted, I haven't seen Leo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, or Mickey Rourke yet (though, I'll be seeing the "resurrection of Mickey Rourke" this upcoming Tuesday morning...happy happy, joy joy). Til I do, though, it's Penn, all the way. Similar to the excitement I felt last year over Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood. It's funny, how seeing Penn in Milk feels like a revelation, in ways, despite the fact that the man has always proven himself to be a beast of an actor. But in projects like Mystic River, for instance, the last Penn job I really adored, he seemed to be playing an extension of the public persona I'd grown familiar with; here, though, it's like watching a whole new man. One who actually smiles, and laughs, and is undeniably pleasant. Go figure.
Also worth noting, the rising greatness of Josh Brolin, who plays a rival of Milk's, the man who eventually shoots him dead. Brolin nails the inner conflict, the tug-of-war that must've went on within Dan White, his "character's" name. He was, essentially, a decent man, but one who lost it all thanks to the indirect, benign actions of Milk, and who retaliates as an act of desperation.
Gus Van Sant, the director, scores yet again. I'll have to watch this one a couple more times before allowing it to usurp Elephant, which stands as my personal favorite Van Sant film, and one that never ceases to mesmerize, freeze, and disturb with each viewing.
Milk is a great movie, one I can't recommend enough. James Franco, who's having a hell of a year, does a complete yet equally great 180-degree turn from Pineapple Express here, feels like a secret weapon here---no easy feat, considering how much Penn bodies the festivities with his work.
Gotta make moves now. But yeah....Milk is top quality. I'm satisfied, motivated, and impressed, which, really, is all I could ever ask for, anyway.