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Milk

Year: 2008
Studio: Focus Features
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Duncan Lance Black
Cast: Sean Penn, James Franco, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna, Dennis O'Hare

Like Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood, I found Sean Penn's performance - while good - a little too showy. While it maybe be completely in character with the way the real Harvey Milk spoke and moved, a little about Penn's portrayal of the civil rights leader was a little too gay, like the way little kids lips and flap their wrist limply to imitate the crudest impersonation of homosexuality.

I can imagine many would find it offensively flamboyant today, when most of us realise sometimes you simply can't tell straight from gay.

None of that detracts from this worthy biopic about the life and times of America's first openly gay public office holder. After moving to San Francisco seemingly on a whim following a new boyfriend (Franco), Harvey opens a photographic shop that becomes ground zero for the gay rights movement in the US.

After several failed attempts to be elected to the city council, he sweeps into position despite death threats and a political enemy in buttoned down suburbanite Dan White (Brolin).

If you know the history of the true case you know what happened to Milk and San Francisco mayor the day White's bitterness snapped, but it doesn't make it any less compelling. Like in Finding Forrester or Good Will Hunting, van Sant keeps the edgy side of his directorial talent out of it and just lets the story tell itself.

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