Review: Milk (2008)

 

My name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you.”
Every year there is at least one biopic that seems to be on every person’s radar. Not that that’s a bad thing. This year’s biopic is Milk, directed by Gus Van Sant.

Milk tells the story of San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk. In the 1970s, Milk reinvented himself from a closeted New York City insurance salesman to become the country’s first openly gay politician and the face of the country’s gay rights movement. His life, his political career, and his untimely death have left an unequaled legacy on both gay rights and in American politics.

Harvey Milk is played by Academy Award winner Sean Penn, who once again shows the depth of his talent through this performance. Penn is compelling and never seems as though he is playing a stereotype, which is the greatest risk for an actor playing Milk.

Milk boasts an equally impressive supporting cast. James Franco, Emilie Hirsch, Alison Pill, Joseph Cross, and Diego Luna play Milk’s closest allies. Franco is a silent force as Scott Smith, Milk’s long-suffering partner. But Franco’s quiet yet resonate performance is outshined by Josh Brolin. Brolin’s portrayal of Milk’s fellow city supervisor and eventual assassin, Dan White, is mesmerizing and haunting. Surprisingly, White is a sympathetic villain; his descent into evil is treated fairly by the filmmakers, allowing audiences to draw their own opinions about White.

There is an eerie sensation about Milk. It is the story of a politician who becomes the voice for individual rights while spreading a message of hope and it is a story focused on a gay rights proposition in California. Two stories similar to this played out in the recent election, giving Milk an even more resounding message. In many ways, you are watching a film that is about today as much as it is about the 1970s.

Harvey Milk was a brilliant man and activist. He was funny and flamboyant; tragic and flawed; inspiring and passionate. This film is tells the story of rich and fascinating life by using any method of filmmaking possible to peel off the layers.

By the end of this film, you know Harvey Milk and that is Milk‘s greatest achievement.

Advertisements

Yet Another Presidential Biopic

Just a month after Oliver Stone announced that he was planning a George W. Bush biopic, Ridley Scott has announced that he is doing the same. Except this time around it is about my other favorite Republican, Ronald Reagan and his dealings with ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Ridley Scott ‘plans Reagan movie’ – from BBC News [source]

Sir Ridley Scott is to make a film about late US president Ronald Reagan’s
dealings with ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, according to reports.

The still untitled project will focus on the 1986 arms control summit
that took place in Reykjavik, Iceland.

“I want to show who they were and why they did what they did,” Sir
Ridley told the Hollywood Reporter.

No casting has been announced, though the film-maker is quoted as
saying that “physical resemblance is secondary”.

“It’s less about visible appearance, more about the acting,” he told
the US trade journal.

Representatives from Sir Ridley’s Scott Free production company have
visited Reykjavik and obtained permission to use the historic house where the
summit took place.

No agreement was reached at the summit, though enough was achieved to
bring about a nuclear disarmament treaty the following year.

“Their actions helped shape history, paving the way for the end of the
Cold War,” said Sir Ridley, who reportedly plans to release the film in 2009.

The director’s most recent film, crime epic American Gangster,
was released last year.

His next – Body of Lies, a thriller about a reporter on the trail
of an al-Qaeda leader – will be released this autumn.

Mr Reagan, who died in June 2004, and Mr Gorbachev were previously
played by actors Robert Beatty and Timothy West in the 1987 TV movie Breakthrough at Reykjavik.

Other actors who have portrayed the late US president on screen include
James Brolin, Richard Crenna and Rip Torn.

“You have to acknowledge the physicality,” said Scott. “Reagan was tall
and elegant while Gorbachev was stocky, like a front row rugby player.”

“In some ways, Gorbachev is easier to cast. Reagan is more colourful.”

———

Wow. I am so excited for this movie. I just can’t contain myself. Then again, I probably shouldn’t be this cynical. Afterall, I was only alive for four months of Reagan’s presidency and I did enjoy King’s Row. (At least I think I did. Is that the one where he has no legs?)

Review: Becoming Jane (2007)

Becoming Jane is one of those movies that I was guaranteed to love before it ever reached theaters. Not only Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors but Anne Hathaway, who stars in this Julian Jarrod directed bio-pic, is one of Hollywood’s few young actresses who doesn’t drive me up a wall.

 

Hathaway plays as Jane Austen before she was, well, Jane Austen.

The film follows the author’s early life as she struggles to find her place in English society. This Jane Austen would rather be upstairs writing than meeting possible suitors. That is until Tom Lefroy (James McAvoy), arrives and Jane must make a decision. Is she to be happy and married, despite its apparent limitations or is she to be a spinster but more importantly, a writer?

Becoming Jane marks an important moment in Anne Hathaway’s career. There has never been any doubt that Hathaway is a talented actress but her early work in The Princess Diaries and Ella Enchanted led her to be frequently typecast. Recent roles in Brokeback Mountain and The Devil Wears Prada showed her range and star potential. But Anne Hathaway’s lovely performance in Becoming Jane proves her ability to carry a film.

 

Unfortunately for Hathaway and the film’s many great supporting actors, most notably Julie Walters and Maggie Smith, the screenplay, written by Kevin Hood and Sarah Williams, could probably use a little help from Jane Austen herself. Often weak dialogue leads to moments when Jane does not come across as strong as an individual as she should.
Nevertheless, Becoming Jane stands 0ut from the other summer movies as one of the best. Anne Hathaway especially shines in this entertaining and engaging film.
Updated October 17, 2010

Katie Holmes To Play Posh Spice?

I know, I know. Many of you have been dying to know if Katie Holmes would go back to making movies after she became Tom Cruise’s whatever. Well lucky for you, she is. But only because Tom Cruise says she can.

Holmes to Play Victoria Beckham
By WENN Thursday, September 21, 2006 [SOURCE]


HOLLYWOOD – Katie Holmes is tipped to play celebrity pal Victoria Beckham in a new biopic of soccer superstar David Beckham.

Holmes and her fiancé Tom Cruise are close friends with the British pair, but while movie bosses were keen to cast the Batman Begins star, Cruise will not be playing Beckham because of their “marked physical differences.”

An insider says, “Tom has a brilliant grasp of what the public want to see and thought David’s story was wonderful.”

A football star emerges from humble origins, there’s drama within the matches and romance in his love affair with Victoria at the height of her pop-star fame. “

At the time Tom was seeing quite a lot of David and Victoria. The quartet are very close friends and the Beckhams would only be happy about their story being used if Tom and Katie were involved.”

I find this whole story comical but this has to be the funniest quote I have ever read:

“Cruise will not be playing Beckham because of their “marked physical differences.”

Whew! What a relief. I was actually worried about that while I was reading this. I kept thinking to myself, “If there is a God, Tom Cruise will realize his inability to play a footballer.” So instead, Katie is starring in a role she’s probably not meant for. But who am I to judge? This movie probably won’t even come out.

Review: Walk the Line (2005)

Walk the Line opens as the camera pans over Folsom Prison in California; there is a light thumping noise. As the camera winds down the prison corridors, past the empty cells, the thumping grows more intense. Finally we see where the camera is heading; a stage within the prison walls as a crowd of inmates clap their hands in anticipation. They are waiting for Johnny Cash to enter the room and begin a now legendary performance.

Walk the Line is the slightly romanticized biopic of singer Johnny Cash. Joaquin Phoenix delivers an intense and convincing portrayal of the Man in Black but it is Reese Witherspoon who shines as June Carter, Cash’s creative partner and eventual second wife. Their performances as the legendary country duo alone are enough reasons to see this film.

The picture follows the early life and career of Johnny Cash. Starting from his depressing childhood in rural Arkansas when his beloved older brother was killed to his humble beginnings as a recording artist and his life on the road. On the road, Cash meets and instantly falls for June Carter, a country singer who is more a personality than a voice. The movie then follows their relationship as Cash battles drug addictions and June’s refusal to marry Johnny.
Reese Witherspoon is the highlight of this picture that is drenched with excellent images and the music of Johnny and June Carter Cash. As in most of her performances, Witherspoon possesses her usual sass and charm and by dying her hair brown, she makes you forget about the Legally Blonde films. This is a role she was born to play.

Walk the Line shatters the biopic stereotypes. Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix deserve every accolade they have received this season. And the music is pretty damn good too.

Updated October 10, 2010