Hilton Als review of Milk in the NYRB
was pretty interesting.
He calls our attention to the fact that the movie is not about one man finding personal freedom, though it could have been, if it had been about the first half of Harvey Milk's life. But is, instead, about one man devoting himself to a community.
Als also registers his discomfort with a few tired cliches, and falls into some himself (calling the film and Van Sant's aesthetic "cinematic" when he really means "visual"). And there's this interesting high school theme running through; Als mentions Van Sant's Elephant
and ends up at the Harvey Milk High School.
Als is particularly good when he describes the actors, though not particularly clear.
On Brolin, "a remarkably controlled film actor - he doesn't overact and give the camera more than it can handle; he keeps his facial muscles relatively still . . ." - that's a lot of punctuation!! "His ramrod-straight back growing tighter and tighter." Ouch!!
On Hirsh, "as Milk talks, Hirsch seems to resign himself to his attraction, letting his arms fall to his sides. In most of their scenes, Hirsch makes Penn resist the temptation to play cute by confronting him with a vulnerability that's greater than his own. Indirectly, Hirsch represents Van Sant's intuitive visual approach to filmmaking, while Penn sticks close to his need to please - a desire that mirrors Milk's own desire to charm, always." His whose? But he's right.
On Penn, "[he] mutes his voice in his private scenes with Brolin, like a particularly caring coach."
I was planning to read Sanford Schwartz on Peter Scheldahl too. Also in the NYRB.
Oh, and it seems like missed a lesbianostalgia
thing in TNY. Damn.