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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb film, well-deserved Oscar, buy the DVD?
The only negative things that I would say about "Milk" are that neither sound nor vision leave you feeling that the DVD would not have been enough; although hearing "Queen Bitch" in HD audio quality was much appreciated! That aside we are dealing with a fantastic acting performance from Sean Penn, who seems to have studied the documentaries and found a way to be a Harvey...
Published on 7 July 2009 by Mr. Blu

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Milk DVD
I think the film is ok and being a gay woman I was interested in the politics of this film especially with it being made from true events. But although the politics made it a film worth watching it is set as an older film and long and boring. I have kept the film though as its a bit of history in the challenges gay people did and sometimes still do face.
Published 9 months ago by Ms. J. A. Tebenham


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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb film, well-deserved Oscar, buy the DVD?, 7 July 2009
This review is from: Milk [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
The only negative things that I would say about "Milk" are that neither sound nor vision leave you feeling that the DVD would not have been enough; although hearing "Queen Bitch" in HD audio quality was much appreciated! That aside we are dealing with a fantastic acting performance from Sean Penn, who seems to have studied the documentaries and found a way to be a Harvey Milk that is true to the real-life man without being a mere impersonation. Van Sant is a great director and he has everything on a tight leash here. The tempo of the film, the dialogue and the cinematographic construction of scenes show a master's touch. Penn is also surrounded by good performances, not least from Brolin as his eventual nemesis. In many ways the film is short on drama, since we know historically what he will achieve, and the film's opening makes it clear how it will end. But it is the sign of a good film when this doesn't matter, and it never matters here.

During the credits there is a nice montage sequence of footage showing the characters followed by their real-life originals. The film is by turns funny, witty, touching and powerful. I recommend it very strongly, but unless you are a Blu-Ray nut (and maybe even then) the DVD might be the wiser choice.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ignorance is bliss, 17 April 2009
By 
2cleverbyhalf (somewhere in the future) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Milk [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I really didn't know much about the real story of Mr Milk.. which meant I was really, really shocked by the ending (I imagined he'd been murdered by some lone nutcase).

But I was even more shocked by how much I enjoyed Milk. It's great fun, Penn does a fantastic job (for once an Oscar worth giving) and manages to get across a charming fella with a few flaws but a lust for life that you can imagine was highly infectious to those around him.

In fact, it's a pretty flawless film all round. Which, given that it's about the life and times of an American gay politician 30 years ago.. is all the more astounding. Great film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This Milk is not for turning, 5 Oct 2014
By 
All of them Witches (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Milk [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
An interesting biopic charting the last few years of Harvey Milk's life, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in America. Van Sant has paid an enormous attention to detail with the whole San Francisco 1970's setting. Excerpts of original television footage are interspersed and fit into the film seamlessly; it all looks very authentic.
Penn and Brolin are both excellent, all the performances are great and whilst I can understand some people feeling underwhelmed at the pacing of the film and the focus on Milk's personal life, it all seemed important as a whole to flesh out the narrative of events and highlight Milk's personality and what drove him.
It's quite shocking to watch the series of events in this film, how such bigotry was enshrined in legislation, and one cant help but ponder on the parallels today around the world and how little has actually changed in some respects. It is given away at the start how the story of Milk ends and I found it interesting a remark Milk made during the film as to the question mark over his eventual killers 'real status' reminiscent of events in 'American Beauty'
Harvey Milk must have been a very charasmatic individual, certainly a persistent and brave man. A good story that should be better known
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genuine, passionate homage to the story of a great man., 20 May 2009
This review is from: Milk [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
If you haven't seen this movie, you should watch it. When you have, you'll simply know it's worth buying the dvd.

I'll try not to repeat things already said by the other reviewers...

I just wanted to say that this movie tells the true story of a man who really changed things for one of the most historically discriminated kind of human beings (probably only second to women)...
And it does tell this story truthfully and respectfully. I imagine Gus Van Sant and the script writer must have known Milk's story very well, and after watching the documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk" I suspect that might've been one of the major sources for transcribing original speeches actually told by Harvey Milk when he was alive.
Anyway the film transpires passion. I truly believe all the actors, the writer, the director put their heart into doing this. You can feel it.

I cried twice throughout the movie the first time I saw it.
I think it changed me in some way. Made me feel like it's my own responsibility to stand up and speak up for my own rights. Made me feel like it's not just a common place but a truth that things can change if you try hard and don't give up at the first difficulties.

However this movie is not only beautiful for the power of its message: it is solidly and elegantly directed, the photography is very good, the actors are great (Sean Penn here deserved at least a Nobel Prize and Emile Hirsh is superb, but all the cast is absolutely convincing).
There is not a weak scene in the whole movie, it flows smoothly, it's perfectly balanced. It goes from triumphant to intimate, from whisper to screaming crowd. It has some really memorable shots as well. To cut it short, it has everything you ask from a masterpiece.

Please watch it, you'll love it, I guarantee.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Milk, 13 Mar 2010
By 
SilentSinger (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Milk [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
Apart from the Oscar buzz surrounding this film I wasn't really aware of the life and career of Harvey Milk prior to watching this film. It's an incredibly well-made biopic by indie director Gus Van Sant and Sean Penn's central performance certainly was worthy of the Oscar he won. The thing which really stood out for me was the way in which Van Sant made the film look as though it was actually taken from the 1970s as it had a convincing grainy quality and faded colour worthy of the decade.

As well as charting Milk's rise to power and his eventual assassination it also questions the nature of prejudice in the US. It's a film which will make you think deeply about a whole range of issues. A great film, brilliantly acted by all of the cast members and well worth a watch.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am here to recruit you!, 5 Feb 2009
By 
Ford Ka (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Milk [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
"My name is Harvey Milk and I am here to recruit you!"
This is simply a must-have movie - great director doing his best (notably better than his last), a bunch of great actors doing their best (Sean Penn hasn't done is so well for quite a while, James Franco is simply sweet), superb camera-work (parts of the movie look like original 70s footage), and screenplay based on a great true story which makes the best of it - can you ask for more?
The film concentrates on the final years of Harvey Milk's life - the chronology is a little twisted (we know that Milk's going to die from the beginning and the events are commented by Milk himself who makes a memoir-like tape-recording in the final days before his death) but Van Sant probably couldn't help giving it this little twist. We first meet Milk when he picks up a new boyfriend in New York on his 40th birthday, and he concludes that he has not done anything he would be proud of. The couple decides to move to San Francisco when they open a shop with photo equipment in the Castro which gradually changes into a gay district it is today. Yet successful as he is as a buisnessman, Milk yearns for more. He repeatedly runs for the city council and succeeds at the third time, trying another local election in the meantime. The costs of his campaigns are high - his boyfriend leaves him, a new one proves to be mentally unstable. Milk reaches his goal, he becomes the first openly gay person elected to a high office in the USA. As a politician he is quite successful, the movie concentrates on a campaign he orchestrates successfully defeats proposed law banning teaching posts to homosexuals. Yet in the process he offends (unintentionally and the man is quite clearly presented as having serious issues) one of his colleagues who ends up shooting both the Mayor of San Francisco and Milk himself. Milk dies but what he started lives on so the movie ends on a hopeful note.
Have I recruited you already? Go and get the CD. You won't regret it for a moment! I can smell some Academy Awards here!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "If a bullet should enter my brain..., 23 April 2009
By 
LittleMoon (loving my life in the rain) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Milk [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
...let that bullet destroy every closet door."

[Spoiler in this paragraph.]Harvey Milk recorded this on tape as he became subject to more and more death threats; it becomes part of the voiceover at the end of Gus Van Sant's (of the quietly brilliant Good Will Hunting) biopic. Milk documents the true story of Harvey Milk's short, late-starter life in politics, beginning with his move into Castro Street, and ending with his (and Mayor Moscone's) murder.

Castro Street is the perfect bohemian backdrop for what becomes the rise of a man who has an increasingly old-fashioned sense of something being "right" that he is willing to fight for at any cost. Milk unites the gay community into various actions, and after several failed attempts finally becomes the first openly gay elected official in California. It seems such a small thing, but the movie shows the enormity of its significance in 1970s America, when being gay was enough to find you evicted from your apartment, or sacked from your job.

Penn is superb as Milk, a role one thinks it would have been so easy to overcook: initially reluctant, then driven, and always, likeably, a conduit for organised chaos and action. If someone had to wrestle the Oscar from Mickey Rourke's epic comeback, then I'm glad it was Penn. James Franco is delicious as the first of Milk's hard-done-by-lovers who finally gets tired of playing second fiddle to politics, and leaves. There are also wild-hairstyled, flamboyant performances from the likes of Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild), and Diego Luna (I've never seen this guy before, but he was great). With Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men) putting in a calmly eerie performance as Dan White.

The movie itself is perfectly paced, and it's impossible not to be drawn into its passion, as Milk becomes ever more involved in the ups and downs of campaigning, and gay rights come under more and more pressure. The colourful and volatile Castro Street community, ramshackle and dispossessed, seem to cling to Milk, and force him to be their leader. A choice he struggles with, and for which he will pay the ultimate price. Nevertheless, it's a role he seems made for. From the moment he steps up to the podium and says: "Hello, I'm Harvey Milk, and I'm here to recruit you.", you just know that something crazy, something historic is going to happen. There's an undercurrent of tension and excitement in this story that never lets up, and at the end I was left feeling stunned.

Most of all though, I love this movie because it introduced me to a man of courage and conviction, Harvey Milk, a man I'd never heard of before, and now will never forget.

Milk is one of those rare movies that it's actually worth having on DVD. Buy it, watch it, and tell your friends.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant, 28 July 2010
By 
Mr. Pj Williams (cardiff uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Milk [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
a masterful portrayal of the characters by all actors involved. and engaging plot and you get to learn something about a little known piece of American history ( I am welsh so it was to me) and its current issues with the subject. loved it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Milk, 6 April 2009
By 
C. MacLellan (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Milk [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
On 8 November 2008, Barack Obama was elected the first African-American President of the United States of America, in a landmark historical moment. On the same day, Proposition 8 appeared on the California ballot, which would enforce a ban on same sex couples right to marry and the rights which come with it. Proposition 8 passed. Eighteen days later, Milk, the biopic of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the US, hit cinema screens. Swings and roundabouts eh?

In 1972, newly out New Yorker Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) moves to San Francisco with his much younger lover Scott Smith (James Franco), hoping to find greater acceptance of their lifestyle. They open Castro Camera in the heart of Eureka Valley, a working class neighbourhood which was evolving into a predominately gay locality. When he encounters prejudice in the supposedly liberal San Francisco, he starts to make forays into politics, although it is 1977 before he is finally elected to public office, with his cause gaining national significance. It's whilst serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors that he meets Dan White (Josh Brolin) - Milk's eventual executioner.

Jamie Fox as Ray Charles, Forrest Whittaker as Idi Amin, Helen Mirren as `The Queen' and Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf. All have won the best actor or best actresses Oscars in recent years, and all have been for portrayals of real people. Sean Penn looks set to continue this trend. Penn completely immerses himself into the character of Harvey Milk. However, he never tries to depict him as a hero or a messiah. He simply portrays him as an ordinary man, who yearns for a better world, and achieves his aims through unwavering strength and pragmatism. From the stock footage of Milk shown at the end of the film, it's also clear that Penn as Milk's mannerisms down to a tee.

Penn is backed up by a strong supporting cast as well. James Franco breaks out of his brooding Harry Osborne typecasting as Scott Smith, Milk's much younger lover. Franco's character brings the audience away from the world of politics and into Milk's private life, where we learn how a career in public life affected Milk's private relations. Emile Hirsch's Cleve Jones is the embodiment of the hope that Milk's vision gave to countless numbers of people. Josh Brolin's Dan White is a bit of an enigma. His character really should be been fleshed out further, as the film doesn't really spend enough time with him to understand the motivations behind his final murderous actions.

Gus Van Sant recreates the warmth and exuberance of `The Castro' beautifully, with great attention to period detail, even managing to gain access to the original buildings. He also makes good use of stock footage of Milk's nemesis, Anita Bryant, the leader of the Save Our Children campaign. The aim of her campaign was to remove all gay teachers from their post, as many saw them as paedophiles, or `recruiters' for the gay cause. Using the real footage of Bryant, and other anti-gay rights campaigners, reminds the audience of how recently these events occurred in US history, and Van Sant slots them into the film perfectly.

There are some holes in Dustin Lance Black's screenplay though. The first and third acts of the film - his arrival in `The Castro' and his career in politics - end up squeezing out the second act. This gives the illusion that his eventual election was a simple matter of perseverance, rather than years upon years of work with the local community. It would have been beneficial if some of these areas had been filled, rather than just glossed over.

The Verdict
My name's Craig MacLellan and I've been recruited
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5.0 out of 5 stars "My name is Harvey Milk, and I am here to recruit you", 16 Jan 2010
This review is from: Milk [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I am a straight male in my early 30s, and I confess that I didn't know who Harvey Milk was before watching this film. I am into a wide variety of film genres (as my review history reflects), and picked this movie up not knowing what to expect, but went for it on the strength of the (deserved) critical praise is has received. In short, it is one of the best films I have seen in a long time.

Sean Penn gives a deservedly acclaimed performance as Milk, a charismatic, entertaining individual. The supporting cast - none of whom I personally was familiar with - also put in excellent performances.

Without meaning to brush over the important work and advancements Milk made on behalf of the LGBT community, this is a story that appeals far beyond the gay community, and a classic story about standing up for the downtrodden.

The film runs at two hours; in some movies, I find this a bit long and my attention starts to wander, but in the case of 'Milk' I found it the perfect length; it needs the full two hours to tell the story, and I can honestly say I did not feel it to sag at any point.

It's hard to accurately class this film - for its most part, it is a drama-biography, but it also has some nice moments of comedy, and is also very touching at points.

There is little I can find to gripe about with this movie. I did find that Harvey met the two big loves of the story (first the charming Scott, later the demanding Jack) and fell in love with (and was in bed with) barely after meeting them; I did wonder if this was tweaked to suit that pacing of the film.
Some have commented that they felt the film concentrates on Harvey's love life too much, neglecting further detailing of his political career. I personally did not feel this at all - I found both elements to be well balanced, and think it was important to give an overview of Milk's whole life, not just political, to get a more rounded view of him.

Regarding the DVD release, extras are three deleted (and pretty inconsequential) deleted scenes, a 15 minute documentary looking profiling Harvey Milk, a 13 minute making of featurette, and a third looking at the recreation of the candlelight vigil (but which also strays into other areas). There are also international and UK versions of the film's trailer. Ordinarily I like to see an audio commentary on DVD releases, but maybe it was felt this film didn't need one.

All-in-all, this is a really enjoyable movie. You don't have to have gay interests to become engrossed in it, and I am glad that it is bringing the tale of Harvey Milk to a new generation, including myself. And at under a fiver, you can't go wrong. Highly recommended.

(I have just ordered 1984 Academy Award-winning documentary 'The Times of Harvey Milk', which fans of 'Milk' might like to check out to get more background of Harvey).
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Milk [DVD] [2008]
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