Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Milk, it does a body good

Chelsea managed to grab 2 tickets, or well, let’s call it what it is…she allowed me to be her +1 to a screening. So far I’ve ridden Chelsea’s coattails to see “The Visitor”, an amazing movie about illegal immigration and finding oneself in another’s plight. I highly recommend that movie, beautifully done on all accounts.

She also brought me to see Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman in their newest movie “Last Chance Harry”. That movie was…not as great as I would have liked it, but the Q&A after it was the best part of the experience and well worth sitting through the movie for. I’ll post clips of it here once Variety.com decides to edit it and post it all. Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman said some amazing and insightful things about life, love and living life and love. I didn’t have a notebook with me and was too busy snapping 100+ photos of their facial expressions to write any quotes down.

But what I really wanted to write about was the latest movie she brought me to see, “Milk”. This movie is about the political life, and as the screenwriter described it, about a movement surrounding the man that was Harvey Milk. Harvey Milk was a politician and political activist in the late 1970s. Look him up on Wikipedia if you don’t know who he is or what he’s about.

I was anxious throughout this movie. It could have been that the opening shots reveal that Harvey Milk was murdered, shot in cold blood. It could have been the subject matter, gay and lesbian rights that made me uneasy. But I think more than anything, it made me uneasy that this movie didn’t feel like a period piece the way it was intended. It scared me how much of today’s world, today’s hate, bigotry and misunderstanding was paralleled in what was supposed to be the past.


This movie took place 30 years ago. Thirty years ago a proposition was defeated in California that would have proclaimed that any homosexuals (as determined by who?) would be banned from the public school system of the state. If you even so much as supported any gay cause, it would be grounds for termination.

The protests were a little too familiar; the chants drove home.

Why is it that 30 years ago we were learning the tools for success that were not implemented this time around with Proposition 8?

I hate to be drawing the parallel, so many more people will because it’s SO blatantly obvious. Thank goodness these filmmakers chose to remind us of the past, so we can learn and grow from its example.

This movie might not sit well with everyone. I know that, these filmmakers know that.

Another thing. Chelsea and I discuss it quite often. We’re completely different people living in different worlds, more or less. She’s a black lesbian, and I’m a white straight girl. I don’t know what it’s like to be a lesbian. I won’t know. She won’t know what it’s like to be a straight female. She can pretend, but neither of us really understands the battles we each need to fight. I started to understand, through this movie, that I would never fully understand what it’s like to be a gay man either.

Milk’s relationships in this movie seem shallow, at first. Some grow in depth as time and energy are spent with them. But the ways in which Milk meets and nurtures the relationships with his companions is very different from how I approach relationships in my life. I don’t think that picking up a guy in the subway is a great way to choose a life partner, but I also have to look at the medium. It’s a movie. Let’s make it simple. The end.

Ok…that’s movies. I totally am a TV kid though. Love ya movies, but sometimes you take me deeper than I want to go. I didn’t mind this particular movie taking me so deep though. I think that’s a sign of a great movie, when I can still escape while at the same time bringing some substance into my existence.

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