Milk was a transplanted New Yorker who, at the age of 40, traded in his job as a Wall Street analyst for a gig working as a stage manager on the first Broadway production of Hair , and later moved to San Francisco where he and his partner opened a camera shop in the Castro district-then the flash point of the gay-rights movement in America. Though Milk had relationships with men in New York, he had shielded his personal life from his family and co-workers. But living in San Francisco, surrounded by people who were often much younger than he was-many of whom with stories much like his own-he very easily fell into the role of advocate, lobbying on behalf of the gay community both freely and loudly. When Milk assumed his seat on the board of supervisors, it seemed a logical, even inevitable, next step in the sexual revolution of the decade. For the year-old Van Sant, Milk was a project nearly two decades in the making-one that went through multiple scripts and iterations. Writer Armistead Maupin, who, of course, lived through the Milk years in San Francisco, having so memorably captured them in his Tales of the City novels, recently spoke to the director who was at home in Portland, Oregon.
Freedom Fighter in Life Becomes Potent Symbol in Death
Un-quaring San Francisco in Milk and Test
What might look like melodramatic posturing instead became a poignant epitaph. Lauded by critics and laden with awards, Milk ought to be that avenging ricochet from Harvey's skull, shooting down prejudice and dishonesty. But it isn't. Far from "destroying every closet door", it instead builds a brand new bullet proof one around its subject's sex life. Van Sant's film is, in fact, living a lie. Harvey Milk was a famously horny man in 70s San Francisco, who combined political campaigning with cruising for men half his age. In Milk, he's presented as a serially-monogamous chap on a quest for The One.
The mood of the moment, which ends up with the two men eating birthday cake in bed, is casual and sexy, and its flirtatious playfulness is somewhat disarming, given our expectation of a serious and important movie grounded in historical events. Notwithstanding the modesty of his office and the tragic foreshortening of his tenure, Milk, among the first openly gay elected officials in the country, had a profound impact on national politics, and his rich afterlife in American culture has affirmed his status as pioneer and martyr. This is not faint praise, by the way, even though has been a middling year for Hollywood.
James Franco continues his media domination as of late donning the cover of this month's GQ and before that appearing on "Jimmy Kimmel Live. Penn plays the first openly gay elected politician, Harvey Milk, while Franco assumes the role of love interest, Scott Smith. Not only do the two kiss, but they also have a couple of nude scenes together in which each is wearing a prosthetic penis. Say what?!