Sunday, November 30, 2008


On Black Friday I avoided the shopping hordes but sat in a packed house at the Castro Theatre for the Milk biopic. Even though I & my friends arrived more than half an hour before the show time, we ended up in the back of the balcony. Still, there is no better place to see this movie, right on the block where much of it occurs.

As a San Franciscan I found the movie factual & moving. It's hard not to get emotional seeing Dianne Feinstein's announcement of the assassinations or footage of the famous candlelight memorial march. Even so, I feel like the director kept a cool head & dramatized many sensitive events without sensationalizing them. Sean Penn does a fantastic job depicting Harvey Milk as a man who is determined, capable, happy & brave. Josh Brolin looks just like Dan White & is equally convincing in his portrayal of him as frustrated, repressed, jealous & yet still human.

I don't know if Milk was an opera fan himself, but Tosca plays a prominent role in the soundtrack & in the staging of Milk's death in the film. I was impressed to discover that this is not mere artistic license. SF Opera had a performance of Tosca the weekend before the killings.

A woman in the row in front of me brought her small white dog to the theater, & it sat on her lap for most of the show. After it was over, I wondered aloud if the dog liked the movie, & she assured me that her dog was an out & proud gay pooch.


Civic Center said...

Harvey Milk was an opera fan, with season tickets in the Balcony Circle. When I was doing standing room in the mid-1970s for "Peter Grimes" with Jon Vickers, he invited me and my boyfriend to join him in a couple of empty seats after the first act. And there's your trivia for the day.

Axel Feldheim said...

That's more than trivia! Thanks so much for sharing this. I guess I shouldn't be doubting the filmmakers.