November 26th, 2008 5:33 pm | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP, Politics, CLEAN UP

Milking the Moment: Gus Van Sant's Movie is Striking a Nerve

Tags: gay

Looks like I'm not the only critic who thinks Gus Van Sant's Milk is both a minor-key masterpiece and a template for homosexuals to reestablish political clout. (See my review here.) In today's New York Times, A.O. Scott calls Milk "the best live-action mainstream American movie that I have seen this year," and David Edelstein's New York magazine review happily notes that "queer hagiography is bracingly different from that other kind, in that it's often, so to speak, ass-backward, the road to rebirth leading through the flesh instead of around it." Reviewers everywhere are just about equally gobsmacked, and reading them makes me wish I had more space to rave, especially about the unfettered gregariousness of Sean Penn's performance.

But the most intriguing article today is a Dennis Lim essay in Slate, which reiterates the concerns that the movie should have been released earlier and confirms my notion that, in the wake of Prop 8, Milk is going to be a rallying cry for LGBT activists:

Harvey might have wanted the film out earlier, but the opera queen in him, the natural-born showman who maintained that "politics is theater," would have appreciated the drama that now surrounds it. Just as his assassination, which he repeatedly foretold, has meant that Milk remains frozen in time as a martyr, the Proposition 8 result has, for now at least, redefined Milk as a cause.

Read the whole thing before you hit Fox Tower this weekend; it's concise, and doesn't give away any spoilers except for the bleeding obvious. Also, it hints parenthetically that a certain Portland director is going to be in the national spotlight in a big way come February:

(Milk is all but guaranteed a good night at the Oscars, given that many members of the Academy are likely to see a vote for Milk as a vote against Prop 8, not to mention a way to make up for giving the Oscar that was thought a lock for Brokeback Mountain, also a Focus release, to the odious Crash.)
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