Sunday, February 22, 2009

Muriels: Best Picture, 12th Place

Milk (90 points/11 votes)

"Released in the wake of Proposition 8, it's hard to separate Milk from the context in which it was released, but someday, when the injustice of Prop 8 is long gone, the film should still be remembered as a high point in Van Sant's always interesting but severely flawed body of work. The experimental nature of much of Van Sant's work has always left me torn. While I love his aesthetic adventurousness, I've found his formal experimentation in films like Elephant and Last Days to be self indulgent and ineffective.

Milk is a straightforward story and, thankfully, Van Sant presents it that way with the confidence of a very mature filmmaker. The film hits all the milestones in his life and it does so at a brisk pace with the aid of stylistic flourishes that seem to be informed by Van Sant's experimental tendencies. Expertly weaving together still images, archival footage, and a wide variety of film stocks, the film is bursting at the seams with the joyous rhythms and textures befitting any film about a movement based on love. The flawless filmmaking is further enhanced by a terrific ensemble performance. Sean Penn is fantastic as Harvey Milk and Josh Brolin, James Franco, and Emile Hirsch all do more than enough to pull their weight.

“Instead of a sentimental, preachy biopic, Van Sant has given us a powerful film that celebrates the hard work and passion of people who fight for what they believe in. Easily the best film of the year, it's a spectacular work of art that should inspire people and offer a beacon of hope for anybody who cares about something." ~ Benjamin Lim

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