Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Revisiting the Mayor of Castro Street

Last night Michael and I had the sincere privilege of attending a screening at the Directors Guild of America of "The Times of Harvey Milk," the 1984 Oscar-winning film by Rob Epstein and Richard Schmiechen about the nation's first openly gay elected official. What a devastatingly brilliant piece of work -- hands down the best documentary I've ever seen. Although I thought I was keenly aware of Milk's place in history and the heinous circumstances surrounding his and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone's assassinations (and their killer Dan White's famed "Twinkie defense"), it wasn't until I was able to see Milk's charms in action (words alone do not do him justice) and hear firsthand accounts from people with whom he worked and whose lives he touched that it really hit me that Harvey Milk truly was the Martin Lurther King Jr. -- or perhaps even more so the Robert F. Kennedy -- of the gay rights movement. For all of the accolades he has gotten -- schools named after him, a bust in the rotunda in San Francisco's City Hall -- what a shame that he is not known as such. Forget about "The Women" and "Desert Hearts," I'd say "The Times of Harvey Milk" should replace all camp classics as the Number 1 required viewing for all young gay men and lesbians. (And many of us old farts too!)
As the director Rob Epstein, above, told The New York Blade, "If you don’t know from where you came, you don’t really have a clear sense of how you got there and where you’re going." I blog about a lot of things I enjoy, but if you haven't seen this film then I strongly urge you to so. The event was made even more delightful when Epstein did a Q&A afterward, during which he said that he could not think of a more capable man than Gus Van Sant to bring Milk's story to the multiplexes.

A huge thank-you to Patrick Harrison, the New York program director for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, for his work in bringing last night's event together.

For fun I dug up this clip of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert reviewing the film back in the day. As was often the case, I completely agreed with Siskel and thought Ebert needed to pull his head out:


Jerry said...

I totally agree--I've probably seen the movie ten times and it still moves me. I would recommend that you check out the DVD with all the extras--it's got a great director commentary and lots of follow-up material.

Danny in WeHo said...

I just watched the Milk Documentary for the first time a few montrhs ago and it is still quite moving, disturbing and disappointingly relevant. I can't wait to see Sean Penn's take. I hope he does us proud.

WHAT??? Two thumbs down for SUPERGIRL??? Hello? Hart Bochner!!!

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