Monday, December 22, 2008

At the Movies: Milk and Frost/Nixon

It's that time of year when the excellent movies are released and I go to the movies like it's my job. (Seriously, won't someone please pay me for this? Please!) This weekend, I caught 2 films which are locks to garner Best Actor Oscar nominations.

First up is Milk. Sean Penn stars as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to public office in America. It seems ridiculously obvious to say it, but Sean Penn is phenomenal. I found myself choking up every time he made a speech. I'm too young to remember the real Harvey Milk, as he was assassinated just weeks before I was born, but Penn seems to perfectly capture the man. Also great are Emile Hirsch as one of Milk's co-activists and Josh Brolin as Milk's adversary on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Director Gus Van Sant does a terrific job blending archival footage with new scenes to capture the 1970's and the gay rights movement. Milk is definitely one of the best movies of 2008.

Frost/Nixon is wonderful in it's own way, but it's not nearly as powerful or moving as Milk (and really, it's unfair to compare the two as the only thing they really have in common is their biographical nature...and the fact that I saw them both the same weekend, but, as people keep telling me for some reason, the universe does not revolve around me). Frost/Nixon tells the story of David Frost, English TV presenter, who garnered the first in depth interview with Richard Nixon after his resignation. I was a bit wary about F/N, as director Ron Howard can be hit (Parenthood) and miss (How the Grinch Stole Christmas). Here, he definitely gets it right, but F/N will be remembered mainly for the amazing performance by Frank Langella as Richard Nixon. Langella creates a man who's stubborn, arrogant, self-conscious, yet totally likable and pitiable. I left thinking Nixon wasn't such a bad guy after all. Maybe that's how my kids will view G.W. Bush (hahaha. Like I'll ever have kids).

I'd recommend both Milk and Frost/Nixon, but if you must choose between the two, go see Milk.

James Franco also stars as one of Milk's lovers. Thank you, Lord, for The Franco.


Garney said...

After the use of "garner" and "garnered" I was really hoping to come across "garnering" at some point in this post.

I'm definitely planning on catching Milk this weekend (opens at one theater here on Friday) and then either Frost/Nixon or Doubt (both opening here Christmas day).

Liz said...

hehe, Franco's mustache makes me laugh

danielle970 said...

Red, I want your life. (Said in a Varsity Blues-type accent.) Also, I will definitely be checking out Milk.

Falwless said...

Awesome reviews, as always, love.

I cannot wait to see Milk!

And is it just me or does that picture totally look like Ethan Hawke or what?

Dr Zibbs said...

I'd like to see Milk but I'll have to get my wife to see it with me. You know, so people don't think I'm gay and all.

Andra said...

Of course you will have kids. And they will all have red, curly hair, and for that, I am jealous!

pistols at dawn said...

I was debating which of these I should pretend I'm going to find the time to see, and now I know. Ever so helpful, miss.

Plus, don't be sad about kids - if you had them, you'd be seeing Beverly Hills Chihuahua for the 17th time this weekend instead and wondering how your life got so far away from enjoyable.