Monday, October 15, 2007

The Times of Harvey Milk (Rob Epstein, 1984)

***½
USA

The Academy-Award-winner of its year, this documentary on the gay San Francisco councillor (whose assassin coined the Twinkie defence) is as much a portrait of the man himself as it is a loose essay on the gay rights frontier in the US in the late 1970s. The swarm of talking heads that take up the bulk of the screentime are notably lucid and paint a vivid picture of a time when homosexuality was a political statement and deep-seated ignorance bore a morbidly sunny exterior. If you were to take out the cheesy synth score and tone down a couple of the hairdos, you could still sell it as a contemporary summary of the gay rights struggle. What once may have served as an almost militant call to asserting your freedom, today plays like an eerie reminder of the sluggishness of progress.

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