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Archive for December 1st, 2008

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by Sam Juliano

Gus Van Sant’s new film Milk, is less a film biography of a life cut short by violence than it is a story of a “movement”, that continues to grow today despite some bizarre recent setbacks.  The passage of Proposition 8 in California, which bans gay marriages, has that ‘temporary’ ring, but it’s a wake-up call to those who feel that the mission will be free of obstacles.     

Van Sant’s career has been mainly experimental and art-house, but he went mainstream a few times with films like Good Will Hunting and Finding Forrester, the former of which was a reasonably decent film that attracted solid reviews and award attention.  His best films have been the ones where his artistry has broached metaphysical and metaphorical contexts in films like Elephant, Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho and earlier this year with Paranoid Park.  He is most interesting as a ‘visual’ filmmaker, and together with deft cinematographer Harris Savides, who is again on board for Milk, Van Sant has crafted some of the most visceral and provocative images in modern American cinema, often at the expense of linear narratives.  Milk is neither mainstream nor art house, but a most successful mix of the two.  The story of the gay man who becomes the first of his kind to win public office must be told with some rudimentary adherence to the facts and chronological order, but Van Sant uses flashbacks, flash-forwards and an effective ‘linking device’ to imbue his singular and invigorating directorial style on the proceedings.  The result is ‘compromised’ Van Sant for cinematic purists, but a fluid and insightful look at a turbulent time and one of it’s altogether fascinating central proponents.      (more…)

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