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Films >> Milk (2008) >>

1) Milk is a celebratory portrait of a pioneering gay activist. (Peter Bradshaw)

2) My concept is different. I think a legislator should be involved in the root causes of the problems that plague us. He should be involved with enacting legislation to correct these problems, thus doing away with the need for “troubleshooters.” (Jason Edward Black 131)

3) My name is Harvey Milk-and I want to recruit you. (Milk qtd in Black 217)

4) Nobody took into account the tremendous impact that would be made by the fact that films are permanent and easily accessible from childhood onward. As the sheer number of films piles up, their influence will increase, until we have a civilization entirely molded by cinematic values and behavior patterns. (Kenneth Tynan 66)

5) The gays started demanding their piece of the crumb-by demanding their piece of the pie. And the other minorities see this as a potential immediate threat. But once they get over that fact, then they start to cooperate. (Milk qtd in The Harvey Milk Interviews by Harvey Milk 203)

6) I cannot prevent some people from feeling angry and frustrated and mad, but I hope they will take that frustration and that madness and instead of demonstrating or anything of that type, I would hope they would take the power and I would hope that five, ten, one hundred, a thousand would rise. I would like to see every gay doctor come out, every gay lawyer, every gay architect come out, stand up and let that world know. That would do more to end prejudice overnight than anybody would imagine. I urge them to do that, urge them to come out. Only that way will we start to achieve our rights. (Milk qtd in Randy Shilts 276-77)

7) Gay brothers and sisters, what are you going to do about it? You must come out. Come out to your parents, your relatives. I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your friends, if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors, to your co-workers, to the people who work where you eat and shop. Come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions for your sake, for their sake, for the sake of the youngsters who are being terrified by the votes from Dade to Eugene. (Milk qtd in Black 219)

8) Of all of Harvey’s many concerns none mattered more to him than ensuring homosexuals protection from discrimination by landlords, employers or the city itself; he had proposed a gay civil rights ordinance as his first order of business after being sworn in. (Mike Weiss 141-42)

9) What happened to all the polite homosexuals these politicians has seen every election year at courteous candidates’ nights and chic cocktail parties? (Randy Shilts 161)

10) To claim that anything goes in the name of artistic license is to invite fictional excesses that can grossly distort the public’s understanding. (Robert Toplin 225)

11) While the film is a political narrative in a grand historical sense, the murder of Milk is neither a political assassination nor an act of homophobic rage. Rather, it is an act of revenge for perceived wrongs and public humiliation. . . . It seems as likely that Milk would have been murdered were he heterosexual. So the film can't be the heroic tale of a political martyr it needs to be in order to hold us and take our breath away. It's a simpler story, about a man who fought an extraordinary political fight and who was killed, arbitrarily and unnecessarily. (Luke Davies)

12) And the gay movement is about the letter I got from Southwest Africa. When he read about a gay person getting elected here, and that person has hope. And that seventeen-year-old kid in Minnesota has hope. And when we have gay leaders, not understanding that, and more worried about their own personal power, they’re not gay leaders. They’re offensive. (Milk qtd in The Harvey Milk Interviews by Harvey Milk 175)

13) Anita Bryant, last year, blamed the drought we had in San Francisco on the gay people in California. And, honest to God -- this is true -- honest to God, the day I got elected it started to rain. (Milk qtd in Jason Edward Black 199)

14) If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door in the country. (Milk qtd in Shilts 372)

15) What was happening in the Castro was a phenomenon never before experienced by any city in the course of modern civilization -- an entire neighborhood was being resettled piecemeal by openly homosexual men and women. (Mike Weiss 42)

16) "Milk" tells Harvey Milk's story as one of a transformed life, a victory for individual freedom over state persecution, and a political and social cause. (Roger Ebert)

17) All gays want is what everybody else has. No more, but no less. We don’t want any favors, and we don’t want any more than anyone else is getting as far as protection under the law and our right to participate in all aspects of society. We just want equal protection. (Milk qtd in The Harvey Milk Interviews by Harvey Milk 302)

18) I think Harvey had this feeling that maybe Dan was closeted. It’s not really the position of us as filmmakers. It’s just something Harvey said, so we have him saying it in the film. I don’t know who believed Harvey. I think if you ask [Milk friend] Cleve Jones that question, he could just as easily say Harvey was imagining it. But whether or not the murder was based partly on homophobia is not something I particularly believe. (Reed Tucker)

19) I left his [Moscone's] office by one of the back doors an, and I started, I was going to go down the stairs and then I saw Harvey Milk's aide across the hall at the Supervisors an then it struck me about what Harvey had tried to do and I said, well I'll go talk to him. I said, you know, at least maybe he'll be honest with me, you know, because he didn't know I had, I had heard his conversation and he was all smiles and stuff and I went in and, like I say, I, I was still upset an ah. . . .then I said, I wanted to talk to him and just try to explain to him, you know, I, I didn't agree with him on a lot of things but I was always honest, you know, and here they were devious and then he started kind of smirking cause he knew, he knew that I wasn't going to be reappointed. And ah, . . . .it just didn't make any impression on him. I started to say you know how hard I worked for it and what it meant to me and my family and then my reputation as, as a hard worker, good honest person and he just kind of smirked at me as if to say, too bad an then an then I just got all flushed and hot and I shot him........I never really intended to hurt anybody. It's just this past several months, it got to the point I couldn't take it and I never wanted the job for ego or you know, perpetuate myself or anything like that. I was just trying to do a good job for the city. (Dan White qtd in Douglas Linder)

20) There are schmaltzy plot devices, like the gay Minnesotan teenager in a wheelchair who finds hope and ultimately liberation in Milk's public crusading, and who just happens to catch Milk on the telephone at two crucial moments. And, on a minor but troubling note, there are times when Penn's version of “gay” acting veers dangerously close to a twee version of his childlike (read: “mentally retarded” acting in “I Am Sam)". (Luke Davies)

21) Gus Van Sant’s celebratory portrait of pioneering gay activist Harvey Milk shows him earning his place in history, in 1977, by being elected to the San Francisco board of supervisors, the first openly gay man to hold public office in the US. (Peter Bradshaw)

22) Unlike in Brokeback Mountain, the gay couplings here aren't hallowed; every smooch doesn't carry the weight of the world. (David Edelstein)

23) As a study of a political moment, Milk is memorable. As a story of Milk's personal life, however, it leaves something to be desired. (Owen Gleiberman)

24) It’s just too pat to say Harvey was killed because he was gay. (Mike Weiss 468)

25) The quintessential 21st-century Gus Van Sant movie has been a boldly experimental death-trip. Elephant and Paranoid Park both fractured chronology, Gerry and Last Days distended duration, but all revolved around young protagonists whose mortality was never less than self-evident. Milk, too, has a doomed protagonist, but what's experimental here is Van Sant's faith in the old-fashioned vérités: Content trumps form as communal solidarity redeems individual sacrifice. (J. Hoberman)

26) “Milk” is accessible and instructive, an astute chronicle of big-city politics and the portrait of a warrior whose passion was equaled by his generosity and good humor.
(A.O. Scott)

27) If a gay man can win, it means that there is hope that the system can work for all minorities if we fight. We’ve given them hope. (Milk qtd in Randy Shilts 183)