at the movies

Milk opened here this week, which works well for me but surprised me as well. I was not surprised to see, the day after opening, that there were only about 20 of us in the theatre.  The film is excellent, the subject one with which there’s local sympathy.  But in some ways, it was easy to get that this was a foreign film:  I know how California government and SF government each work, structurally, but there’s no explanation here (why should there be?) so I an feel how it would be a bit opaque if I didn’t already know. 

Perhaps my sensitivity to that comes from only this week gaining an understanding of how Canada’s Senate is put together.

The intercutting of archived and theatrical film is graceful in Milk. One jarring moment was when Bob nudged me and asked if I recognized the face filling the screen as Linda Schacht, decades earlier. From that point, I was caught viewing three ways: with my own body of knowledge brought to the film, with the questions a Haligonian in the audience might have (what’s a supervisor? ), and how–like creatures with better eyes, more lenses–people who lived there then might see the winding together of record and memory.

That’s a curiosity (to me) of the big screen:  the movie is bigger than where I am, it sucks me right in and puts me wherever the story there is. But here’s a situation in which I have really been in its there but not at its then.  And watching movies in public is partly about the sharedness of that viewing as well, and here I was viewing with a couple dozen folks for whom it might have been exotic, rather than at the edge of lived experience.

All of this rumination might explain why I go to the big screen ones only a couple times a year.  Milk is definitely worth spending one of those times.


2 Responses to “at the movies”

  1. Marg Says:

    We went to a screening at the Castro on Opening Weekend over Thanksgiving. Though it is playing at several other theaters in the city, one simply has to experience it at the Castro. There were long lines all weekend stretching down Castro street and along 18th. While waiting for the movie to start, we were entertained by a slideshow running photos from the 70s. I can’t recall the figures but it was definitely a record breaker for their box office and managed to break into the top 10 that week even though it was playing in only 36 theaters nationwide. Brilliant performances from Sean Penn and Josh Brolin.

    The other obvious connection was the Prop 6 campaign and this year’s Prop 8. The same arguments about whether the campaign should have been about civil rights vs gay rights. Not a lot has changed in 30 years.

  2. carole Says:

    We, too, saw it at the Castro but at a 4pm Friday showing. Not much of a line, but the one there at 6:15 for the 7pm show was doubled around through the parking lot. For me, the Castro was important as I’d lived 2 blocks from it and a block from Harvey Milk’s camera store in the mid-70’s. I totally agree with it being a good movie with award-winning acting from Penn. Only thing I missed was all the women who were involved in the movement then.

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