by Ryland Walker Knight and Jennifer Stewart and Mark Haslam
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RWK here. Yes, due to all kinds of life and extra-blogular writing, posting has been light over here on VINYL IS HEAVY. The main culprit, though, is a lack of reliable internet and, like, zero interest in cafés post-work. So stay tuned. There should be a flurry of hot new shit soon; mostly (still!) about Arnaud Desplechin. (In case you didn't know already: I'm freaking out about A Christmas Tale. That's the realness, peoples.)
But today we saw Milk. We saw Milk at the Castro Theatre in the Castro at Castro and Market in San Francisco. All kinds of heightened levels of signification and significance and emotions. Also, it was overcast. It's finally getting cold around this town. And it feels great. Add to all that: it was a packed house and we sat in the third row. Now if only Milk were a little better. I really want to like this prim thing (and I do, for the most part) but it's kinda-sorta inconsistent—and, yes, it would be nothing if it weren't for Sean Penn's sure-to-win lead performance. Everybody's said it, as if it matters, so why not add to this choir of obvious hype: they should bow-tie the Oscar and engrave that shit yesterday. He's great—he really is!—and his joyful posture, even in a frown, is truly something to behold. I want people to see this movie, especially in our current season, precisely because it was designed for everyone. Gus Van Sant set out to make the movie that the most people would find purchase with—and he did just that—without a lot of his recent formal/aesthetic flourishes; although, to be fair, it's not like we're talking Ray or Walk The Line here. But I'm tired, and it's late, so I'm just going to direct you towards some of the sterling words that have already been written in favor of this film's simple virtues. As Steve Brule would say, "For your milk, dummy!"
- Nathan Lee's piece for Film Comment is my favorite.
- J. Hoberman is as witty as ever, and typically (wonderfully) dense.
- Glenn Kenny is as funny as ever as well as spot-on.
- Chris Wisniewski has a lot of love to give, and I really dig this generosity.
- Next day update: Ed Gonzalez has what may be the best "review", complete with 3-star ranking.
Finally, here's some songs you should buy.