All About samusarmada
So it seems it is possible to get your moderation reversed after all. Last week or so my image signature was removed because it was deemed to be 'offensive'. The signature in question...:
Needless to say I was not impressed so what followed was a rather thorough post to the moderation board explaining the situation which you can read here, and after a few days of no response and one gentle bump I finally discovered in my inbox today that wonderful message:
So there you go, after 23 moderations I've finally been able to get one overturned. Not to say that I deserve to have the others overturned as well, but it's just nice to be the good guy for once
"My name is Harvey milk and I am here to recruit you!" While almost the tagline of the film itself this is thankfully the message Milk steers clearest from. By sticking firmly to the roots of the biopic it titles (that of Harvey Milk, and his rise to become the first openly gay man to be elected into office and the anti-gay laws that are threatening America at the time) than the piece of propaganda it so easily could have become the film allows itself to gently work its way into the viewer. So that even the most ardent of sceptic can't help but feel as enamoured as he is embittered by the film's conclusion.
As a character piece Milk would be nothing without its principle star and just like Mickey Rourke embraced the Ram and Frank Langella sunk into Nixon, Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk with an identical kind of synchronisation. The role may have been harder to pull off than the others but Penn still manages a perfect nuance. All the mannerisms and traits are present but it is the warmth and energy that exudes from Penn that is most wonderful. Rarely has a film about so much oppression felt so optimistic and even rarer still is it to witness a performance so full of life, when faced with odds so determined to eradicate it.
This charm and boldness is complemented (but by no means watered down) by some fantastic supporting roles. The three most central supporters; James Franco, Diego Luna and Emile Hirsch's characters all bring a wonderfully different set of behaviours to the political operation, aptly and deftly showing the pressures, enthusiasm and heart braking troubles that such a dedicated agenda can bring. Alison Pill's character, the lesbian activist brought in to help organisation, is just as well placed but her separation from the others is due to her being the focal part of Milk's most enduring moment. On her arrival to a slightly sagging political operation she is greeted by a stream of discomfort from all those at work, to which she quickly jumps on, asking wryly "are you all afraid of girls?" Wonderfully enough, you can tell pretty much immediately that answer to this question is actually yes.
But with this joviality comes the malice from which it stormed, and in this respect where Milk was brash and open in its heroes, it's dark and subtle with its villains. Most films use real footage sporadically and gracelessly. With Milk however, the transition between the two is so seamless and natural that it's hard to think of a film that does it better. No where else is this more evident than in its use of Anita Bryant, the angelic, picket fences spokeswoman, whose hate-hidden behind-crucifix attitude is only shown through her real life television appearances. Creating a permanent image of reality when faced with the almost unbelievable arguments put forward by such persons. The star of this however remains Josh Brolin's seething portrayal of Dan White, the official up against Harvey Milk for the latter half of the film. It actually took me a second viewing to appreciate Brolin's performance; so understated is his portrayal that it's easy to miss it when played opposite Penn's bravado. But it's so well perfected (literally every delivery has a little falter of discomfort, a slight bite of resentment) that it can't help but feel like the perfect support role to Penn.
As biopics go Milk is a somewhat flawed reality. While Penn's performance is exquisite it remains a glorifying portrayal of a man notable for his polygamy and stubbornness. But as a film it oddly transcends that singular vision of just the story of 'one man'. Milk is a movement piece, displaying a rare warmth not just for those cast but to those who are suffering from the same kind of alienation milk exhibits, but never overplays. As said before it is remarkable how Milk never seems to fall into the caption of being a piece of propaganda. It has that honesty, that sense of good will to celebrate a man's accomplishments for the simple need of celebration. But that is not what I found most remarkable about Milk. What I found most remarkable was how I had never managed to hear Harvey Milk's name until now. How, when Martin Luther King's name is used so frequently in American civil rights is it that this man's name is never even uttered in the same breath? We all need symbols of hope, and when one is as exuberant and joyful as this one; you can't help but feel recruited.
It is ironic that in the same year Jack Nicholson was faulted for merely playing himself as the 1989 Joker, Mickey Rourke shows just how effective this relationship can be. Rourke plays out his life in 115 minutes as Randy 'The Ram' Robinson; a former icon now reduced to school hall signings and amateur fight nights. "You never really stopped acting" an interviewer once said to Mickey Rourke, "yeah but I acted in a lot of crap" Rourke tactfully replied.
It is in his performance that Rourke gives the film its real resonance but it is in that which is represented that provides the film with its strangest interest. In refusing to belittle the sport (or stage) of wrestling director Darren Aronofsky has created something of an eye-opener. The films' opening backstage scenes reveal the workings of these fights as pseudo-improvised acting and presents the wrestlers themselves as respectful-if rather odd fusions of actors, bodybuilders and athletes. On the more extreme end The Wrestler showcases the more dangerous side of 'Hardcore' wrestling, which includes (in this case the very real use) of staple guns, barbed wire and planks of wood. More importantly, the films shows the long term self destruction of its stars. Rourke's character is battered and worn out; his heart collapsing under the years of steroid abuse necessary for his physique, his finances nonexistent and his family no longer apparent. Alone except for the stripper he visits almost every night Randy seeks redemption with his estranged daughter and wishes to form something more with the stripper he visits.
These are familiar themes for any sports drama but rarely are they handled with such an unnatural sense of realism. The direction is almost documentary-esque and the soundtrack never seeps into anything more than ambience. But it is again the performances that give the film its added weight. The 45 year old Marisa Tomei plays stripper Cassidy with the same kind of realisation as Rourke plays 'The Ram'. Too old to be doing what she does her life runs parallel to Randy's in the same way that her playing a stripper at 45 (no matter how good she looks) mirrors her character. Evan Rachel Wood as the forgotten daughter may or may not have been abandoned when she was younger but her startling transformation in the equally self destructive Thirteen at least gives her some experience in the unhinged daughter role.
Against the weight of all other films The Wrestler presents something far crueller. For all the fame, for all the glory Randy has lost everything to that which he loves and there are some pains that just can't be healed and there are some realities we don't want to face. "The only place I get hurt is out there" he plainly tells Cassidy at the start of the films heart breaking climax. There is humour along the way, but it's bittersweet as it always carries the further realisation of how out of touch Randy is with the world. The scenes where he is trying to find a present for his daughter or when he plays a videogame with one of his neighbours are brilliantly portrayed but they build up: fusing with the moments of him just trying to get by, or when he's at autograph signings-the camera lingering on the canes and wheelchairs of his associates. It results in a film that combines self loathing, obsession, narcissism and redemption to create a character that could not be played by anyone better, by anyone else. And as the final shot fades to black you couldn't ask for a better ending; leaving you to ponder for a few weighted moments over the only conclusion that can be drawn, just long enough to hear Bruce Springsteen quietly count the film into the credits, and sum up Rourke's character in one mournful line: "If you've ever seen a one trick pony then you've seen me."
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