Milk

Alternate Title: Politics as Usual
2008 Nominee

Sean Penn plays gay activist Harvey Milk, a man whose voice spoke for countless others. After meeting Scott (James Franco, seen here as a non-douche and a non-stoner, so don’t let that deter you), Harvey and his new beau pick up and head to San Francisco.

San Francisco in the 70s was just getting its reputation for hosting proud members of the gay community. While it was their haven, it was certainly not safe. Legal and moral objections were raised against them at every turn and as a result, Harvey took to the political scene. He became the first openly gay man to hold political office in the country.

A workaholic with a message that affected many, Harvey was plagued by death threats and ghosts of lost lovers; in fact, several of his partners committed suicide – something Harvey believed was partially his fault, due to his fear of coming out of the closet.

While I agree with the message Harvey and his followers preached and believe that politicians out to destroy civil rights are really just demonizing democracy, I still don’t like politics. The outcome of Harvey Milk’s time as a supervisor was heartbreaking and ultimately, I don’t love stories that have unhappy endings.

However, he’s a person I didn’t know a thing about until I watched this film and that’s a genuine shame. Political activists – especially those fighting on behalf of human rights – really ought to be recognized more readily. With the fucking laugh-riot our country is slowly becoming, it’s easy to see why now, people like Harvey Milk deserve a megaphone and a place behind the podium.

It’s nice to say we’re born with unalienable rights, but we are not born with them.
We fight for them. And the fight is definitely not over yet.

Now it’s Your Turn…
Milk was nominated for Best Picture in 2008, but did the Academy get it right?

The Theory of Everything

Alternate Title: The Stephen Hawking Movie
2014 Nominee

Stephen Hawking AKA the guy from the Harry Potter movies that aren’t Harry Potter movies (Eddie Redmayne) falls in love with Jane AKA the lady from the newest Star Wars movies (Felicity Jones). Gather, nerds. We must unite!
By the end of the film, you still won’t understand anything about black holes or space or the fabric of the universe because the movie is more about relationships with people than with time or space. People are the matter that truly matters.

There is some science jargon. There’s even some medical jargon related to Hawking’s diagnosis of Motor Neuron Disease, which is Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Remember when everyone in the universe was dumping ice water on themselves? They were fighting this disease, one frigid-ass shower at a time.
The whole film touches on the dynamics of love and – briefly – addresses the principle of time in relation to love. There’s just enough science to make you feel smart, but still not smart enough to read A Brief History of Time and have the faintest idea what it all means.

There isn’t a lot of Hollywood drama clouding the reality of the situation. In fact, there isn’t a lot of Hollywood dialogue either, but that’s partially because Hawking’s disease made it progressively more difficult for him to speak (until they made him an American robot voice, of course).
What I appreciate the most is that the film demonstrates how two people can still love each other with change. Love even develops for other people, but none of the characters end up demonized. There isn’t a lot of black and white when it comes to love or time (just black holes). Instead, the film delves into how relationships expand just as the universe expands and that love, like time, can be infinite if you simply allow it to exist for what it is at any given moment.

The Theory of Everything left me a little dizzy. Not only does it feel like a tremendous lot  of information to take in, but there are literal circles in the whole thing. The way scenes are shot, circular objects, and the notion of time itself all encompass an idea of circular motion and the cycle of life.
Sit somewhere comfortable for this one.

Now it’s Your Turn…
The Theory of Everything was nominated for Best Picture in 2014, but did the Academy get it right?