“My name is Harvey Milk and I want to recruit you!”
This disarming introduction became the trademark of the man who would become the first out gay man to hold major elective office in the United States. With this greeting, Milk let his audience know that he understood their fears of homosexuality and could not only make a little gentle fun of them but could make fun of himself, too. He did want to recruit his audiences, not to being gay but to fighting for justice.
As the movie begins, Milk (Oscar-winner Sean Penn) is about to turn 40 and feels that he has never done anything important. So he and his boyfriend Scott Smith (James Franco) move to San Francisco, open a camera store, and begin to get involved in the community and to become active in opposing a system that perpetuated bigotry and abuse of the gay community. After running unsuccessfully, he makes an important change in his approach — instead of running against something, he starts to run for something, to talk about hope. He becomes a respected leader. He forges some unexpected alliances — with the Teamsters and with people who want pooper-scooper laws. He is elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. But he has enemies. There are threats. And finally, he is killed, along with the city’s mayor, by one of his former colleagues, Dan White (Josh Brolin).
This film has some of the elements of the traditional biopic, but Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black spares us the shorthand formative childhood experiences and minimizes the internal struggles. From the first moment we see Milk, picking up a stranger coming out of the subway on the eve of his 40th birthday we see a man who is already completely comfortable with who he is, a man of great sweetness and humor (both as in good humor and as in wit).
Every performance is impeccable, especially Penn, Franco, and Brolin. But what makes the movie so vibrant is the exquisitely evoked setting, not just the meticulously re-created Castro neighborhood of the 1970’s but the era, the moment, when so much seemed against what they were trying to achieve (the archival footage shows a casual homophobia that is a powerful reminder of how far we have come, even in an era of state initiatives to ban gay marriage. The sweetness and thrill of a heady new sense of possibilities in the pre-AIDS era is almost unbearably poignant. It is a tragic story but it is also a story of hope. It was hope, after all, that Milk learned to bring to his community. That community grew to include the entire city, and now, thanks to this film, to all of us.
Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is in the transport business. If he accepts the job he guarantees delivery with three rules: once the deal is made, no details may be changed, no names provided by either side for deniability, and a promise that he will not open the package.
Rules are made to be broken, of course. And it is one of the unbroken rules of Transporter movies is that seeing how Frank keeps and does not keep those three rules is part of the fun. The other unbroken rules: there will be a DoD (damsel in distress) who will be both lovely and smitten. Frank will have to take on many bad guys at once but they will not gang up on him at the same too much time or try to shoot him so he can show off his acrobatic hand-to-hand, kick-to-face combat skills, and Frank will do some truly amazing things with his car. These rules are inviolate but some other guys’ rules will be broken: those principles from people like Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. Who cares about the laws of physics when there’s a chance for some really cool and stylish acrobatics? That’s what athlete-turned actors and special effects are for!
The third in the series is a return to the form of the first Transporter with no pretense of the sentimentality of the second, which involved a child and his mother. Frank and his car are stripped down to essentials here. There’s no delay while his friend the French cop (the reliable FranÃ§ois BerlÃ©and) has to pretend he is a suspect because they are fishing together when the mayhem begins. Next thing we know, Frank has been forced to accept a new delivery job. His car has been emptied of all of its special gadgets (except for the revolving license plates) and he has been fitted with a wrist cuff that will blow him to bits if he gets too far from the automobile. There’s one just like it on the arm of the DoD, a freckled red-head with an accent and an attitude.
Americans and polluters seem to be the villains du jour (see also “Quantum of Solace”). Nothing much there, but there are some lovely fight scenes courtesy of martial arts choreographer Corey Yuen, who also worked on the first two films. But by the time Frank has to find a way to rescue not just himself but his car after they drive off the side of a bridge into the water (being shot at by lots of bad guys) and somehow gets the trunk of the car to open underwater while taking a couple of hits of oxygen off of the tire and at the same time creating a sort of parachute apparatus to get them both back up to the surface not to mention being able to drive it as soon as they get on land — the series seems to be in need of a few hits of oxygen, too.
This week Disney is releasing a glorious new edition of its most most gorgeous, splendid, and fully realized of all of its animation classics, the high point of painstakingly hand-painted animation, before the use of photocopiers and computers. Every detail is brilliantly executed, from the intricate clocks in Gepetto’s workshop to the foam on the waves as Monstro thrashes the water. It also has one of Disney’s finest scores, featuring “When You Wish Upon a Star,” which has become the Disney theme song. “I’ve Got No Strings,” “Give a Little Whistle,” and “An Actor’s Life for Me” are also memorable.
“Pinocchio” is a natural for the first discussions with kids about telling the truth (especially admitting a mistake) and not talking to strangers. Talk to them, too, about how to find their own conscience and listen to it as if it were Jiminy Cricket. The trip to Pleasure Island may also lead to a discussion of why things that feel like fun may be harmful, and the difference between fun and happiness.