Gus Van Sant's acclaimed, Oscar-winning Milk is now available on standard DVD and Blu-Rayfrom Universal Studios Home Entertainment. While the film's strengths shine through in Hi-Def, so do the film's scant — but not non-existent — weaknesses.
Chief among the deficits that become even more glaring in one's living room is the portrayal of Harvey Milk's high-strung lover, Jack Lira. While Diego Luna gives an at-times charming performance, the way Lira is presented ventures perilously close to caricature.
Among three deleted scenes included as a bonus on the Milk DVD is one (wisely cut) that shows Jack flying into yet another jealous rage. It shouldn't have been included in the bonuses either, as it reveals nothing aside from Luna's bare legs (which, it should be noted, are not unattractive).
The two other deleted scenes are more welcome. One that shouldn't have been cut from the final film is a late-night conversation between Harvey (the incomparable Sean Penn) and his lover, Scott Smith (a nice turn by James Franco). In it, Harvey reveals a recurring dream he's had wherein he is stalked by an unknown threat. He tells Scott, "I'm not going to make it to 50." This dialogue is referenced later in the film, but only now do viewers grasp the full significance of it.
The disc also features three documentaries, one about Harvey's life and impact and two about the making of the film and its re-creation of historical events and figures. These are all worth seeing and heighten one's appreciation of the filmmakers' efforts all the more.
Should you buy Milk on DVD or Blu-Ray? Absolutely! While this earnest docudrama hasn't had quite the cultural impact of, say, Brokeback Mountain, it is still an GLBT classic-in-the-making.
Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.