I don’t feel like writing anything now, but I’m now officially thumbs-up on Milk and Frost/Nixon. On a 1 to 10 scale, I’m giving them both an 8.5 — and that ain’t hay. Others are going to bestow 9 or 9.5 ratings, and that’s fine also.

Daylight tells you this was taken prior to this evening’s Milk premiere at the Castro. Photo by Randy Matthews.

I’ve been hearing iffy things about Milk for the last week or so, but I have to conclude that those who’ve been spreading the iffy stuff are by and large mean-spirited and, I feel, overly demanding. Milk cares, holds back, pushes through and gets it done. It’s compassionate, exacting, precisely ordered and emotional in most of the right ways. As for Frost/Nixon…well, I’ve seen the stage play and was ready for the worst, but I really don’t get what the London haters were on about.

I felt a genuine gayness from Sean Penn, who plays the title role of the late San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk, that I didn’t think he had in him. Emile Hirsch and James Franco give the stand-out supporting perfs.

I was down with Ron Howard‘s film from start to finish. It’s very well done, very full and expert for what it is. It’s more satisfying, more underlined (but in a subtle way) and more clearly wrought than the play, frankly. It’s not Kubrick, Bresson, Kazan, Eisenstein, Welles, the Coen brothers or Lubitsch. It is what it is, and that’s in no way a problem. And it significantly improves upon what it was on the New York stage.

And Frank Langella‘s performance as Richard Nixon is naturally and necessarily more toned down than it was on-stage, and that, Honest Injun, makes it a fascinating, moving (as in genuinely sad), award-level effort.