The year-end demolition derby that is Oscar season is ramping up, and among the next big films to face the gauntlet is Gus Van Sant's Harvey Milk biopic, Milk. Already the recipient of oodles of pre-release buzz (so there, says Focus Features), its release Wednesday will cap a period of real-world gay activism that has unmistakable parallels to the events in the film. Senior editor S.T. VanAirsdale and associate editor Kyle Buchanan have already seen the movie and are ready to share their thoughts; so which editor wanted to see more James Franco, and which wanted to see more of James Franco's stunt phallus? Read on to find out!KB: So, Stu, you and I have both seen one of the year's most anticipated movies, Milk. I'm curious about our reactions, because we both came to from a different place. I saw it before the election, and you saw it after. Also, I'm a gay man, and you're not (aside from that one time at summer camp). STV: True, true. KB: So what did you think of it? STV: I liked it! Well-made prestige Oscar bait. KB: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate its Van Santyness? Or perhaps, on a scale of Finding Forrester to Gerry? STV: 1 being Finding Forrester, Milk is right around a 3. KB: It's pretty straightforward, except for the occasional fun pop touch. I liked the film too, although I felt it ends better than it begins. The beginning is verrry biopic-y, every introduction is portentous and expositional. STV: It's a problem throughout, though. KB: People say things like, "Let me tell you something, CLEVE JONES..." I am pretty sure I never use people's last names when talking to them. Though maybe I would if I knew they'd be famous one day! STV: Try it with me some time, let's see what happens. KB: Do you think we'll see a single review of this film that won't mention Milk's parallel to Obama, or Prop 8? STV: This one won't be it, I guess. I hope so, though. KB: The Prop 8 stuff is pretty hard to ignore, considering Milk is trying to overturn the anti-gay Prop 6 in the movie. He even makes some remarks, like that the anti-Prop 6 ad campaign was "closeted," that I heard about the "No on 8" campaign. STV: So we need 100 critics saying it's relevant?
After surviving months of Dark Knight hype, viral outreach and tastefully overblown praise for late co-star Heath Ledger, Defamer finally got its chance at a screening Tuesday to see what all the Bat-fuss was about. And as editor Seth Abramovitch and senior editor S.T. VanAirsdale discovered in their second installment of Defamer Instant Reviews, not everybody is ready to validate its Second Coming status quite yet. Is it good? Absolutely. Is it the best film of the summer? That's where things get complicated — on AIM, of course, because this watershed cultural moment deserves no less.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has been unveiled at last for international critics, and with most verdicts coming in mixed to above-average, our discriminating tastes still found much left to be desired. Defamer editor Seth Abramovitch and senior editor S.T. VanAirsdale attended yesterday's screenings in Los Angeles and New York, respectively, after which the slow process of psychological reckoning and franchise restoration began the only way they knew how: via instant messaging.