Sunday, February 22, 2009

San Francisco on Film

Last weekend, we finally got our act together and went out to watch "Milk" at the Castro Theatre (, a San Francisco landmark dating back to the silent film era. We missed the film's initial run a few months back so we were delighted when it returned for a pre-Oscar re-release.

About fifteen minutes before the movie started, an organ rose out of the stage in front of the screen. The organist began playing film standards like Moon River and Somewhere Over the Rainbow, bringing back a bit of the magic that has gone missing from the modern movie experience. We'll take that over ninety minutes of awful movie previews any day.

”Milk” was excellent and it was especially interesting to watch the demonstrations against Prop 6 (1978) being played out on film much in the same way the anti-Prop 8 demonstrations took over the city last year. However, while Prop 6 was voted down in California three decades ago, Prop 8 passed...for now, at least. So much for progress.

Still, in doing a bit of research on Prop 8, we found a link to the Prop 8 contributions ( from our neighbors in our Castro zip code:

Donations in support of Prop 8: 18.
Donations in opposition to Prop 8: 3908.

Seeing those numbers brings up a bit of San Francisco pride.

During almost every crowd scene in the movie, we could hear whispers from one row or another in the dark around us, exclaiming "hey, that's me!" We laughed at the thought that half of our audience seemed to have been an extra in the film. When "Milk" was being filmed in the city, ads were placed on Craigslist inviting the public to appear at specific areas in period clothing to be extras. Unfortunately, the filming took place on weekdays while we were at work...having seen the film, we wish we'd called in sick.

If you haven't seen the film yet, do so. And if you have the chance to watch it at the Castro, definitely do so. It was so cool to watch a movie about "The Mayor of Castro Street" while sitting in a theater on Castro Street. Thirty-plus years ago, Harvey Milk's camera shop was located a block from where we were sitting. On our walk home after the film ended, we even passed the storefront that was once Castro Camera.

All of the actors were fantastic. Sean Penn's Oscar nomination is well-deserved and we are hoping he wins this weekend. James Franco, Emile Hirsch and Alison Pill also stood out, as did the city of San Francisco.

Tune in to our next San Francisco Film Review when we'll be exploring Telegraph Hill through the lens of the documentary film The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.

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