March 11, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I, II & III • Page 19 Sean Penn gives tour de force performance in ‘Milk’ by Dennis Seuling Heading this week’s new DVD and Blu-ray releases, “Milk” (Universal Studios Home Entertainment) features Sean Penn’s Oscar-winning performance as city supervisor and gay rights activist Harvey Milk. The film was one of the Best Picture nominees this year for its unwavering portrayal of the controversial, often theatrical Milk, a role most actors would kill for. Penn fits the part perfectly. He infuses just the right combination of humor, disappointment, frustration, and outrage into a nuanced performance. Director Gus Van Sant weaves period, archival footage in with new footage to seamlessly create San Francisco in the early ‘70s. Despite all the attention to period detail, however, it is Penn who carries the film. Milk was an openly gay man who championed the civil rights of gay Americans, who were suffering from the same bigotry and biases that had been directed against blacks and women. He felt that confronting injustices head-on was the only way to overcome them. The film features excellent supporting performances by James Franco as Milk’s lover, Josh Brolin as Milk’s political rival Dan White, and Victor Garber as San Francisco Mayor Ray Moscone. The Oscarwinning script by Dustin Lance Black moves quickly and presents Milk not simply as a martyr for a cause, but as a man with flaws who recognized the political power of an uncloseted gay community and became the first openly gay man elected to public office in America. “Rachel Getting Married” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) features the Academy Award-nominated performance of Anne Hathaway as Kym, who returns from drug rehab for the wedding of her sister, Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt). Kym’s presence tears open old family wounds and creates tensions, resentments, and an uncomfortable atmosphere. Although Hathaway is good, the film is a long slog through bickering, recriminations, overly dramatic pronouncements, and a collection of blankly smiling supporting characters that appear more like robots than real people. With an abundance of loving smiles, sidelong glances, and awkward pauses, the whole undertaking seems more like an episode of “One Life to Live” than a feature film. Debra Winger as Kym and Rachel’s divorced mother plays her role in a detached, underplayed style that resonates amid the hoopla of the wedding celebration. DeWitt is effective as Rachel and is the most believable character things become pretty grating. Both Moore and Broderick are good, but it’s hard to warm to their characters. Though “Marie and Bruce” is only 90 minutes long, it seems endless. Language is often profane and there is some nudity, which explains the R rating. There are no extras. “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” (Walt Disney Home Entertainment) combines live action and computer generated image technology in a movie dog lovers will enjoy. When a stylish Chihuahua named Chloe (voice of Drew Barrymore) is misplaced by a careless dog-sitter (Piper Perabo), she must find her own way back to her pampered Beverly Hills life. Basically a canine road trip, the film shows Chloe unexpectedly tossed into the non-indulgent real world as she tries to get home. She is helped by a German shepherd, Delgado (voice of Andy Garcia), and a posse of new dog friends, while Papi (voice of George Lopez), Chloe’s ardent admirer, sets out on a mission to rescue his beloved. The movie is silly, but offers lots of laughs, most of them visual: Chihuahuas wearing sunglasses, a tribe of singing Chihuahuas, assorted tricks, and muzzle-replacement animation that gives the illusion the dogs are mouthing words. Disney has had great success through the years with dog stories such as “Lady and the Tramp” and “101 Dalmatians,” and (continued on Crossword page) Sean Penn won Best Actor for his portrayal of Harvey Milk. in the movie. Her irritation at Kym is balanced with sisterly affection that rings true. The Blu-ray edition contains deleted scenes, filmmaker and cast commentaries, and a behind-the-scenes featurette. “Marie and Bruce” (Genius Entertainment), based on a play by Wallace Shawn, focuses on one day in the life of a dysfunctional Manhattan couple (Julianne Moore, Matthew Broderick). The film opens with Marie’s pronouncement that their long-deteriorating marriage is over and she is leaving. During the next 24 hours, each vents, recalls happier times, and expresses hopes for the future. Despite a few attempts to open up the action the movie cannot shake its stage origins. 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