I'm not going to talk at length about the film itself because I'd rather wait until other people have a chance to see it without my biases ringing in their ears.
I will give you this quote from an article by Paul VanDeCarr, available on the film's website: "[Rob] Epstein tells me his documentary ["The Times of Harvey Milk"] 'was really about the "public Harvey," and Gus's film is going to show so many more dimensions to the "person Harvey".'"
I'll go along with that.
Let's just say that there are no big surprises. They cannot be faulted on their historical accuracy. All the places are authentic -- not just recreations, but the actual places where most of these events took place. They have taken very few liberties with history (and the few that they have taken are so minor that they are easily forgiven).
There's nothing in the film that you don't expect to be there. It felt like a lot of time passed over the course of the film, but the film itself didn't feel long.
Everyone knows how this film will be received in the Castro -- it's kind of an automatic hit unless it's really, really bad and inaccurate. So I guess my question is how it will be received in places where people don't already know this story, chapter and verse.
We were speaking with a volunteer usher in the lobby who is about my age (we were both in high school in 1978). She said she remembers hearing about the assassinations at the time. But then she said, "I understand that someone else was shot as well?" We said that, yes, the mayor was also killed. She asked, "Were they together as a couple?" We said, oh, no. Before she could ask more, I said, "If you don't already know this story, I'm not going to spoil it for you. The truth is actually stranger than you can imagine. You wouldn't believe me if I told it to you, so just watch the film and be surprised."
I have no celebrity sightings to report -- only local celebrities that you would expect to see (Mark Leno, Bevan Dufty, Jan Wahl, Hank Plante, Tom Ammiano). We saw Tory Hartmann in the lobby. She does not seem to have aged a day since "The Times of Harvey Milk," and she looked FABulous.
Tickets were not sent out in advance (so that no one could create counterfeit tickets -- the tickets turned out to be huge, about one-third the size of a letter-sized piece of paper), so all tickets had to be picked up at Will Call in the parking lot behind/beside the Castro. A woman was walking up and down the Will Call line asking people if they had tickets they weren't going to use. I didn't have the heart to tell her that if I weren't using one of my tickets, I could have given it to at least five other people at my office alone, not to mention friends who would have leapt at the opportunity.
There was a sizable and vocal "No on 8" protest going on directly across Castro Street from the theater. This struck me largely as preaching to the converted, except perhaps for all the TV cameras that were in front of the theater pointed in their direction. The "red carpet" area was in the street in front of the Castro Theater, so the protest would have been in the background of virtually all TV camera shots.
Tickets turned out to be assigned seating (I didn't even know that the seats were numbered in the Castro). And our seats were right in front of the projection booth in the balcony. But I ain't grumbling about that. First, we got into the freakin' world premiere, so I wasn't gonna be picky about where I sat (something about "gift horses" and their mouths). Second, since there was no one behind us, that meant that when we got cramped in those tiny seats, we could just stand up.
My favorite moment of the evening: On the way out, there were small crowds hoping for Sean Penn sightings. One young woman kept asking, "Was it good? Is it going to win Best Picture?" Then she said, "I was in the parade scene. Did you see me? I was the one in teal."
And, yes, I got my three seconds of screen time during the "No on 6" victory party scene. My trombone appears first, followed shortly by me.
The film's web site has been expanded (that's where the lovely photos above come from), and it's no longer the bare bones "poster and trailer" site that was up last time I checked about a month ago. So you should check that out sometime. There is now a place for people to type in their own stories of people who inspired them.