In the November 25 issue of the L.A. Weekly, film critic and author David Ehrenstein interviews director Gus Van Sant about all things Milk, including Sean Penn, gay cinema, Oliver Stone, politics and the history of The Mayor of Castro Street and the long road to bringing the story of Harvey Milk into docudrama form. It’s a very illuminating conversation, and my favorite moment—in this interview, and perhaps of any interview I’ve read this year—comes near the close, when Ehrenstein comments upon the appearance of the relatively straightforwardly stylized Milk after a much more esoteric period in the director’s recent work (Psycho, Gerry, Elephant, Last Days, Paranoid Park) and for a brief moment Van Sant glories in Milk not just as a portrait of a gay icon or as a docudrama or a possible Oscar contender, but as something even more pure:
Ehrenstein: It’s a very interesting project coming off your whole “film as objet d’art” period, culminating in Paranoid Park. To me, the film of yours Milk most resembles is Mala Noche.
Van Sant: Really?
Ehrenstein: Because you’re playing around with different kinds of film stocks, focal lengths.
Van Sant: Oh, yes. The cinema!