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And the fact is that if Penn wins, it will have been richly deserved. His portrayal of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to official office in America (as a City Supervisor in San Francisco), a man who became political late in life, mobilised a community almost by accident, and was then assassinated by a disturbed colleague, is extraordinary. He appears, I think, in every scene, and his nuanced, unselfish and humane performance elevates a film that, while admirable, is in all other respects the very definition of niche market.

For some of us, knowledge of the political leanings of an actor can get in the way of a performance. I recall the critic James Delingpole once commenting that he could not watch Sean Connery as Bond any more without thinking "that horrible Scottish nationalist". While I understand this completely, I think one should try to resist it. Clooney's narcissistic, risk-free fearlessness does not detract from his skill as a light comedian. Vanessa Redgrave is still one of the greatest instinctive actresses of our time; I love watching her despite, well, everything. Penn's extra-curricular posturing is very irritating, but his stature as a great screen actor is not in doubt.

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B. Franklin
January 8th, 2009
4:01 PM
As an American myself, I can say with great confidence that there are many people here who are just waiting for the predicted earthquake known as "The Big One" - thereby dropping the abomination called California into the ocean - and delivering us from the greatest American eyesore since the world's largest ball of twine. Anyone care for some beach-front property in Vegas?

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