I saw Gus van Sant's movie, Milk, a mostly factual dramatization of the last years of the life of Harvey Milk. Van Sant's treatment of the subject follows Randy Shilt's biography The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (St. Martin's Press, 1982). Walking into the theater, I was a bit skeptical, since I am a fan of the 1984 documentary film The Times of Harvey Milk.
I needn't have worried. Milk is an impressive, unsentimental retelling of the story of California's first openly gay elected official. Sean Penn does an amazing job of channeling Milk. The movie is going to win awards. (I'm going to predict Best Picture and Best Actor at the 2009 Academy Awards.)
The only reason not to watch the movie would be if you were a Prop 8 supporter and don't want to leave the theater thoroughly ashamed of yourself. (The movie portrays the fight over the anti-gay 1978 Briggs Initiative, with some historical footage. Anti-gay campaigns, like all attempts a rolling back civil rights, don't pass the test of time.)
Milk is a well-made film with compelling current relevance. Two thumbs up. (That is, both of my thumbs.)