I watched two films in the last few days, Milk and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Although at first glance these two movies may seem very different, and they are in many aspects, I would like to do a little bit of comparing and contrasting.
Both films are biographical in nature and based on true stories. Both films end in an assassination and in both cases the killer was a close acquaintance of the man they killed. In both films the viewer knew the assassination was coming. Both films center on the relationship between a “charismatic celebrity” and a man who walked in this celebrity’s shadow. Both were good films and I believe this may be because they used a similar formula.
I have mixed feelings about entertainment based on true historical events. This is mainly because I fear that the entertainment version will twist the facts to make it more appealing to a mass audience thus making us more ignorant of the truth. However, there’s also a strong appeal to seeing events unfold on the screen which you know a version of actually occurred in the past.
I am not sure if I liked one of these films more than the other. I believe the cinematography and style of Jesse James to be superior, but Sean Penn’s performance in Milk is marvelous. What really strikes me is the similarity in the two stories and the coincidence of me watching them in two consecutive days.