Directed by Joey Figueroa and Zak Knutson.
A look at the life of filmmaker John Milius.
If you stopped members of the public and mentioned the name John Milius they wouldn’t have a ruddy clue who you were talking about – even helping them by throwing a clue of, “He works in the movie business?” Again they’d look at you as if you were wasting their time, so you stop another John or Jane Doe and ask them, hoping that the number 526 will be your lucky number.
For those out there who can’t be bothered to quickly jump on IMDb, John Milius is the brains behind the movies Dirty Harry, Apocalypse Now, Conan the Barbarian, etc. and thanks was even given to him for Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. So now you’re brought up to speed, allow me to throw a spanner into the works of your praise – he’s also the brains behind the right-wing soaked Red Dawn and he’s known for his right-wing political leanings and makes no bones about it. It’s easy to tarnish that shine.
I’ve known of the works of John Milius for some time due to my love of the cinema and movies; however I tend not to go deeper than being excited when I see a name attached (or in the case of Adam Sandler, violently ill when I see his name attached). I know this is fairly blinkered of me as there is a world beyond those names and these people could be socially and morally repugnant (I return to Adam Sandler) and I should be aware of what they stand or stood for, but watching Milius has proven my case in that if you know a person’s political leaning you judge them on that first; knowing John Milius’ view on the world makes me look a wee bit deeper again at the films I enjoy.
The film takes us through Milius’ life from being a small boy, through school, his lost chance to be in the army, USC film school to the movies and finally to today, where we see John on the road to a steady recovery after a tragically debilitating stroke. The film is entwined with conversations from members of the film industry – great names like Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, and Martin Scorsese; oh and George Lucas is in the film too. What rang for me was each person described some variety of bullying behaviour from Milius where, albeit standing up for what’s right, he liked to chomp down on those that didn’t consider him to be right. At some moments I was laughing and then I questioned whether it was actually funny. For example when the USC tutor refused to look at George Lucas’s homework as he wanted to give the others in the class a few more days, Milius stormed over and punched the tutor out for doing this. Initially I burst out laughing then I considered what happened here… he assaulted a man.
Come the end of this film the story turns towards Milius at the present as he is slowly being rehabilitated from an awful stoke which has affected his memory and his ability to process words and speech; it’s awful to witness as this strong, forthright man is reduced to being cheered when words are remembered. It was in this section I felt for this aging Hollywood behemoth, as I recently suffered with an illness which severely damaged my memory and the ability to process words. I can relate to how much losing these abilities makes you feel so empty and so useless.
Milius is an interesting watch; it can be entertaining if you allow yourself to ignore certain aspects of Milius’ behaviour, and it is interesting to see how much the Hollywood powerhouses turned to John to make scenes glow.
Flickering Myth Rating: Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★