Anyone alive during the 1970’s would remember the name of John Milius, perhaps the most infamous renegade of New Hollywood movie brats of which include directors Scorcese, Spielberg, Coppola and Lucas. Born far too late into the 80’s, my introduction to Milius was in film history books, celluloid side-notes and rabble-rousing insider scribbles of Peter Biskind’s gloriously entertaining Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, which evoked the drugs, sex and rock n’roll generation of the American film tinseltown that Milius was very much a part of. This new documentary Milius attempts to resuscitate that era by resurrecting plenty of archival footage and inviting talking heads of the period’s key figures to varying degrees, resulting to a paradoxical final product – it waxes lyrical, if affectionate, statements on Milius the artist one moment and then ruthlessly exposes the controversially mad genius-cum-lunatic the next.
The amount of talents popping up to share fond, funny, nostalgic and horrified memories (Oliver Stone clearly occupying the latter, commenting on Milius’s ‘crazed, right-wing’ anarchic politics) is enough to fuel the firepower of a few documentaries stitched together, and Milius the extraordinary writer and tragic man receives much of the his contemporaries’ respect and reverence, finally gaining the credits which Hollywood has palpably denied him of. After all, this was the man whose words where behind the iconic speeches of Dirty Harry, the wit behind Spielberg’s Jaws, the raw, gritty beauty of Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and the unfettered energy of Conan the Barbarian (admittedly awful film but heralded the arrival of Arnold Schwarzenegger). An unsung hero, then, of a few of the legendary works of the 70’s to 80’s, right until his directorial efforts, the mistreated coming-of-age surfing tale Big Wednesday and the ill-judged and downright jingoistic Red Dawn, were poorly received. Enter Milius the militant, gun-toting madman, which practically became a PR bandwagon in itself which Hollywood thrived on destroying. Officially a reject, the greatest tragedy of Milius, just like his heroes in the Iliad, is that he occupied right-wing politics in an industry where its only concern is, commercially, in itself.
DIRECTOR: Joey Figueroa, Zak Knutson | CAST: John Milius, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorcese | DISTRIBUTOR: Studiocanal | RUNNING-TIME: 103 mins | GENRE: Documentary | COUNTRY: USA