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"Milius" - doc on writer/director John Milius

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Andrew Kimery
"Milius" - doc on writer/director John Milius
on May 21, 2014 at 5:02:56 pm

I always thought Milius was an unheralded member of the American Zoetrope gang (Lucas, Coppola, Spielberg, etc.,) so when I heard about the new doc on Netflix called "Milius" I jumped on it to find out more about a filmmaker that I don't think gets his due.

Long story short, the documentary is definitely worth watching though it certainly has it's rough points. There is some really choppy dialogue editing at times, occasionally it meanders around between John's history, Hollywood history and personal anecdotes (narration could've help it be more succinct) and overall it suffers from the filmmakers being too close to their film and having too much good material to work with. The running time is 103 minutes and I think it would be a better film at 90 minutes.

The tag line on the movie poster is "The greatest filmmaker you never knew" and unfortunately that hook only gets anemically addressed after the halfway point of the doc. The most engaging moments don't come until nearly the very end and by that point I'm wondering where this drama was during the first 90% of the movie. Sure, from a chronological aspect it should come last but from a storytelling aspect John's struggles need to be introduced much earlier in order to get the audience emotionally invested. I mean, sure, "Behind the Music" became a cliche but they had the 'rise and fall' (and sometimes rise again) storytelling style down pat and "Milius" needed more struggle up front and more foreshadowing of things to come.

John Milius is famous (infamous?) for his counter-counter culture leanings but I didn't realize that he dreamed of a military career but was denied military service because of asthma. That loss of purpose early in life fueled Milius and I think his craving for a military career certainly explains the signature style he developed. The documentary has a who's who of interviews and I think Milius has the genuine respect of his peers as opposed to just "It's so great to work with him" lip service.


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