Milius
★★★☆☆

Milius is an entertaining, elegiac documentary on the career of iconoclastic screenwriter/director John Milius. For those who only know Milius as the original writer of Apocalypse Now and the ghostwriter of Clint Eastwood’s “Do I feel Lucky” speech in Dirty Harry and Robert Shaw’s monologue about the USS Indianapolis disaster in Jaws, this film will introduce you to one of the great characters in cinema history. For those of us who know well the work, personality, and stories of the renegade member of the prolific class of USC film school grads who would form the original American Zoetrope and change the face of cinema forever in the 1970s, the film is little more than a illustrated Wikipedia entry--though one written by knowledgeable friends rather than random strangers.

 Most of Milius’ pals and colleagues (Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Walter Murch, Steven Spielberg, Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Randal Kleiser, Michael Mann, Lawrence Gordon, Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, Kathleen Kennedy, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Dreyfuss, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, Sam Elliott, and more) are happy to appear in this picture and share their memories. Everything from Milius’ speed and skill as a writer, to his controversial love of guns and war, to the creation of his oversized public persona, and his successes and failures in Hollywood is touched upon. But this complicated and fascinating figure deserves a more insightful biographical documentary---one that digs deep and tries to understand the heart and soul of the man. Directors Joey Figueroa and Zak Knutson, who came up through the Kevin Smith school of run-and-gun filmmaking, know who to interview and how to gain access to them, but their skill at constructing a memorable talking head documentary is lacking. The movie certainly does succeed in making you want to go out and watch all of John Milus’s films, but it won’t get under your skin like a great doc should. Yet somehow, it feels appropriate that this tribute to the larger-than-life raconteur who never made a cinematic masterpiece is a hodgepodge of terrific anecdotes rather than a great film.

Directed by Zak Knutson and Joey Figueroa
Produced by Zak Knutson, Joey Figueroa, and Ken Plume

With: John Milius, Dennis Aaberg, Peter Bart, Bill Cody, Francis Ford Coppola, Darren Dalton, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Richard Dreyfuss, Clint Eastwood, Sam Elliott, Buzz Feitshans, Harrison Ford, Bob Gale, Molly Glover, Donald F. Glut, John Goodman, Lawrence Gordon, Rorion Gracie, George Hamilton, James Earl Jones, William Katt, Kathleen Kennedy, Randal Kleiser, Gerry Lopez, George Lucas, Michael Mann, Amanda Milius, Ethan Milius, Elvis Mitchell, Andre Morgan, Walter Murch, Mace Neufeld, Ed O'Neill, William Phelps, John Plaster, Albert S. Ruddy, Paul Schrader, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Martin Scorsese, Nat Segaloff, Charlie Sheen, Bryan Singer, Steven Spielberg, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone, John Strong, Kurt Sutter, Lea Thompson, Matthew Weiner, Robert Zemeckis, and Chuck Zito

Cinematography: Zak Knutson, Joey Figueroa, Jim Firios, and Austin Nordell
Editing: Zak Knutson
Music: Daniel Sternbaum

Runtime: 103 min
Release Date: 19 March 2013
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
Color