Today, 11 April, the mediocre screenwriter and director John Milius is 76 years old. It says a lot about doing these anniversary posts that I would have to pick him today. I’m sure there are psychotronic icons that I could write about but I’m working with a decidedly weak database. If I keep this up, next year it should be better.
Milius’ reputation rests upon two things. People who take film more seriously tend to note that he co-wrote Apocalypse Now. And I don’t doubt that Milius put a lot of interesting ideas into the film. It’s worth noting that one thing — the title — was, as usual, yet another reactionary political statement by the The Man Who Would Be a Marine.
(According to Milius, he really wanted to go to Vietnam was a marine. Of course, that was long before the war turned ugly. But I seriously doubt his commitment regardless. He seems too much the loud-mouthed reactionary who builds a fake past to justify his current jingoist beliefs.)
His other great success if Red Dawn (1984). It’s more or less John Milius masturbating onto film stock. There’s nothing reactionaries like to do as much as fantasize about what they’d do to those [pick an enemy] if the time ever came. If it did, they’d be hiding under the kitchen table.
(Note that the terrific director Kevin Reynolds wrote the original script for Red Dawn. Milius took out all of the interesting conflict in the script and replaced it with the brainless shoot-em-up that we see on the screen.)
This is not to say that it isn’t an okay action film. It works well enough. I have a hard time believing that Soviet forces would drop into a rural high school and just shoot kids randomly, but whatever. If this were a low-budget independent film, I’d like it. Coming from Milius, I know he believes this nonsense.
A lot of my friends still enjoy Red Dawn. And that’s fine! My inability to make it all the way through the film is a problem with me, not it. I normally love children’s films. I have a problem when adults think they are True and Profound. But it would be great if I could get past that.
Fortunately, I don’t have to because there are so many films left to see! One of them is Amerigeddon — I wonder if that’s any good?!
Also on 11 April
Director Vincent Gallo (Buffalo ’66) is 59.
Image made from Angry Smiley Face. It is in the public domain.