Miner’s idea of a masterpiece is that it should adequately convey such a thing as the writer’s mind per se, his predicament and all the other sorts of damned important folderol that go with it. He has, for starting points, Altman’s Images and Resnais’s Providence, he moves almost instantaneously from point to point along a trajectory signified by an absolute concatenation, a mad logic of events.
William Katt is the author at a book-signing, his estranged wife (Kay Lenz) is manhandled on the phone somewhere else by a man in evening clothes, a jocular occasion unlike the dour business of autographing.
The author at home puts a frozen dinner in the microwave oven, package and all. He’s writing One Man’s Story: A Personal Account of the Vietnam War. A winged monster flies out of the closet at him, he sets up a battery of cameras, it isn’t there.
A Hemingway joke has the prize fish on the wall turn and heckle him, he shoots it.
This raid on the inarticulate is peopled with flashbacks and nightmare visions, it’s his late aunt’s house, he moves back in with his wife after a last grotesque Hitchcockian tussle with a dead comrade, the wild man of the outfit, an image directly related to Stone’s Platoon (the kitchen suddenly a cliff at night above a boiling sea, the author’s fingers stepped on by a helmeted corpse, are worked out from North by Northwest).
The aunt’s inquisitive neighbor (George Wendt) has a celebrity next door and likes it, he calls the cops when a gun-blast fells the author’s hideously promoted pink ghoul of a wife, no body is found but the author has a time hiding its nonexistent bloody presence.
And so it goes, the perfect corollary to Peter Yates’ tale of a publishing house, Curtain Call. Dapper phantoms wrest the heir from a miserable takeover there, here sick, annoying figments beset the writer, a humorous thing in both cases.
The aviators at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind come from a spaceship, and E.T. does, too, so Forever Young finds a way (via Woody Allen’s Sleeper) to eliminate the middleman.
It’s a calm and contained satire. Miner plays by the rules of the game: Forever Young is shot in Spielberg’s style (blindfolded as it were) and without violating his artistic strictures. A cryogenics experiment that freezes a test pilot is inadvertently shut down by a couple of Amblin lads, but once thawed out nothing can stop his age from catching up to him, and suddenly he’s an elderly man (touchingly played by Mel Gibson) who flies a B-25 from an air show to the seaside home of his absconded love, where they embrace amid hovering gulls. “Sure miss the boys!”, as Phil Harris would say.
Jerry Goldsmith’s score adumbrates the latter part of Tod und Verklärung.
There have been some cavils with the production, that various items are insufficiently a surprise to the pilot, as though television wasn’t a widely-booted concept in the Thirties (Modern Times is a good example), and compact discs weren’t lightweight 78s with a Technicolor shimmer.