The 1970s was an extraordinary time of rebellion, of questioning every accepted idea: political activism, hedonism, protests, the sexual revolution, the women's movement, the civil rights movement, the music revolution, rage and liberation. Every standard by which we set our social and cultural clocks was either turned inside out or thrown away completely and reinvented. For American cinema, the 1970s was an era during which a new generation of filmmakers created work for a new kind of audience--moviegoers who were hungry for stories that reflected their own experiences and who were turning their backs on aged old studio formulas. As a result, emerging filmmakers influenced by foreign directors such as Godard, Kurosawa and Fellini coupled with the social climate and a struggling studio system, converged to create a new kind of moviemaking. Through their choice of material, filmmakers such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, William Friedkin, ... Written by
Sujit R. Varma
As it stands for right now, Ted Demme and Richard Lagravenese's valentine to 70's film and their makers is an almost average, almost dull look at an incredible moment in the history of cinema; I think even hardcore film buffs will be a bit disappointed, especially if they've seen Raging Bulls, Easy Riders which covers exactly the same territory with much more thoroughness and compulsively compelling narrative. It doesn't seem fair to judge what they've done considering this is a gutted version of what will be a three-part, three hour show on IFC sometime in August but as it stands 'Decade' serves as a celluloid 70'S MOVIES FOR DUMMIES for those who are curious.
It walks the typical tightrope of grainy movie clips from beloved classics --The Godfather, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest-- intercut with that decade's most famous (and beautifully lit) characters --Robert Altman, Peter Bogdonovich, Francis Ford Coppola-- and yet there's no new observations or insight into that time or its films. For the first hour or so, you're slammed over the head again and again with their "We needed to shake up the old studio system, man!" message and the back-slapping, self-congratulatory machismo that runs rampant yet when shown the result of their anger and angst, it looks almost silly --i.e. Midnight Cowboy, Panic in Needle Park, Easy Rider-- and ADUTI comes dangerously close to nearly capsizing.
The only moment where something fresh seems to be said comes when both Julie Christie and Ellen Burstyn comment on the lack of roles for women during this reverential pissing contest. A brief salute to Jane Fonda for They Shoot Horses, Don't They and Klute and Jill Clayburgh for An Unmarried Woman and suddenly it felt like the filmmakers were taking you down a street that's been closed for quite some time but then it was back to the world of Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Peter Bogdonovich, William Friedkin, and Coppola. (Christie and Burstyn are only two out of four women interviewed for this documentary --the others being Polly Platt and Pam Grier-- and it makes you wonder why Gena Rowlands, Faye Dunaway, Diane Keaton, Liv Ullman, Shelley Duvall, and Fonda herself either declined or weren't even approached.)
The best thing about ADUTI is its never-given-its-full-due undercurrent in how most of today's filmmakers and actors are confronted with the same b******* these mavericks were in their struggle for personal vision and expression. Where are our "Klute"'s and "Scarecrow"'s and "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice"'s and "Network"'s in this A Beautiful Mind/Gladiator/Braveheart/Chicago movie world.
Maybe the full, unedited show will be more satisfying.
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