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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (2003)

TV-14 | | Documentary | 9 March 2003 (USA)
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A look at 1970s Hollywood when it was known as New Hollywood, and the director was the star of the movie.

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Based upon Peter Biskind's book of the same name, this BBC-produced documentary traces the rise of a generation of Hollywood filmmakers who briefly changed the face of movies with a more personal approach that pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable on-screen. Influential directors who appear include Arthur Penn ("Bonnie and Clyde"), Dennis Hopper ("Easy Rider"), Francis Ford Coppola ("The Godfather"), John Schlesinger ("Midnight Cowboy"), Bob Rafelson ("Five Easy Pieces") Martin Scorsese ("Taxi Driver"), Peter Bogdanovich ("The Last Picture Show"), and Jonathan Demme ("Crazy Mama"). Narrated by William H. Macy, the documentary features vintage clips of Coppola, Scorsese, Beatty, George Lucas, Sam Peckinpah, Roman Polanski, Robert Altman, and Pauline Kael. It also includes original interview material with Penn; Roger Corman; Bogdanovich; Hopper; David Picker; writer/directors John Milius and Paul Schrader; actresses Karen Black, Cybill Shepherd, Margot Kidder, and Jennifer Salt; ... Written by alfiehitchie

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How the Sex Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood

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9 March 2003 (USA)  »

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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls  »

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Many of the subjects profiled in author Peter Biskind's book, including directors Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Robert Altman, and 'William Friedkin', declined interviews for the documentary. See more »

Connections

References Hello, Dolly! (1969) See more »

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tough call
13 October 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

A documentary like Easy Riders, Raging Bulls should be the kind of documentary I should like more. It is chock full of interviews and choice information about the time period (60's-70's) in American cinema that changed everything, for a lot better and some for not. But there are a couple of problems that become inherent. If you have read the book which spurred on the documentary by Peter Biskind (also author of Down and Dirty Pictures, a book about the 90's independent film movement), it's kind of like reading a masterpiece in the trashiest sense. There is a lot more in-depth information in the book, however much of it at the personal expense of the filmmakers, writers, producers, and others that are written about (a good deal with gossip, interestingly enough on the special features of the DVD some of the interviewees speak out against the falsities in the book, Paul Schrader being one of them). The other problem is that the same year this documentary was released on Spike TV (then later to DVD, which is where I saw it), there was the great documentary in the similar, more satisfying vein, A Decade Under the Influence. It might be unfair to compare the two, however if one were wanting in the first place to get a video history- by way of movie clips and interviews- about the years that changed movies a generation before, I would go for 'Decade' due to it's more obscure film clips, and a few more revealing and insightful interviews.

In fact, over half of the people in one documentary are also in the other, like Dennis Hopper, Paul Schrader, Peter Bogdanovich, Ellen Burstyn, Roger Corman, and Monte Hellman among others. It's not that this documentary in and of itself is not insubstantial. On a base level you get the lowdown, about how as Hollywood's studio system was on the decline, filmmakers who were coming up in Corman's enclave (Coppola, Hopper, Bogdanovich, even Scorsese), along with some other key outsiders, infused European ideals into their personal statements, making great art and some money in the process. On the level of just giving forth the information, it's not a bad telling of tales, and has a couple of interviews I wasn't expecting. But, again, my sense of proportion was out of place; I could sense that the doc, much like the book, was more interested in some of the more 'seedy' details (i.e. the stuff about Julia Phillips, or Bogdanovich, which is practically a quarter of the book) than in the actual cinema-contexts of the work. You also don't hear as much about the power of the influence on the filmmakers, which was an appeal of 'Decade'. It's not too tough a call to make, and if you've seen 'Decade' before 'Easy Riders Raging Bulls' you may agree. I liked it, but it's not saying much when the book, which itself was readable mostly for the sake of history (some worthwhile, some not), was better.


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