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|Index||18 reviews in total|
The last golden age of Hollywood film-making is captured in this two
hour documentary, based on Peter Biskind's bestselling book of the same
name. Director Kenneth Bowser does a commendable job of corralling many
of the key names of the period in this light but passable introduction
to the topic.
Bowser's treatise of 1970s Hollywood is essentially a potted history of the time many of the key developments and vital films that were made during this period are passed over or given nothing more than a cursory glance. The documentary suffers as a result and added to this, historical inaccuracies are also evident.
Film fans will most enjoy the scenes of archival footage a desperately nerdy George Lucas being introduced as Francis Ford Coppola's 'assistant'; Jack Nicholson, Bob Rafelson, Dennis Hopper and Peter Tork on the set of The Monkees vehicle 'Head'; and the piece de resistance, a home movie with Messrs Spielberg, Lucas, Milius, Coppola, de Palma, Schrader and Scorsese all in the same room. To be a fly on the wall at that party!
There are also current interviews with the likes of Peter Bogdanovich, Dennis Hopper, Peter Bart, John Milius, Michael Phillips, Paul Schrader, Peter Fonda, Albert S. Ruddy and many more figures of the time.
Bowser's documentary serves as a snapshot of the time Biskind's novel is a veritable diary. The book is packed with amazing stories that even a 13-part series couldn't document. Watch this documentary, get a taste of the time and then buy the book to immerse yourself in a fantastic period of American filmic creativity.
"Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" is an orgy for movie lovers. How can anyone
who loves film not be in heaven at the constant parade of landmark
films and key industry figures that charges across the screen in this
fast-paced documentary? If you've read the book, the movie will feel
cursory, and one will find himself wishing for more detail, more
insider stories. There are curious omissions here, and wonders if
Bowser structured his content based on who he could get to agree to
interviews. Altman is hardly mentioned, Scorsese (who shows up
everywhere talking about movies) is not interviewed, and Kubrick isn't
mentioned at all (save for one shot of the "2001" poster). Still,
what's there is great, and if you're like me, you'll be left with a
twinge of sadness that such a rich time in film artistry seems to be
After 20th Century-Fox's "The Sound of Music" raked in big box-office and Academy Awards, every Hollywood studio was busy for the next couple of years trying to duplicate its success (it isn't specified here, but Fox itself was one of the hungriest at pilfering from this genre). Unfortunately, "The Sound of Music" was really the end of the popular, old-fashioned, break-out-in-song Hollywood movie, giving way to the rebellious counterculture. Seen as a major turning point--and released before "Bonnie & Clyde"--"The Wild Angels", a Roger Corman biker flick from A.I.P. (which came out one year after "The Sound of Music"), signaled a change in perceptions. The studio system was breaking down and actors were no longer on contract (since the youth movement didn't exactly want pretty stars). Most young, hungry American movie makers of this period took their cues from the European directors of the early '60s, and this documentary chronicles their battles with the ever-present Hollywood regime into getting their avant garde movies made, marketed and released. Most of the movers and shakers from the past are here, looking quite good, and their recollections from this fertile period for thought-provoking entertainment are fascinating. The downfalls (the drugs, the egos) are documented in a matter-of-fact way, nobody is chastised or condescended to, as the rise of the summer blockbuster (Steven Spielberg's "Jaws") heralded the weakening of the character-driven drama. This film does make it seem as if the smaller, more personal Hollywood motion picture is completely dead now, but fails to take into consideration terrific films like "Sling Blade" or "Monster's Ball" which, high profile or not, give serious movie-fans hope for the future. But as a chronicle of this golden era, "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls", narrated by William H. Macy, is fairly straightforward, mostly accurate, very entertaining, and a great tool for film buffs who weren't privileged to have been there. *** from ****
I ran across the documentary by accident, and am really glad that I did -
having been a slave to film study for the last 17 years of my life, I
read about, viewed documentaries involving, and seen the films of most of
the filmmakers profiled in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls so I figured it
make for good background noise while I tended to some writing. What
surprised me was that I had to postpone my work because I was literally
riveted with this film.
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls chronicles the new wave of filmmakers who revolutionized Hollywood in the late 60's and 70's. While a lot of the stories are relatively well known (the foreign film influence, the problems with the filming of Jaws, the raising of the bar in terms of the box office gross) the candid commentary from the directors, producers, writers and actors that were involved was extremely enlightening and brutally honest. One story that sticks in my mind in particular is the telling by various people of the "Malibu Beach Group" that included Scorsese, Keitel, Spielberg and Paul Schrader among others gathering to party and discuss and debate film. Being a complete film geek, when friends and I get into philosophical discussions about where we would go if we could travel back in time to any moment, my answer has always been to be a production assistant on the set of Citizen Kane. After hearing this story in the documentary, transporting myself back to that scene is a close second. Supplementing these interviews were excellent behind-the-scenes footage that I had never seen of the filmmakers at work, which was absolutely fascinating.
While the documentary skips around according to genre, and not necessarily profiling a single filmmaker at a time, the range of directors presented is admirably wide. The obligatory (and famous) Coppola, Scorsese, Bogdanovch, Lucas and Spielberg are profiled with equal air time as directors who are not household names, like Sam Peckinpah, Arthur Penn and Hal Ashby. This is definitely a great documentary to catch if you want to get some ideas for films that you should watch but don't know are out there, as well as see some of the diverse portfolios the more "commercial" directors have in their pasts.
I read and enjoyed the book, too, but it and the movie make several points I disagree with: _ Almost all of the people mentioned in this film are still around, if you don't count cancer victim Hal Ashby, one-hit wonder Sam Peckinpah and the inconsequential Julia Phillips. The idea that most of them crashed and burned, never to return, is a bit of a stretch, unless you include those whose careers have tanked over the past 20 years, e.g., Coppola. _ The film neglects to mention that the architect of the auteur-smothering blockbuster was/is Steven Spielberg, who never seems to have had a nasty moment with anybody ... not the Easy Riders/Raging Bulls, and not the studios. There was some good dish, though, and on the whole it was worthwhile viewing.
I read the book EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS by Peter Biskind and was
amazed by it... If 'm honest I'm ashamed to say I rarely read for
pleasure and it's something that I do meen to put right but EASY
RIDERS, RAGING BULLS was an exception. Cliché's like "Couldn't put the
book down" spring to mind!
Anyway this was a good, interesting documentary based on the points brought up in Biskind's book!
As a documentary it's very standard but the sheer subject matter makes it a very good 110 minutes of viewing.
Shame some of the big names didn't agree to appear on this film... it would have been so much better!
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
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.
This is a great look at Hollywood in the 1960's and 1970's. If you hadn't already noticed, that was an era of great American films, and "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" tells you how and why. The interviews and narration are awesome, and I love seeing all those old movie posters and clips. There may be a few independent filmmakers missing from this piece, but it's impossible to cover them all in just 2 hours. Plus, the thesis of this film deals with the major studios and how talented YOUNG artists briefly took control and made cool movies with studio money. I only wish the industry was like that today.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
revolution of films from the mid'60s-late'70s... in the mid 60's,
during the peak of European cinema (with directors like- Bergman,
Fellini, Godard, Truffaut) Hollywood was on a downhill loosing its
artistic touch. big studios wanted to make same old movies and film
audiences wanted more realistic cinema.. after redemption of old
studios, then came a new wave of young filmmakers who defined the
Hollywood now. martin Scorsese, Francis ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg,
peter Bogdanovich, Hal Ashby, Dennis hopper, warren Beatty, were
practically just movie-nerds who wanted to talk about films all day and
and of course sex,drugs, rock n roll culture played a big part in this evolution too. movies like bonnie and Clyde, easy rider, the godfather, taxi driver, mean streets.
its a great documentary about, how few trend setting directors took control of film/Hollywood from studio-centralized oriented films, in their own hands. also early days of jack Nicholson and Robert De niro.
but once in 70's, these directors made blockbusters like godfather, jaws, star wars... studios figured out the way to make big money and now its all about just "big-budget-B-grade movies"
filmmakers in 60's were- you don't know how to make a film, i do, so let me do it ! and finally after 10 years studios were able to say- yes we do know how to make money, and u will make it for us !
The withering latter-end of 1960s cinema gave birth to a short-lived
area of mainstream artistic vision - the 1970s was a decade wherein
"the director was the star of the movie." I've never thought of it this
way, but as the documentary points out, it's a valid and poignant
summary of the time period.
This documentary - based on the best-selling book - offers an in-depth analysis of the film-making process of the 1970s... it starts out with "Easy Rider," from the late '60s, which became a huge box office success despite its profane content and extremely low budget.
The financial success of the movie seemed to spawn a new generation of artistic, low-budget films -- Scorsese and Coppola seemingly leading the revolution onwards.
Dennis Hopper would later fail with his semi-sequel to "The Last Picture Show" (as chronicled here) but other directors had success with their projects, attracting viewers despite the grungy themes of the films.
I've heard that cinema "died" in the 1970s, so far as that people had stopped going to see movies...without the influx of 1980s blockbusters, we might not have films today. I think that's rather a stretch.
If anything "Raging Bulls, Easy Riders" exaggerates the mild box office returns of the decade and tries to compensate for their low intake by citing critical praise for the films...all well and valid, when discussing the artistic merit...not financial gain.
I found this to be a rather enjoyable documentary, but I didn't learn anything I hadn't already known. It's got some good interviews, but they're not as insightful as they are amusing anecdotes.
If you are a film student, you could probably view a better and more in-depth summary of the decade; however, for novices, this is good starting ground.
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