A Decade Under the Influence Review

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Documentary about 1970s American cinema, with leading film-makers interviewed by their peers.


It's uncertain when the late Ted Demme and Richard LaGravenese began planning their reverential documentary on '70s American cinema, but they must have been miffed when Peter Biskind got there first with his tell-all book, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls - and even more pissed when Kenneth Bowser turned it into a similar doc.

Better than Bowser, but not as juicy as Biskind, all the big names - Peter Bogdanovich, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese - are here, interviewed by Demme and co-director Richard LaGravenese (the co-writer of The Fisher King), but most of the stories are very familiar by now. Still, what stories - anecdotes that repay endless revisiting. And if you get bored with the conveyor belt of talking heads, just revel in the clips of classics from a cinematic era that is still, arguably, unsurpassed.

With more official input than the sometimes erratic and erroneously-sourced Easy Riders..., this documentary is essential viewing for any student of cinema.