Friday, December 17, 2010

A Decade Under the Influence Reviews to Come



I saw the documentary "A Decade Under the Influence" (2003) several years ago and decided to watch it again. Unfortunately, I realized that the one hour tape I had recorded from tv was only one third of the entire story. Netflix to the rescue!

Now I've finally watched the entire story. And it's a GREAT story. The film is about the origins of the wonderful social commentary movies that were released between about 1969 and 1980. Since I grew up during the '70's with a film-loving mother, I saw a few of these films in the theater and many more when I became older, often due to my mother's recommendations. Movies made in this period—Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Godfather, Midnight Cowboy, Coal Miner's Daughter—just would not get made today. They're the opposite of escapism and don't involve glamourous movie stars. It wasn't about looks or money during that period, it was about expressing the cultural upheaval going on at the time (Vietnam War, Watergate, oil crisis, recession, women's rights, civil rights, etc.)

The studio system had just ended and this milestone unleashed some tremendous creativity and, more importantly, FEARLESS FILMMAKING! Which is the POLAR OPPOSITE of what we have now. FEAR OF FAILURE drives the American film industry. I'm guessing that's why actors ask for so much money up front; if the movie tanks, they want to get something out of it. But if the budgets were lower then the risk would be minimized thereby allowing more fearlessness.

Anyway, the documentary is divided into three sections. I'll talk about what I learned in each section in later posts.

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