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'A Decade Under the Influence' DVD Review **** 062705
The Work = ****
Most of the filmmakers that are absent from the interviews are talked about by those that are present. Throughout the film there are stills and film clips interspersed with the interviews. 'A Decade Under the Influence' touches on many key films in the evolution and eventually, downfall of the renegade movement of films in the 70s. It is a glamorized portrait to be sure, largely because it is relying on the filmmakers themselves to shape the narrative.
There is a lot to like here. It is neat to hear filmmakers like Coppola and Eastwood talk about their influences. I loved hearing Dennis Hopper talk about getting to watch John Cassavetes direct a film. He talked about how Cassavetes would just hand the camera to someone if they thought they could make a better shot. The result would be people who had never held a camera before would be filming scenes in his movies.
If there is something glaring that is missed in 'A Decade Under the Influence' it is the discussion of the movement of black filmmakers in cinema. It is only briefly mentioned with an all too short interview with Pam Grier. The eighties may have caused a stop to the wave of new filmmakers that had dominated the seventies but it downright caused a lot of black filmmakers to go without roles. It is a shame that there wasn’t a bit more discussion.
Still the film works and the interviews that it does have are great. I would say that a good companion film that I believe is also from Docurama would be the documentary on black cinema in the seventies called 'Baadasssss Cinema'. There is brief text statement at the end of 'A Decade Under the Influence' acknowledging that there may be filmmakers that were missed in the documentary and they encourage viewers to check them and the ones present in the film out.
As a closing note I need to mention that the film ends on a rather emotional beat. Co director Demme sadly passed away during the production. Coppola gives a heartfelt statement about his passing. Demme was a director that seemed like he might be on the verge of breaking out into a more recognizable status and his passing left behind a very young daughter. An emotional ending to the well made documentary.
DVD = ***
All Together = ****
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