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A Decade Under the Influence

1 rating: 3.0
A movie directed by Ted Demme

Examining the 1970s, the decade that has come to be seen as North American cinema's most revolutionary and experimental, this reverent documentary directed by Richard LaGravenese and the late Ted Demme interviews a handful of the key players and … see full wiki

Genre: Drama
Release Date: April 25, 2003
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about A Decade Under the Influence

A Decade Under The Influence - 2003

  • Jan 4, 2006
Pros: great interviews, interesting background information

Cons: none offhand

The Bottom Line: "Sad, small, sweet, so delicate
We used to be this dying breed
I got a bad feeling about this "
~ Taking Back Sunday

If you’ve ever wondered what inspired directors to do what they do, where they got their ideas, or who their muse was, then A Decade Under The Influence is definitely the movie for you. During its 138 minute run time, you are introduced to a myriad of directors, producers, stars, sound men, camera men, and even some not so glorious people.

Directors Richard LaGravenese and Ted Demme [it was Demme’s last movie before passing from a drug overdose] sat down with people they obviously had great admiration for and questioned them about their knowledge and how they got into the business.

The decade under scrutiny is the 70s, where all manner of movies and productions changed the course of history in filmdom. No longer ’under contract’ to studios, actors/esses struck out on their own and investigated all those things that had been refused to them before. Most importantly, a good deal of these legends got into the powerful business of directing.

Bored with the make-believe world of the prior movies, film goers wanted something they could identify with, something that reflected the lives they were really leading. For the most part, not everyone lived in a world that smelled of fresh baked cookies , picket fences, and 2.3 children. Most people worked for a living, stood in lines, bought their cookies at the corner grocery and peeked over the fences. People wanted real life situations, and the directors and actors in this new 70s life were more than willing to provide it for them.

Most of the interviews were done live and some of the language was pretty straight forward. The rest of the interview work was from archival footage.

Many of the people were influenced by foreign directors and it reflected in their work. Some took what they viewed from those directors and expanded on it. Everyone involved, down to the lowest gaffer, was willing to, and strived for, that extra something that would bring the paying public to the theater to view their film.

Questioning by LaGravenese and Demme did not overpower the film. In fact, you had to really listen to even hear them speak. For the most part, at least in my opinion, they deleted that segment, or edited it out, and left simply the person being questioned. Segments blended nicely and the camera work was decent. It was a docudrama, so sets weren’t pristine or made up. Mostly it was someone sitting in a chair or across a desk, talking to the camera. While that may seem a little contrived, it was more like you, the watcher, were talking to the person, not someone else conducting the interview.

A Decade Under The Influence was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Nonfiction Special and the Grand Jury Prize from Sundance. It received the William K. Everson Film History Award from the National Board of Review.

It carries an R rating for language, sexuality and drug use. The extras include additional interviews with Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, Sidney Lumet and Roy Scheider.

Appearing on the film, either live or archival, were:

Robert Altman, John G. Avildsen, Warren Beatty (archive footage), Linda Blair (archive footage), Peter Bogdanovich, Peter Boyle (archive footage), Marshall Brickman, Ellen Burstyn., John Calley, Jimmy Carter (archive footage), John Cassavetes (archive footage), Julie Christie, Francis Ford Coppola, Roger Corman, Bruce Dern, Clint Eastwood, Louise Fletcher (archive footage), Jane Fonda (archive footage), Peter Fonda (archive footage), Milos Forman, William Friedkin, Pam Grier, Goldie Hawn (archive footage), Monte Hellman, Jimi Hendrix (archive footage), Dennis Hopper, Mick Jagger (archive footage), Robert F. Kennedy (archive footage), Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (archive footage), Martin Luther King (archive footage), Piper Laurie (archive footage), Sidney Lumet, Paul Mazursky, Marshall McLuhan (archive footage), Mike Medavoy, Richard Nixon (archive footage), Polly Platt, Sydney Pollack, Ronald Reagan (archive footage), Robert Redford (Archival Footage), Dick Rodstein, Jerry Schatzberg, Roy Scheider, Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese, Sissy Spacek, Robert Towne, Jon Voight.

Any fan of filmmaking would enjoy this piece. It is a rare look inside those people that chose to make our lives different, chose to make our worlds more expanded, and what made them choose the profession they did.



Viewing Format: DVD
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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