Monday Movie: A Decade Under the Influence
There’s plenty to dislike about Ted Demme and Richard LaGravanese’s 2003 documentary, A Decade Under the Influence. It’s a superficial bit of rose-tinted myth-making about the glory days of Hollywood in the 1970s, replete with clips and talking heads that reinforce the thin, central thesis that these were the best years ever. Still, it’s a blast to enjoy. Those clips are pure candy for cineastes and the interviewees are a lively bunch that includes Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper and Julie Christie. Below the surface of these sunny remembrances, though, is a depressing account of how many factors had to converge in Hollywood and the nation in order to create this brief burst of creativity and freedom, and how very unlikely it is to ever happen again.
Often people talk about “New Hollywood” as if the studio system and its mentality had changed. Actually what happened was, that studios realized, they can make good money without spending millions on production, because people were into smaler movies. The motivation behind making these movies, at least from a studio perspective, was exactly the same as before. If indie movies made money nowadays, it would happen all over again.