The problems with both ADUTI and the similar doc EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS are: they are generally fawning in tone; they play fast-and-loose with the truth by presenting only selected bits of film history; and - most importantly - they attempt to explain the zeitgeist of the 70s by restricting their view only to movies, when movies are (and have always been) a milk container in the cultural icebox...taking the flavor of whatever's sitting next to it. The 'counterculture', or 'new aesthetic' (or however you want to phrase it) lasted longer and more meaningfully in other media (music, art, fiction) where there was substantially less money being invested. I love many late 60s/70s films...in fact, that whole era is genuinely fascinating...but 'explaining', or just examining in depth, that window in time is more properly the domain of a Ken Burns-length documentary series. (You'd need 10-15 hours just to take in the full view.) And blaming everything that didn't work or fell apart on either drugs, JAWS, STAR WARS, or all three, is as pat and false as showing a married couple sleeping in twin beds during the heyday of the Production Code. For instance, Bogdanovich is trotted out like a High Lama of Personal Cinema but the audience never gets the sense of how his lousy old-Hollywood imitations like AT LONG LAST LOVE and NICKELODEON catastrophically imploded his career, right in the middle of that halcyon decade (and STAR WARS didn't have a blessed thing to do with it). We get clips from DIRTY HARRY and MAGNUM FORCE, as if Eastwood's proto-fascist genuflections before Ruthless Authority were somehow considered hip and edgy by the intelligentsia of the decade, when they were uniformly bemoaned and despised. We get many cloud-cuckooland memories intimating that 70s cinema reflected the audience's desire for meatier, more challenging fare, when nothing could have been further from the truth (the top box-office stars for much of the decade were not Dustin Hoffman or Robert DeNiro but Eastwood, Burt Reynolds and Charles Bronson). The biggest hits of the 70s were all spun off the AIP model, not the Truffaut/Godard model: sensation ruled the day, then as now. People stood on long lines stretching several times around city blocks to see THE GODFATHER or SERPICO because - as a Roger Corman ad campaign might have phrased it - they "rip the lid off today's shocking headlines!!" It's one thing to say that Hal Ashby and Francis Coppola made terrific films (they did indeed); it's another to claim that they made films during a golden time when the audience was, for once, on the side of the Artists. That time has never existed. Before JAWS, before STAR WARS, folks were packing theaters for DEATH WISH, BILLY JACK and THE EXORCIST - and not because they were diehard Cahiers du Cinema subscribers. And what is not even touched upon is the long-term effect of the heightened gory violence of 70s films. We hear auteur after auteur hiding behind that sad old trope of "in order to show people the HORROR of violence, we had to truly show the EFFECTS of violence". Gee, thanks, Teacher....I'd've never dreamed that getting shot in the head might actually hurt, otherwise. Too bad the nonstop,desensitizing, rolling-snowball-momentum of all those squibs and open wounds is with us still, and it is almost 100% due to the movies of the 1970s. Coppola's triumphs may be a thing of the past - but Moe Green getting shot point-blank in the eye is forever. Scorsese has run out of heartfelt Little Italy stories to tell us, but he's still 'teaching' us how it might feel to have your eye forced out of its socket by having your head squeezed in a vise, or simply how liberating & invigorating it is to be turning that vise on behalf of the Mafia. I recall a 70s-era Pauline Kael column called "Fear of Movies" where she chided the audience for being prim, prudish wussies afraid to viscerally experience the primal excitement of violent films; a year or two later, she was fretting over the increasing 'brutality' of mass-entertainment. Way to chart cause and effect, Pauline! Sorry. But if you're going to celebrate the films of the 1970s, you have to shine a little light on the warts and moles under the makeup too...or you end up with a puff-piece. Which is the case here, good intentions notwithstanding.
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