An unabashed act of nostalgia, this film-buff documentary celebrates the movies of the 1970s as the pinnacle
of American cinema. Co-directors Richard
LaGravenese and Ted Demme bring a fan’s passion to the
subject, along with a fan’s narrow perspective. The
’70s have long been cited as a turning point for American movies, a time of independence from the studio system for filmmakers, stars and audiences. A Decade Under the Influence dutifully charts this cultural shift,
serving up seminal clips from ’70s classics and interviews with those who made them. The film’s main fault is that two pictures which loomed over the decade – 1975’s Jaws and 1977’s Star Wars – are almost completely avoided. What we’re left with is the same song about independent movies being the savior of the cinema and Hollywood hits being its Armageddon. Yet the truth is if Jaws launched 1,000 brainless blockbusters, Easy Rider easily inspired 1,000 inane indie efforts. True, money doesn’t guarantee quality, but neither does independence. A Decade Under the Influence has no room in its history for a notion such as that.