The collapse of the studio system was followed by the rise of the independents, and the late-60s to the early 70s saw what is sometimes termed the American Renaissance. This is the era thatsaw the rise to prominence of Dennis Hopper, Peter Bogdanovich, Francis Ford Coppola, MartinScorsese, and Sam Peckinpah, among other, along with, most fatefully, Steven Spielberg andGeorge Lucas. Based on the book of the same name, Kenneth Bowser’s film narrates the rise and(often drug-fu…lled) fall of these maverick directors, and ends with the definitive arrival of theblockbuster. The topic is huge — too big for an in-depth look at all the important figures in twohours. Though the narrative line gets a bit tangled in the early goings, and most of the big namesare not interviewed themselves, Bowser nonetheless does a credible job, and the interviews withsuch figures as Paul Schrader, Margot Kidder and Kris Kristofferson are endlesslyfascinating.
In many ways, rating the audio is beside the point with a disc of this kind. All the same, themusic (when there is any) is very much surround. Everything else, of course, is narration andinterviews, and the voices are perfectly clear and undistorted.
Again, rating picture quality is a bit silly here. Much of the footage is home movies and oldtrailers, and so the image can be extremely grainy and blurry, but that is not the fault of either thefilm or the transfer. The new footage — of Schrader and company recollecting the era — is verysharp and clear, with good flesh tones against a perfectly black background.
The only extra is, to all intents and purposes, another film. Disc 2 puts unused interviewfootage together into a 102-minute package. For the most part, this consists of memories aboutindividual directors. The most piquant moments come at the end, where the interviewees react(negatively) to Peter Briskind’s book, and then Brisking himself talks about writing the book anddealing with the reactions. The menu’s main page is animated and scored.
There is no way that a single documentary could fully and adequately cover thisextraordinary period in American film, one whose repercussions we are still experiencing. Thisis, however, an excellent introduction to the period.
Special Features List
- “More Sex ‘n’ Drugs ‘n’ Rock ‘n’ Roll” Bonus Interviews