|by Matthew Bartley
There is probably no era of film that has been covered as much as the 1970's. From documentaries to memoirs, to Biskind's 'Easy Riders, Raging Bulls', there is seemingly no more to say on the matter. Ryan Gilbey however, takes a different view on the matter and approaches it from the point of view of someone that wasn't there at the time, but loves the era anyway. The result is a slight, but impressive piece of work.
Gilbey has obviously read 'Easy Riders, Raging Bulls' and takes a different approach to the era. Whereas that book focused on the scandal, the drugs and the fighting to the extent that it became a little light on the actual analysis of the films themselves, Gilbey seeks to rectify that problem. Those seeking scandal should look elsewhere, a Gilbey divides his book into ten chapters, one for each of the ten best directors of the decade and discusses just why they're so important.
And that's where the fighting starts - who to put in and who not to. Few would disagree with the inclusion of Spielberg and Scorcese, but there are those who certainly would sneer at the inclusion of Altman or De Palma here, and ask instead where are the works of Ashby or Cassavetes. And while there may a dash of truth to Gilbey's stark assertion that he's not including William Friedkin because he happened to be lucky enough to be in the right place - twice, it's more difficult to justify his inclusion of Jonathan Demme. But that's the beauty of the book - give it to a bunch of rabid film fans and watch the arguments begin.
And Gilbey certainly makes brave choices in his analysis. It's refreshing to see a film critic give 'Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore' and 'New York, New York', the same kind of analysis and importance usually only afforded to 'Taxi Driver' and 'Mean Streets'. And his criticism of 'Star Wars' is also refreshing. He's not someone to damn the film for destroying cinema (because it didn't), but he will point out the obvious flaws in it, while praising 'American Graffiti' and 'THX 1138'.
Gilbey doesn't approach the book with a snooty 'I was there, so I know best attitude', but with a genuine love and affection for the decade. This means that we have a critic not afraid to put Woody Allen up there with Spielberg and Kubrick (for some reason, Allen always tends to get neglected in similiar books). Gilbey has no prejudices here, just a passion for film.
So although it lacks the breadth and depth to be anywhere near an exhaustive account of 70's cinema, it can take it's place as a companion to 'Easy Riders, Raging Bulls' with pride.
link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=1544
originally posted: 07/06/05 10:24:03
last updated: 07/09/05 10:32:37