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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
narrator: William H. Macy

writer and director: Kenneth Bowser

115 minutes (15) 2003
widescreen ratio 16:9
Metrodome DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Steven Hampton
Based on the book by Peter Biskind, this fascinating documentary is an anecdotal chronicle of the subversive careers and wild lifestyles of Hollywood's "movie brats" in the late 1960s and 1970s. Although the book and this film are ultimately rather downbeat in their overall view of the amazingly innovative, often sensational, era and preoccupied - if not necessarily obsessed - with discovering raw secrets about celebrity drug abuse, the film version of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls offers a worthwhile couple of hours viewing for anyone seriously interested in American movies.
   As with other movie histories of the period, it starts with Roger Corman's alternative 'film school', exploitation cinema and drive-in genre flicks, but after the release of Arthur Penn's landmark Bonnie And Clyde (1967), the emphasis shifts towards how much European cinema's New Wave influenced and inspired a generation of volatile independent filmmakers to pursue greater artistic (sometimes autocratic) freedom in Los Angeles, California, which was entirely at odds with the ingrained cultural dictates of a troubled studio system's relatively clueless moneymen. And so, the seminal biker movie, Easy Rider and the violent allegory, The Wild Bunch (both 1969) gave rise to the horror of The Exorcist (1973), resulting (perhaps) in a climate of possibility where a creative group of apparently 'egomaniac' auteurs on the west coast produced and/or directed such disparate but undeniably classic or cult films as The Sting (1973), Chinatown (1974), Jaws (1975), and Taxi Driver (1976). Then, Star Wars (1977) changed everything yet again, ushering in the age of the 'event movie' blockbuster.
   Easy Riders, Raging Bulls tells a convoluted but intriguing tale of womanising and broken marriages, with survivors of the cocaine and booze crucible - like Paul Schrader, Cybill Shepherd, Margot Kidder, Dennis Hopper, Martin Scorsese, and Peter Bogdanovich only just seeming to outnumber the casualties and tragedies such as Hal Ashby, Sam Peckinpah, and producer Julia Phillips.
   DVD extras: approx 90 minutes worth of deleted scenes and extra footage, that includes chapters on the critics, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and an interview with author Biskind.

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