Anyone who knows the films of the late Hal Ashby often finds it difficult to put into words exactly what it was that separated his work from that of other directors that rose to success in the 1970s. In many ways, his significance and influence as a filmmaker is best understood in the works of more contemporary directors who were deeply inspired and empowered by Ashby’s maverick nature and refusal to allow his work to be altered or influenced by anyone but those around him that he trusted and with whom he worked closely—and uncompromising nature that eventually came back to haunt him as the 1980s brought about an era where profits and accountants ruled the studios, while art took a back seat. Read More »
I like the fact that the band is still called Sonic Youth, even though they’re all in their 50s. Similarly, there’s the term New Hollywood, which represents a very specific time in which the studio bosses gave free reign to independent-minded, radical filmmakers looking to push the artistic boundaries of film. It is a cinema movement that came out guns blazing in 1967 with Bonnie and Clyde and suffered its first wound from Jaws in 1975, then sank into the mud under its own weight by 1977 with Sorcerer. (Yeah, that’s right, Roy Scheider represents the end of New Hollywood from both directions.)
But these movies still feel “new.”
These were films made by a generation influenced by European Art Cinema, reacting against big studio bloat and, in many cases, taking advantage of new technical advances. There are a hundred books you can read about this movement, and the safest bet it to check out Peter Biskin’s “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls” as a primer.
Like most people my age, New Hollywood is a sweet spot – and it was a real chore to limit myself to just eight underrepresented gems. My initial brainstorm had twenty-five titles that all fit the “obscure” and “great” parameters. Maybe I’ll revisit this column with a Volume II if there are calls for it in the comments. (The people have the power!)
Hats off to Twitter’s @MoviesByBowes for the suggestion. Read More »