Easy Riders, Raging Bulls Kenneth Bowser

In 1999, film critic Peter Biskind published his chronicle of the rise of the rebel in Hollywood, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. It was a fascinating chronicle of the collapse of the studio system in the early '60s and how a group of maverick directors (including Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin, Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese and Dennis Hopper) helped usher in an era of the film director as auteur — and subsequently, through their own excesses, destroyed it. It's a fascinating argument, albeit one that eventually turns in on itself; in fact, what destroyed this so-called "movement" wasn't just ego and blow, it was eaten from within by two of their own. Two members of the West coast film clique, Steven Spielberg (Jaws) and George Lucas (Star Wars), would in 1976 and '77 usher in the era of the big budget B-movie blockbuster and that would in fact be the true legacy of this time. Director Kenneth Bowser has swallowed Biskind's thesis whole and gathers a group of B-listers (Cybil Sheppard, Taxi Driver scribe Paul Schrader, Margot Kidder) to relay anecdotes that, in the book, came from the source, not in the second-hand relay featured here. While Bowser's film retains the advantage of actually seeing scenes from the films being discussed, it remains a superficial gloss over of the meat of Biskind's book. Included in this two-disc DVD (the original doc is from last year) is an hour-plus of further interviews, including criticisms that the book is more tawdry gossip than taut analysis. Curious then that in comparison to the movie, the book looks like the work of an obsessive cineaste. It's a fascinating period filled with larger-than-life personalities, almost none of whom appear on screen here. (John Milius doesn't count.) Read the book. (Shout Factory/Sony Music)