[Prime] Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film Author Peter Biskind – Andy-palmer.co.uk


Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film Enjoyed it Apparently nobody read it over the past 20 years or else they would have been onto Harvey much earlier I lived through the Golden age of the indies and it was pretty amazing To be think we ll never see have that again is kind of sad. Written years ago before all of the current Hollywood scandals One has to wonder why people like Streep and others didn t speak up earlier when they apparently knew about Weinstein This is the third Biskind book I have read The first I picked up was his famous Easy Riders, Raging Bulls Enjoying it so much, I purchased this book as well as Seeing is Believing, his book about the 50s Seeing is Believing was a big letdown, as my review for the book demonstrates It was with trepidation that I picked up Down and Dirty Pictures, but I was happy to see Biskind was sticking with his Easy Riders formula.Using Sundance and Miramax as his focal point, Biskind explores the so called independent film movement from the late 1980s until around 2002 I say so called independent film because Biskind pretty well demonstrates that by the mid 1990s most of what was hyped as independent film was being driven by studio divisions dedicated to them I have no doubt true independent film still exists, but once Miramax shifted from acquisitions to production and studios began buying up companies like Miramax, folks with their own cameras and a few friends seem less likely to get distribution agreements.Biskind seems to have done extensive interviewing, though he acknowledges in the preface that he had access to the Weinsteins, the top men at Miramax, but had much limited access to the folks at Sundance, including Robert Redford As a result, the book deals extensively with Miramax than Sundance At times, it can become a little gossipy but those stories do a good job of demonstrating the personalities of the business and some of its harsh financial realities.If you read this book, you will walk away with a good understanding of the economics of the business, especially in the 1990s You will also end up with a list of movies to add to your netflix list or to pick up at blockbuster.Of course, the book ends just before the Weinsteins split from Miramax their baby from the start, named after their parents Miriam and Max and started a new production company Still, it encapsulates a moment in time where the Sundance Film Festival and Miramax exploded into the film industry and helped drive tremendous creative output that for the first time, reached an audience outside of Park City, Los Angeles, and New York. This book is a Dr Jekyll Mr Hyde It is a very good example of investigative journalism and also an example of poor editing Please don t include everything you learned Maybe he needed Harvey Weinstein to edit the book What is good is a very detailed perhaps too much so look at the evolution of independent films from Sex, Lies, Videotapes to the current state of independent films approaching the Hollywood route There is no question he did exhaustive research and while he has been criticized for doing a hatchet job on Miramax and Redford, there are too many stories with the same theme for the portrait painted to not be substantially correct IMO If you are a fan of film, whether you are a casual weekend fan of Hollywood fare or a student of serious film, there is something here for you But generally this will be of interest if you enjoy following the business side of films and how the personalities affect this However, the book also does a great job overlaying the careers of Steve Soderberg, Quentin Tarantino and Damon Affleck in enough detail for the fans of stars The Damon Affleck section is particularly interesting as it showed two kids viewed as actors making a conscious effort to tap into the indie craze to get their break in the business In many respects it s like the old Stallone Rocky story of having the screenplay and forcing Hollywood to use the author as the star.Now for the negative His earlier book Easy Rider Raging Bull covered the 70s film explosion in great depth It appears he was trying to recreate the magic in this book While the evolution of independent films is a worthwhile subject, what he ended up with is a book about Miramax with brief interludes about other stories that can almost be distractive Just look at the title where he tries to throw too much explanation To me, this is an unauthorized biography of Miramax That s OK There s plenty to cover there and he did it quite well But to continue the charade by occasionally throwing in visits to the mess Sundance just distracts the reader Maybe he thought it would help sell books by throwing some dirt on Redford.This book is a real commitment It is long, detailed reading that takes time But the payoff is worth it It easy to see while you are reading that there will be many upset executives and I doubt he will have as much access if he makes another attempt at a Hollywood subject Overall, I recommend this book for serious readers of Hollywood or the business of Hollywood I am re reading this one Especially in the light of newer sexual revelations, the Harvey Weinstein sections are seen in a new light I wish Biskind had been privy to the real details on his harassment of so many young actresses This book is well written and worth a read, be it for the first or second time. In the late 1980s, a generation of filmmakers inspired by the directors of the 1970s began to flower outside the studio system In the following decade, the independent movement bloomed Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino, and dozens of lesser known filmmakers began walking away with prizes at Cannes and eventually at the Academy Awards Many of these directors were discovered at Robert Redford s Sundance film festival and were scooped up by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, whose company, Miramax, laid waste to the competition In Down and Dirty Pictures , Peter Biskind tells the story of the filmmakers and the independent distributors who revitalized Hollywood over the past decade He follows the growth of Sundance from a regional film festival to the premier showcase of independent film that it became, showing how it succeeded almost despite Redford, whose visionary plans were often thwarted by his quixotic personality He charts the meteoric rise of the controversial Harvey Weinstein, often described as the last mogul who, with his brother, left a trail of carnage in his wake, yet created an Oscar factory that is the envy of the studios Candid and penetrating, Down and Dirty Pictures is a must read for anyone interested in the film world and where it s headed.

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