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Down and Dirty Pictures

by Peter Biskind

It wasn't so long ago that the Sundance Film Festival was an inconsequential event somewhere in Utah, and Miramax was a tiny distributor of music documentaries and soft-core trash. Today, of course, Sundance is the most important film festival this side of Cannes, and Miramax has become an industry giant, part of the huge Disney empire. Likewise, the directors who emerged from the independent movement, such as Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, and David O. Russell -- who once had to max out their credit cards to realize their visions on the screen -- are now among the best-known directors in Hollywood. Not to mention the actors who emerged with them, like Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Ethan Hawke, and Uma Thurman. Down and Dirty Pictures chronicles the rise of independent filmmakers and of the twin engines -- Sundance and Miramax -- that have powered them. As he did in his acclaimed Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind profiles the people who took the independent movement from obscurity to the Oscars, most notably Sundance founder Robert Redford and Harvey Weinstein, who with his brother, Bob, made Miramax an indie powerhouse. Biskind follows Sundance as it grew from a regional film festival to the premier showcase of independent film, succeeding almost despite the mercurial Redford, whose visionary plans were nearly thwarted by his own quixotic personality. He charts in fascinating detail the meteoric rise of the controversial Harvey Weinstein, often described as the last mogul, who created an Oscar factory that became the envy of the studios, while leaving a trail of carnage in his wake. As in Easy Riders, Biskind's incisive account is loaded with vibrant anecdotes and outrageous stories, all of it blended into a fast-moving narrative. Redford, the Weinsteins, and the directors, producers, and actors Biskind profiles are the people who reinvented Hollywood, making independent films mainstream. But success invariably means compromise, and it remains to be seen whether the indie spirit can survive its corporate embrace. Candid, mesmerizing, and penetrating, Down and Dirty Pictures is a must-read for anyone interested in the film world and where it's headed.

Easy Riders Raging Bulls

by Peter Biskind

When the low-budget biker movie Easy Rider shocked Hollywood with its success in 1969, a new Hollywood era was born. This was an age when talented young filmmakers such as Scorsese, Coppola, and Spielberg, along with a new breed of actors, including De Niro, Pacino, and Nicholson, became the powerful figures who would make such modern classics as The Godfather, Chinatown, Taxi Driver, and Jaws. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls follows the wild ride that was Hollywood in the '70s -- an unabashed celebration of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll (both onscreen and off) and a climate where innovation and experimentation reigned supreme. Based on hundreds of interviews with the directors themselves, producers, stars, agents, writers, studio executives, spouses, and ex-spouses, this is the full, candid story of Hollywood's last golden age. MARTIN SCORSESE ON DRUGS: "I did a lot of drugs because I wanted to do a lot, I wanted to push all the way to the very very end, and see if I could die." DENNIS HOPPER ON EASY RIDER: "The cocaine problem in the United States is really because of me. There was no cocaine before Easy Rider on the street. After Easy Rider, it was everywhere." GEORGE LUCAS ON STAR WARS: "Popcorn pictures have always ruled. Why do people go see them? Why is the public so stupid? That's not my fault."

Star

by Peter Biskind

In this compulsively readable and constantly surprising book, Peter Biskind, the author of the film classics Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and Down and Dirty Pictures, writes the most intimate, revealing, and balanced biography ever of Hollywood legend Warren Beatty. Famously a playboy, Beatty has also been one of the most ambitious and successful stars in Hollywood. Several Beatty films have passed the test of time, from Bonnie and Clyde to Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait, Reds (for which he won the best director Oscar), Bugsy, and Bulworth. Few filmgoers realize that along with Orson Welles, Beatty is the only person ever nominated for four Academy Awards for a single film -- and unlike Welles, Beatty did it twice. Biskind shows how Beatty used star power, commercial success, savvy, and charm to bend Hollywood moguls to his will. Beatty's private life has been the subject of gossip for decades, and Star confirms his status as Hollywood's leading man in the bedroom, describing his affairs with Joan Collins, Natalie Wood, Leslie Caron and Madonna, among many others. Biskind explains how Beatty exercised unique control, often hiring screenwriters out of his own pocket, producing, directing, and acting in his own films. He was arguably one of the most successful and creative figures in Hollywood during the second half of the twentieth century, and in this fascinating biography, Warren Beatty comes to life -- complete with excesses and achievements -- as never before.

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