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on 28 September 2004
I had already read Easy Riders Raging Bulls and, while it was a fantastic read, many of the movies were before my time. I had seen many of the films, but had not experienced the era in which they were made and first released.
This book brings movie history up to date with the increasing commercialisation of indie cinema, the impact of Miramax, Tarantino - the cinema of the 80s, 90s, up until now. This is the history of the cinema of our era - all of the gossip behind our celluloid pop culture. The hardcover version of this book is beautiful and very heavy - you feel you are getting your money's worth both in weight and in readability. Buy one for yourself, then one for everyone else for Christmas.

Criminal
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on 11 January 2005
This is a sort of 'sequel' to Biskind's seminal (and gossipy) book Easy Riders and Raging Bulls, about the maverick filmmakers of the 70s.
Where Easy Riders was salacious in its stories and anecdotes of Hollywood's new breed of talent, Down and Dirty focuses more on the emerging independent generation of filmmakers, starting with low budget films such as Clerks, Sex Lies and Videotape and Reservoir Dogs, allied with Robert Redford's emerging Sundance Film Festival.
The gossip of Easy Riders is replaced by stories of ingenious marketing, credit card filmmaking and sleeper hits. Soderbergh, Smith and Tarantino are the star directors, Weinstein and Redford are the ones who made it happen.
While still enjoyable, there's much less scandal in this one - although the various stories of Harvey Weinstein's outrageous temper and backstabbing more than makes up for it. Recommended.
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on 25 November 2005
In my opinion Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is the best book ever written about film and while this book never quite matches it, it is a very good book in its own right. It tackles the rise (and in Biskind’s view fall) of independent film making concentrating on Robert Redford (and the Sundance festival); Harvey and Bob Weinstein (and their company Mirimax) along with a host of film makers and actors including Quentin Tarantino, Stephen Soderbergh, Kevin Smith, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and many others along the way.
Told in much the same style as Easy Riders, Raging Bulls it is a wild mixture of serious comment and salacious gossip. Biskind writes beautifully, handling another huge topic with an enormous cast of characters deftly. He is assisted by the fact that many of the players and the films are already well-known to the reader but he has a wonderful talent for the one-line character profile (often a one-line character assassination) and he chooses his quotes well.
It is evitable given his larger than life personality and aggressive business practices that Harvey Weinstein comes to dominate the book in much the same way as the Weinstein brothers have dominated the independent film business. Harvey Weinstein is a fascinating although in many ways deeply repellent character – very aggressive, prone to outbursts of rage, guilty of some very dubious business practices, a man who will shaft someone just because he can – however he is responsible for some of the best films of recent years and at least he loves movies (unlike some of his competitors). In Biskind’s view he made the independent film business. Taking it out of its niche and finding a much wider audience but he is also responsible for corrupting it; as Mirimax increasingly became a studio with a more conservative attitude, eschewing rather than courting controversy, and an ever increasing reliance on stars. This has made life much more difficult for genuine independent film makers like John Sayles and Spike Lee who find it very difficult to get funding.
Absolutely fascinating, particularly if you are familiar with the films of the period (or if you want to be reassured that you do not have the worst boss in the world).
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on 24 January 2011
Just a brilliant insight into modern distribution, film studios, back-stabbing deals and huge egos. A must read for any independent filmmaker and anyone interested in movies. Someone bought this for me and said "bet you can't put it down," and although it starts slowly as soon as Harvey Weinstein makes his entrance, the Helter-skelter nature of events that follows is compelling and very, very addictive. I liked Easy Riders and Raging Bulls, but I loved Down and Dirty Pictures, the fact that it goes through the behind the scenes deals about Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Sex Lies and Videotape, Good Will Hunting and a whole host of films in everyone's recent memories seemed to strike a deeper cord. Strongly recommended.
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Whilst somewhat lacking in the outrageousness and salacious detail of his previous book, 'Easy Riders, Raging Bulls', this is a more than worthy follow-up. It details the rise and fall of 'indie movies', movies made outside of the studio system, often by unknown or first-time directors. Many of these movies were championed and sold at the Sundance Film Festival, which was initially set up to give these directors a pulpit and a place for their movies to be seen and sold. And many were bought by Harvey and Bob Weinstein's Miramix.

This book is really about these two organisations, Sundance and Miramax, and their role in first creating an atmosphere where indies filmmakers could flourish, and later, pressuring those same filmmakers into 'going commercial'. For many directors, their first movie was the only true 'indie' movie in their filmography, because once they'd had that first score, once they'd had a film hit the big time and their name become known, there was intense pressure on them to then make something big, something commercial, something that could draw on that cachet and make mega-bucks.

Slowly but surely, Sundance became a place for the studios to find the next big thing, and the indie world became almost a 'farm' for talent. In effect, Sundance sold out, betrayed what it was originally set up to nurture and protect. And Miramax moved away from the movies it had made its name with, edgy, daring, sexy movies like Pulp Fiction, and became just another studio, all the more so after it was bought out by Disney.
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I'm one of those who came of age in the `90s and who loves film, remembering all the great films that that decade produced is great fun as well as finding out how they came about from the mouths of the filmmakers themselves. That said, I loved the book but it goes further than talking about the directors and actors, to the guys who held the purse-strings and the exposure, namely the Weinstein brothers, Harvey and Bob, who created Miramax and Dimension, and Robert Redford, the movie star who founded the Sundance Film Festival.

You read about the Weinsteins' humble beginnings as concert promoters onto small films released on tape, and then small pictures released widely to garner a small profit. From there they go large, getting more pictures, some of which gain success enabling them to seem attractive to a massive corporation like Disney who then buys them and gives them the financial clout to corner the market on low budget films. Redford starts Sundance which then grows, after the initial few years, into a recognisable entity and then comes to be regarded as the place to have your film shown at, given how guys like the Weinsteins go there to buy films.

The Weinsteins themselves come across as monsters. Both screaming and abusing staffers, making them wait hours for meetings, docking pay, threatening them, throwing furniture. They really seem like bipolar ogres smashing around to get what they want. Redford comes across as a control freak who is unable to make decisions and thus contributes greatly to the Sundance brand failing to become as mainstream as he had hoped.

Contributions are from many recognisable faces, from the superstar directors Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee and Kevin Smith to actors Edward Norton, Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Even Harvey Weinstein agrees to contribute to the book (Redford declines as he holds grudges). Biskind uses these to create a vivid and compelling portrait of the `90s throughout. While some might say the narrative is repetitive (Weinstein doesn't change nor does Redford and the anecdotes rarely differ - Redford bumbling about, Weinstein screaming foaming at the mouth) I found it too interesting and could easily have kept reading until the present day (it stops at 2003).

I loved it, as a fan of good writing and a fan of film, it's a fantastic read and utterly great fun. Here's hoping Biskind does a follow up of the `00s.
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I'm one of those who came of age in the `90s and who loves film, remembering all the great films that that decade produced is great fun as well as finding out how they came about from the mouths of the filmmakers themselves. That said, I loved the book but it goes further than talking about the directors and actors, to the guys who held the purse-strings and the exposure, namely the Weinstein brothers, Harvey and Bob, who created Miramax and Dimension, and Robert Redford, the movie star who founded the Sundance Film Festival.

You read about the Weinsteins' humble beginnings as concert promoters onto small films released on tape, and then small pictures released widely to garner a small profit. From there they go large, getting more pictures, some of which gain success enabling them to seem attractive to a massive corporation like Disney who then buys them and gives them the financial clout to corner the market on low budget films. Redford starts Sundance which then grows, after the initial few years, into a recognisable entity and then comes to be regarded as the place to have your film shown at, given how guys like the Weinsteins go there to buy films.

The Weinsteins themselves come across as monsters. Both screaming and abusing staffers, making them wait hours for meetings, docking pay, threatening them, throwing furniture. They really seem like bipolar ogres smashing around to get what they want. Redford comes across as a control freak who is unable to make decisions and thus contributes greatly to the Sundance brand failing to become as mainstream as he had hoped.

Contributions are from many recognisable faces, from the superstar directors Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee and Kevin Smith to actors Edward Norton, Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Even Harvey Weinstein agrees to contribute to the book (Redford declines as he holds grudges). Biskind uses these to create a vivid and compelling portrait of the `90s throughout. While some might say the narrative is repetitive (Weinstein doesn't change nor does Redford and the anecdotes rarely differ - Redford bumbling about, Weinstein screaming foaming at the mouth) I found it too interesting and could easily have kept reading until the present day (it stops at 2003).

I loved it, as a fan of good writing and a fan of film, it's a fantastic read and utterly great fun. Here's hoping Biskind does a follow up of the `00s.
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Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, and a contributor to Vanity Fair, has penned the tell-all to end all tell-alls about Tinseltown. With reportorial zeal he traces the rise of independent (indies) films beginning roughly with the 1990s. His focus is on the Sundance Institute and Miramax Films, the sires of the indies.
Harvey Weinstein, it will come as a surprise to few, is presented as a brash, egotistical bully (those are kind adjectives). Along with his brother, Bob, he rose from a concert promoter in Queens to one of Hollywood's most powerful - Miramax is now a major force giving birth to many Oscar nominated films.
In the author's words both Weinsteins "had volcanic tempers. They were wizards of abuse, excelling in the exotic art of public humiliation, lashing staffers in front of their peers."
Robert Redford, the founder of Sundance, also receives attention. He, as described by Biskin, is a control freak who "who was not in a position to run the institute himself, but neither, it seemed, was he able to let anyone else run it." Alas ladies, our handsome matinee idol does have chinks in his armor.
"Down and Dirty Pictures" in addition to being a superbly detailed history of the rise of the indies is also a spicy gossip laced read with celebrity quotes from Matt Damon to Uma Thurman to Anthony Minghella. It's sometimes hilarious, sometimes sobering; it is always fascinating reading.
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on 17 August 2013
As a fan of 90s independent cinema, this book was an eye-opener. Having previously read John Pierson's 'Spike, Mike, Slackers and Dykes', Biskind's book offered an alternative look at a purple patch for American independent cinema. As in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Biskind does tend to be a bit 'gossipy' which can hamper an otherwise entertaining and educational read.
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on 1 July 2013
item arrived promptly and in excellent condition.

an eye opener of a sequel to easy riders, raging bulls. well worth a read.
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