Down and Dirty Pictures by Peter Biskind
Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Fil

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Peter Biskind

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Peter Biskind is the author of three previous books, including Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'n' Roll Generation saved Hollywood. He is a contributor to Vanity Fair and was formerly the executive editor of Premiere magazine. He lives with his family in Columbia County, New York.
 
Published January 8, 2013 by Simon & Schuster. 560 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography, Business & Economics, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Down and Dirty Pictures

Publishers Weekly

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According to Biskind (Easy Riders, Raging Bulls ), most people associate independent filmmaking with such noble concepts as integrity, vision and self-sacrifice.

Jan 05 2004 | Read Full Review of Down and Dirty Pictures: Mira...

BC Books

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If you have any interest in Hollywood, movies, independent film making, or just about the entertainment biz in general, this book is a must-read. Peter Biskind is the author of Easy Riders, Raging ...

Sep 23 2005 | Read Full Review of Down and Dirty Pictures: Mira...

AV Club

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Anyone who even casually follows the movie business has probably heard plenty about Harvey Weinstein, the famously temperamental head of Miramax,...

Feb 17 2004 | Read Full Review of Down and Dirty Pictures: Mira...

AV Club

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Anyone who even casually follows the movie business has probably heard plenty about Harvey Weinstein, the famously temperamental head of Miramax,...

Feb 17 2004 | Read Full Review of Down and Dirty Pictures: Mira...

Entertainment Weekly

The book's one glaring flaw is that Biskind grows so obsessed with Weinstein that he spends too much time dissecting clunkers like ''Mimic'' and ''Wide Awake'' and not nearly enough giving us the inside story on ''Boogie Nights,'' ''I Shot Andy Warhol,'' ''Requiem for a Dream,'' ''The Blair Witch...

Jan 16 2004 | Read Full Review of Down and Dirty Pictures: Mira...

Bookmarks Magazine

In this expose of the rise of the indie film industry, Biskind shows how, starting with Steven Soderbergh's 1989 "Sex, Lies and Videotape" and continuing with "Cinema Paradiso," "Good Will Hunting," and "Chicago," Hollywood studios co-opted the indie business.

Oct 29 2009 | Read Full Review of Down and Dirty Pictures: Mira...

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