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Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System (P.S.) Paperback – January 3, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Instead of focusing primarily on Sundance and Miramax, Waxman focuses on the six men responsible for some of the biggest movies of the past decade: Quentin Tarantino ("Pulp Fiction"), P.T. Anderson ("Boogie Nights," "Magnolia"), Spike Jonze ("Being John Malkovich"), David O. Russell ("Three Kings"), David Fincher ("Fight Club") and Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic").
They're a mixed bag of personalities and Waxman tells their stories with detail and relish, and also touches on other interesting filmmakers such as Wes Anderson, Roger Avary, Charlie Kaufman, Alexander Payne and others (though some are conspicuously absent -- Spike Lee and especially Richard Linklater, who isn't even mentioned).
It's hard to miss with a collection of stories like this: Tarantino's rise to power; Hackman cursing Wes Anderson on the set of "Tenenbaums"; Avary's attempts to buy a famous French film studio; Russell headbutting George Clooney on the set of "Kings" and P.T. Anderson admitting that "Magnolia" was probably too long.
"Rebels" (very deliberately) rises to the same sordid, "print the legend" heights as Biskind's "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.Read more ›
On page 231: "Texas preppie-geek Wes Anderson had made his first movie, Rushmore, based on his experience in prep school, with an utter unknown in the lead, Jason Schwartzman." Wes Anderson's first film, of course, was Bottle Rocket, not Rushmore. And, yes, Jason Schwartzman had no previous film acting experience before Rushmore, but was hardly an "utter unknown" to the film world- his family (both the Schwartzmans and the Coppolas) had done a little bit of film work in their past, both in front of and behind the cameras. Even Waxman might have recognized the mother of this "utter unknown" from all of the Rocky movies.
Traffic star Erika Christensen is identified on page 321 as "Erika Christenssen" and, most howlingly, on page 101 as "Julia Stiles." Yes, the two actresses do look alike, but that's just absurd.
On page 266, describing the marketing of Fight Club, Waxman writes that "Fincher insisted the studio hire a cutting-edge advertising firm, Weiden + Kennedy, based in Seattle." Weiden + Kennedy are based in Portland, home of Nike, their biggest client. They have offices in Portland, New York, Amsterdam, London, Tokyo and Shanghai, but not in Seattle.
On page 194, Waxman describes the profound influence of Aimee Mann's music in the creation of Magnolia, both at the script level, and in the soundtrack.Read more ›
However, there's also a really shoddy first-draft feel to the book. The irony is Waxman is a New York Times writer, and the book is filled with passages that would embarrass the paper. Example- "The question of Tarantino's ability to write without the support of a partner became a real question over the years." Oy vey!
The factual errors also make me wonder how much of these stories I can take at face value. She briefly mentions Wes Anderson's first film, Bottle Rocket, early in the book and then later calls Rushmore his first film. She misidentifies Erika Christensen as Julia Stiles in Traffic. She reports that David Russell used a real corpse for a shot of a bullet entering a body in Three Kings when it's been reported widely that this story was a misunderstanding of a joke that Russell had made and a dummy was actually used. These are just the ones that I (not a film industry person) caught.
That said, I recommend it to wannabe film directors as a fun set of stories that may inspire you or may revulse you to the business altogether.
When the book ends, it almost feels you've just finished a piece of angel food cake. Light, fluffy and enjoyable all the way through but it won't change your life or anything when you stop and reflect upon it. What you will come away with is a little more of an understanding of these undeniably talented individuals. In fact, I'd go far as to say that Rebels on the Backlot is required reading for anyone with dreams of becoming a film maker, period.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the kind of book that any filmmaker or fan should read. Sharon Waxman balances eloquence with directness in chronicling of American cinemas golden eras. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Dave Watson, Editor, Movies Matter
Anyone with a dream better read this...if they want their dreams to come true.Published 19 months ago by Pearl Links
Some fact checking needed to be more thorough. Overall a good read.Published on July 6, 2014 by Garry Maher
Great inside dope, you really need to get this book, a great book with awesome inside info., makes a great gift too.Published on March 17, 2013 by Steven Francis
Yea OK there are some mistakes in the book. But I don't get the criticisms of the writing. It's journalism style -- not histrionic. Read morePublished on June 19, 2012 by Media Creator
I am currently reading this book and came on here because I spotted several errors in the text and wanted to see if anyone else had noticed this. Read morePublished on April 2, 2007 by Catherine
While, by my definition, the directors here can hardly be considered rebellious, in Hollywood terms they certainly are. All fought the Hollywood machine. Read morePublished on March 15, 2007 by Chris Hilton
Like several of the other reviewers I initially enjoyed the book and felt comfortable that the stories were coming from a credible reliable source. Read morePublished on February 7, 2007 by Matthew Rice