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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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From Publishers Weekly
New York Times Hollywood correspondent Waxman has written a gritty, truthful study of six boundary-breaking young directors who revolutionized 1990s filmmaking and still represent a refreshing alternative to "cookie cutter scripts and cheap MTV imagery." Her full-blooded profiles introduce Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights), David Fincher (Fight Club), Steven Soderbergh (Traffic), David O. Russell (Three Kings) and Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich). Waxman shows these auteurs, who "wreaked havoc with traditional narrative form" and combined brutality with humor, as eccentric, frequently antisocial and hardheaded. Their stories make for compelling reading: Waxman dramatizes Russell's erratic, explosive nature in the book's most blistering episode, where the director loses his temper and has a fistfight with actor George Clooney on the set of Three Kings. Other chapters depict Tarantino's penchant for jettisoning close friends after achieving success and Soderbergh's unswerving loyalty to pals. These men possess a daring vision, which the author skillfully depicts, simultaneously offering an illuminating view of motion picture politics. Most of all, Waxman proffers assurance to artists with original voices that their ideas can reach the public if they maintain Fincher's attitude - "Take me or leave me. My way or the highway" - and possess a little luck. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In the 1990s, a group of young directors roiled Hollywood in much the way that Coppola, Scorsese, and their peers shook up the establishment two decades earlier. New York Times correspondent Waxman traces the careers of six of those next-generation rebels--Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, Steven Soderbergh, Spike Jonze, and David O. Russell--from Tarantino's groundbreaking and influential Reservoir Dogs in 1992 to Soderbergh's success, Traffic, in 2000. The '90s had more than its share of innovative and challenging films, ranging from Anderson's Altmanesque Boogie Nights and Fincher's brutal Fight Club to Russell's prescient Three Kings and Jonze's unclassifiable Being John Malkovich. Waxman details the shooting of those films and others, and the corporate barriers their directors had to overcome. The young turks of the '90s didn't change the course of the film industry the way the '70s rebels did, but if they evaded the self-destructive lifestyles that sabotaged many of their earlier counterparts, their self-indulgences were manifested in their films instead, as Waxman's sympathetic but clear-eyed account shows. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
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great stories about the behind-the-scenes, of getting these films made, of the struggles of the directors.
but too much about parents, girlfriends, small stuff.
so 2 1/2 stars actually, for the interesting stories.
The six filmmakers under Waxman's microscope are Quentin Tarantino ("Pulp Fiction", "Kill Bill - Parts 1 and 2"), Paul Thomas Anderson ("Boogie Nights", "Magnolia"), David Fincher ("Fight Club"), David O. Russell ("Flirting With Disaster", "Three Kings"), Spike Jonze ("Being John Malkovich", "Adaptation") and Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic", "Erin Brockovich"). Waxman takes an investigative reporter's scalpel to provide a sometimes scathing expose of the directors' intersecting private and professional lives, but it's saved from total tabloid fodder by providing an incisive and rather disheartening look at Hollywood movie deal-making replete with cleverly maneuvered betrayals. What emerges are six men who, despite their obvious talent, come out as ego-driven, socially inept mercenaries, all willing to compromise their integrity and even their families to secure the deal that will make them the center of the independent film scene. Top of the heap despite his spotty box office track record is Tarantino, a one-time video-rental clerk who parlayed his in-depth film trivia knowledge of film into highly stylized films, the most successful being 1994's "Pulp Fiction", probably the touchstone for all other independent films that followed its over $100 million domestic take. But the others, despite critical acclaim and awards, have fared less well financially, proving that these men are not really the rebels who have conquered Hollywood, just survivors of a system that will always view artistic statement as a lower priority than profitability, a major accomplishment in itself if you are to believe the author. If you have any doubts about Hollywood's preoccupation for the bottom line, I suggest you read James Stewart's just released "Disney War" to get validation of the points Waxman raises here.
To her credit, she gives highly detailed, often compelling accounts of how some of their major films were made, in particular, "Boogie Nights", "Three Kings", "Being John Malkovich," and most interestingly, "Fight Club", a movie so desultory to the studio heads that it brought down Fox's Bill Mechanic, who green lighted the film in spite of performing the same task with a little film called "Titanic". In addition to interviews with the six, who are understandably wary of Waxman's book, she has spoken with plenty of colleagues and relations to paint an awfully bleak portrait of the current Hollywood scene. One is left to wonder if the business will allow them any sort of longevity comparable to their predecessors despite their talent.