Gods and Monsters: Thirty Years of Writing on Film and Culture from One of America's Most Incisive Writers

Gods and Monsters: Thirty Years of Writing on Film and Culture from One of America's Most Incisive Writers

by Peter Biskind
     
 

Peter Biskind authored two of the most talked about and read books of the last decade—Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock-'n'-Roll Generation Saved Hollywood and its bestselling sequel Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film. Gods and Monsters chronicles the cause and courses of Hollywood over the

Overview

Peter Biskind authored two of the most talked about and read books of the last decade—Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock-'n'-Roll Generation Saved Hollywood and its bestselling sequel Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film. Gods and Monsters chronicles the cause and courses of Hollywood over the last three decades—the super freaks, lowlifes, charlatans and occasional geniuses who have left their bite mark on American culture, as refracted through the trajectory of Peter Biskind's career. The ghosts of McCarthyism and the blacklist haunt Gods and Monsters as do the casualties of the counterculture and the New Hollywood—the story of Sue Menges, the '70s "super-agent" whose career went mysteriously south, is extraordinarily poignant, as is the example of Terence Malick, whose light shone so brightly in the same period but then disappeared until 1997's The Thin Red Line. But at the heart of the book are the likes of Warren Beatty, Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese, Robert Redford and Quentin Tarantino and uber-producers Don Simpson and Harvey Weinstein and their excess lifestyles, all of whom Biskind portrays in great Dickensian detail, charting how they have had a simultaneously strangulating and liberating effect on the industry.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The probably inevitable rarities and B-sides compilation from the ex-editor of Premiere. Previously, Biskind (Down and Dirty Pictures, 2004; Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, 1998) made a niche for himself as the slightly left-of-mainstream scold of the American cinematic scene in whose eyes the sellouts are many and the artists of vision rare. Here are three decades' worth of Biskind's past writings that show, besides his undisputable eye for critiquing the form, the evolution of a writer from starchy ideologue to celebrity profiler. What's most striking in the pieces from the '70s and '80s is the uncompromising nature of their political conviction. A Film Quarterly story about On the Waterfront becomes a decent encapsulated history of American liberalism and labor in the postwar era. Biskind's cant has a tendency toward old lefty revisionism, as when he thrashes the PBS documentary Vietnam and The Deer Hunter for daring to suggest that the North Vietnamese may not have been populist angels, and castigates the NBC miniseries Holocaust for not critiquing Zionism. As he slouches into the '90s and his problematic editorship of Premiere-where, it must be said, for years Biskind fought the good fight for the idea that you could have a smart but popular film magazine-his writing comes to consist more of profiles of filmmakers, both the creatives and the suits, and the spark goes out. His piece on Clint Eastwood is fraught with uncharacteristic pandering, and one on Robert Redford and Sundance is heavily laden with Vanity Fair Hollywood powerbroker gossip. That said, his 1998 story on the lengthy gestation of The Thin Red Line and the perverse mania of director Terrence Malick is out-and-outmasterful. An impressive appreciation of cinema's highs and lows, but you'll still wish Biskind could simply go back to writing about movies again instead of indulging in all this glossy gossip.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781560255451
Publisher:
Nation Books
Publication date:
11/28/2004
Series:
Nation Books
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Pages:
362
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.99(d)

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