Author Topic: PTA featured in new book  (Read 6624 times)

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pete

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PTA featured in new book
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2005, 11:57:20 PM »
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he went to Emerson for like half a semester or something.
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modage

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« Reply #16 on: January 23, 2005, 04:45:06 PM »
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i will buy this book, i hope its good.
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Ravi

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« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2005, 04:57:59 PM »
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I'm disappointed in the omission of Brett Ratner from this book.

Born Under Punches

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« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2005, 08:20:41 PM »
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So is this the impetus behind the feud between Waxman and David O. Russell?

ono

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« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2005, 07:04:47 PM »
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I started reading the book earlier today.  Didn't start off too good.  This woman, whoever she is, doesn't really know her stuff.  Some statements made that, maybe it's just I don't agree with where she's coming from 'cause I look at the films in question differently.  Well, we'll see.

Also, did anyone here actually bid on that PTA essay?  The auction ends in about 5 hours.  It's got 4 bids, up to $2.24 now.  I'm half-tempted to check it out out of morbid curiosity, but was wondering if anyone here had the same idea.

ThurstonPowell

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PTA featured in new book
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2005, 02:37:36 PM »
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What struck me about the PTA sections in the book was that Waxman had missed the tone.  She quotes William H. Macy's from the "That Moment" documentary on the Magnolia DVD (WHM said to PTA that the script was great but a little long, and PTA replied that he 'wasn't changing a word, you cocksucker!', later, WHM speaks directly into the documentary camera, sarcastically claiming that PTA did everything on the movie, including 'ground[ing] the lenses') as if PTA's words had been intended to hurt and that WHM didn't like him.  But WHM's was obviously being sarcastic in that tone in that doc, and that he gets along well with PTA.  PTA, in that doc and all of his commentaries, seems as if he has a particular sense of humor he shares with his collaborators, that he gives people a hard time but it's meant in a joking way.  

I aslo noticed Waxman never quotes the final running time of PTA's films, implying through omission that the films were much longer than they finally ended up being.  In each case, she mentions the running time of one of the earlier rough cuts, mentions studio/producer conflict with PTA over the length, and never corrects the number once the movie is released.  So, if you took her word for it, the running time of Hard Eight was 2 1/2 hours, Boogie Nights was 3 hours, and Magnolia was 3 hours and 20 minutes.  She positions PTA's resistence to removing material from his films as an Achilles heel, yet fails to point out that in fact he removed significant portions from each of his rough cuts - and, it seems from his commentaries, gladly.  She even implies, again by leaving facts out, that Punch Drunk Love is long and undisciplined.  There are also a lot of grammatical errors and sloppy fact checking throughout the book.
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eward

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« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2005, 02:53:07 PM »
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so this book pretty much sucks?

ono

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« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2005, 02:58:16 PM »
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Well, that doesn't bode too well for it, to be sure.  As said before, she just doesn't seem to know as much as we do about these people, and in her search to find more and report to us, she shows how naive she is.  I've still only just begun the book.  There are some good anecdotes in the beginning about Tarantino and Soderbergh.  A bit gossipy, which is a shame, but also a bit insightful.  Jury's still out for me, but if Thurston's report is any indication, I'll find more to dislike, too.

ThurstonPowell

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PTA featured in new book
« Reply #23 on: January 31, 2005, 03:04:41 PM »
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Yeah.  The other directors fare no better (Spike Jonze has a 'blissful' lack of knowledge about film culture pre-Star Wars, Soderbergh is cold and distant, Fincher thinks he's smarter than everyone), and she spends an endless amount of time rehashing the David O. Russell/George Clooney feud on Three Kings (which is well documented elsewhere), as well as following the entire process of making "Traffic".  That last topic is odd - saying Traffic is the artistic high point is Soderbergh's career is to discount several good-to-great films.  

There's a cute picture of Traffic producer Laura Bickford in the photo section - otherwise this book is a reminder never to buy a full-price hardcover.
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meatball

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« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2005, 05:29:53 PM »
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Quote from: ThurstonPowell
There's a cute picture of Traffic producer Laura Bickford in the photo section


Sold.

MacGuffin

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« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2005, 03:28:40 PM »
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Book Review: Rebels on the Backlot
By Gregory McNamee - Hollywood Reporter

In 1999, a little-known director out of Nebraska, Alexander Payne, delivered a black comedy to Paramount. Based on a novel by Tom Perrotta, Payne's tale turned on a high school girl so ruthlessly ambitious that her favorite teacher resolves to stop her in her tracks -- possibly the dream of every high school teacher in the land but a premise that tested poorly with the inevitable focus groups.

"Election" was a masterpiece all the same, beloved by critics and discerning viewers. Indeed, then head of Paramount production John Goldwyn remarked, " 'Election' is the best movie we've made in our studio in the past 10 years." He added, "And it's a movie we have no interest in repeating."

So New York Times reporter Sharon Waxman relates in "Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System," an up-close, often gossipy and sometimes not very nice account of the mostly young, mostly white, mostly male auteurs who crashed the well-guarded gates of Hollywood in the 1990s.

The godfather of their loose-knit movement was Quentin Tarantino, the one-time video-rental clerk who parlayed his encyclopedic knowledge of film and sense of romanticized violence into the zeitgeist-defining "Pulp Fiction." The 1994 film -- and, of course, Tarantino himself -- irked plenty of suits in the months before its release, but the huge boxoffice on a production that reportedly cost $8 million was enough to earn Tarantino an open door to every studio in town. With more than $100 million in domestic business alone, after all, "Pulp Fiction" turned out to be "the most profitable independent film ever made."

"Election" didn't fare so well. Neither, as Waxman notes, did most of the films made by Tarantino's contemporaries, of whom Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, David O. Russell, Spike Jonze and Steven Soderbergh figure most prominently in her pages. And even though they were hungry for post-Tarantino indie magic, it's not exactly as if the studios rushed to bring these outsiders into the fold.

Still, the doors opened for them, too, if sometimes creakily. Waxman guesses that Jonze's "Being John Malkovich," for instance, was made "due to an accident of timing," slipping through the cracks during the months that parent studio PolyGram was on the block. And then there was Fincher's "Fight Club," a strange, appallingly violent but engrossing film that, to Fincher's bewilderment, sparked one controversy after another until, in the end, it brought down the studio head who gave it the green light, Fox's Bill Mechanic. The same man had presided over the making of "Titanic," which earned $1.8 billion worldwide and made Fox very happy indeed, but he was not to be forgiven for making Fincher's film possible.

Around that time, Soderbergh tried to enlist some of his young director peers in a cooperative venture that would have given them a little more room to move. For various reasons, it fell apart. Ego might have had something to do with the failure. Surely money did. Waxman tells us plenty about the former, enough that our hearts sometimes go out to the poor executives who had to deal with the badly behaved rebels at the gates. But those rebels didn't quite conquer Hollywood, as Waxman's grand subtitle would have it. More and more, it looks as if they merely survived it.
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modage

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« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2005, 11:10:58 PM »
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Quote from: ono mo cuishle
I started reading the book earlier today.  Didn't start off too good.  This woman, whoever she is, doesn't really know her stuff.  Some statements made that, maybe it's just I don't agree with where she's coming from 'cause I look at the films in question differently.  Well, we'll see.

allow me to pinpoint the sentence that made you feel this way...

page 2 of the introduction...

The young generation that emerged in the 1990's- and these young men were cheif among them- were nothing if not self concious heirs to the mantle of directors such as Coppola, Bogdanovich, and Friedkin, along with Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Hal Ashby, Robert Altman, George Lucas and a long list of others.  In the 1970's, these older visionaries created the movies that defined their era with groundbreaking, challenging, and ultimately enduring films including The French Connection, Nashville, Raging Bull, Apocalypse Now, and Midnight Cowboy.  By now, most of those talents had retired, burned out, or become hacks in the Hollywood studio system.  Some of them, like Scorsese, still struggled to make movies that rose to the level of their youthful artistry with mixed results. Only one, Spielberg, still seemed to succeed at his craft with any degree of regularity.

---------------------------
haha, was i right?

Quote from: ono mo cuishle
As said before, she just doesn't seem to know as much as we do about these people, and in her search to find more and report to us, she shows how naive she is.

yes, some random facts that were wrong and obvious really make the entire book seem somehow less credible but that may not be the case.

Quote from: Greg Mariotti
There's been much discussion about Sharon Waxman's new book "Rebels on the Backlot". Many have asked my thoughts & I thought I would share my opinions (which I usually try to avoid). I think it's horrible...a smear job...extremely subjective & contradictary. What did I learn about PTA when reading the book? That his birthday is wrong (it's actually June 26th, not January 1st). That's about it. It's gossipy & "fun to read" in small doses, but I kept finding myself getting angry. In one breath, she would praise these directors for having a "vision" & not wavering, but in the next, she'd take a shot at them for being "egomaniacs", etc. According to the author, Paul did do one interview (At the last moment) & provided a bit of detail about growing up & his family, but that's really it. I'm sure one day, we'll get a true biography with insight on Paul & his films. Until then....keep reading this site & make up your own mind.

yeah i wasnt quite sure where she was coming from.  in order to write the book it seemed like she must've thought these guys were pretty great, but then would try to expose them as jerks.  its hard to say.  biskinds book paints a lot of older directors in a not-so-flattering light but maybe because time has passed it doesnt feel as harsh as saying these guys today are pricks.  she basically says pt is so great through the whole book and then turns around in the "Conclusion" to say this "Paul Thomas Anderson made Punch-Drunk Love with Adam Sandler and raged around the set like the diva he was, shooting for months and months without much of a script.  The movie was weighed down by his overindulgent working style (his longtime colaborators Dylan Tichenor quit halfway though in frustration) and an overgenerous studio.  The movie did only moderate business and got no major awards."  <-- totally out of left field, i was actually caught off guard by that.  that was probably the worst thing in the whole book.

Quote from: eward
so this book pretty much sucks?

no, it aspires to the same gossipy behind-the-scenes tone of biskinds two books but (unfortunately) in a really rushed way.  BUT, for anyone who is a frequent visitor of this site i still think its a really worthwhile read.  even though some of (or even a lot of) the information may be repeats from the other books or sources, there were more than a handful of things i learned in this book that made it worthwhile.  although it seems ridiculous when it actually goes as far as to quote dvd features or biskinds books,  there are enough interesting stories on these directors to make it a really worthwhile read for anyone who comes here often enough regardless of how subjective some of her opinions are.  if you've never read those other books this has tons of interesting behind-the-scenes tales, and even if you have this book still has stories you've never heard before, especially when i wished Down and Dirty had spent more time on the actual FILMMAKERS like these instead of harvey weinsteins endless tales.  its not perfect but none of these books are, someone needs to take this information and synthesize it with biskinds books just like someone needs to insert all the interview footage from the thx1138 docs and put it in Decade Under The Influence.  anyways, most of you would probably really like this book.
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ono

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« Reply #27 on: February 20, 2005, 11:42:10 PM »
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Quote from: themodernage02
allow me to pinpoint the sentence that made you feel this way...

page 2 of the introduction...

Only one, Spielberg, still seemed to succeed at his craft with any degree of regularity.

Lolz, no, but nice try.  Possible Spielberg SPOILERS!
He sucks.

I enjoyed the book for what it was: a gossipy opinionated tome, revealing some of what we may not have known about the ecccentricities of certain directors, and the process some of these films went through.  It's no Down and Dirty Pictures.  And for her to say filmmaking is a young-man's game.  Well, Altman just turned 80; Kurosawa made movies until he was 83 and died only five years later; Eastwood, at 74, just made one of the best movies I've ever seen; and she's a fucking idiot.

I'm on the Conclusion, I'll probably finish it tomorrow.  It just boggles the mind how a woman with so little respect for these directors could get this information.  How she dumped on Eyes Wide Shut, for one.  And Schizopolis, too, but that gripe's a little less valid because it seems you either love that one or hate it, and I think it's probably his best film.  Either she really knows something we don't know, or she just never grew of that high-school girl-talk phase.  What Greg said about it being a smear job?  Yeah, I see it.  It's true in a way.  I too found myself angry at her portrayal of PTA (and other directors, too -- Soderbergh, Fincher).  I don't know how she is privy to certain facts, yet totally overlooks key things about the films that makes them special.  She lets her opinions/editorializing get in the way all too many times for me to ever take her too seriously.

Quote from: On Punch-Drunk Love, Sharon Waxman
the movie did only moderate business and got no major awards.

Best director at Cannes isn't major.  Riiiight.

Pubrick

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« Reply #28 on: February 21, 2005, 01:38:55 AM »
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Quote from: ono mo cuishle
She lets her opinions/editorializing get in the way all too many times for me to ever take her too seriously.

dude, she wrote the book.

modernage i gotta thank u for that excellent review, i won't bother reading this crap but i will hound u for the stories/new information u said make it worth reading. if they're just a few, can u recount them? thanks.
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MacGuffin

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« Reply #29 on: April 07, 2005, 03:08:31 PM »
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Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System is a must read for anyone who watched a movie in the 1990;s. Sharon Waxman’s book has a chapter devoted to each filmmaker, the movie or movies they made that shaped the 90’s and their contemporaries which helped them get to where they are today. Through exclusive interviews with Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, David O. Russell, The Wachowski Brothers, Steven Soderbergh, David Fincher and Spike Jonze we get to go behind the screen.

You’ll learn all about what went down between O. Russell and George Clooney while making Three Kings, how Fincher laughed when they finally greenlit Fight Club, how Tarantino screwed over everyone he promised not to screw over and the battles that Anderson had with New Line over Magnolia.

Daniel Robert Epstein: You’ve got some information in Rebels on the Backlot that seemed like it just happened.

Sharon Waxman: Most of the book is about the 90’s but towards the end of the book I try to bring the reader up to date.

DRE: What was the most difficult part of doing this book?

SW: Definitely wrangling all the directors to do interviews. They are the ones who have their personal stories and a lot of the personal information that I was looking for. Also if they told their friends and the people around them not to talk to me then I pretty much would have gotten shut down. It was a gradual process of getting them to feel comfortable with the idea of me doing a book about them. Some came more willingly than others but they all eventually came.

DRE: Did you tell them right off this is a book about them, warts and all?

SW: Absolutely. But I think that if I told them otherwise they wouldn’t believe it because my work isn’t in that vein. I don’t really write puff pieces or at least I try really hard not to. At the same time I didn’t want to write a nasty or gossip filled book. There are a lot of interesting rich anecdotes in the book but the purpose was to tell the story of what happened in Hollywood in the 90’s. It is all to serve the story of these directors who made some of the most indelible and interesting movies of that time.

DRE: These directors really admire the directors of the 70’s and they seem prouder to have a book like this come out rather than the 70’s directors did to have a book like Easy Riders, Raging Bulls come out.

SW: I haven’t heard how they have reacted to the book coming so I don’t know if I can comment on that. I think the book is as complete as it can be. I would say that it is a sympathetic approach because I really love their movies. But of course as a reporter you uncover stuff but I’m not there to judge. How they will respond is something I’m curious about but it’s not essential.

DRE: How much of the stuff in this book did you already know but you needed confirmation from a source to print it?

SW: Most of what is in the book is new reporting. The context of the story is something I knew about because I cover Hollywood. But the specifics of who they were, where they came from and how they were regarded I had no idea about.

DRE: What piece of information surprised you the most?

SW: I guess it surprised me to find out how hard it was in every case to make the movies. I set out to find out about the community of rebel directors in the 90’s and they had to find the studio so much to be made. For example I had no idea what an effort it was to make Traffic. It was like a suspense thriller with Steven Soderbergh financing the movie to the tune of $200,000 up until it got to principal photography because they had no idea which studio would finance it. Or with a movie like Being John Malkovich which the studio just forgot about in the course of Polygram being sold to Universal in one of the many mergers of the 90’s.
 
DRE: How did you pick which directors to write about?

SW: I tried to pick directors who’s movies really made a mark on the culture of the 90’s. Movies that were seen by people and weren’t obscure independent films. A movie that was made in Hollywood not with somebody’s credit card in the boondocks and finally a movie that when we look back in 30 years it would be something you still want to see.

DRE: Did any of these directors’ previous antics make you nervous about talking to them in the first place?

SW: No I loved talking to them. These are really interesting and complex individuals. They are smart and masters of what they do. My problem is never talking to the creative talent; the challenge is always getting that access. But once I did that we had the most amazing conversations, not just with them but with the people who collaborated with them. We did a screening of Being John Malkovich and as I watched the credits I just counted all the people I talked to.

DRE: Why was the book released on the first day of the 2005 Sundance Film Festival?

SW: Sundance is pretty much the one day where the film industry all gets together in one place so it seemed natural. Also most of the filmmakers in the book came to attention at the festival or at the Sundance Lab.

DRE: I was surprised to read in your book that Spike Jonze is borderline illiterate.

SW: He doesn’t like to read.

DRE: Well doesn’t like to read is much different from borderline illiterate.

SW: He’s a child of the video generation. He’s such a huge talent but he’s not a book learning talent so who cares. He’s obviously so fabulous gifted. I take a different lesson from that, meaning that people have different gifts in different areas. Not everyone is going to excel at school but they still can become one of the most talented filmmakers working.

DRE: Do you think that someday someone will be able to write a book about you?

SW: A book on me? I highly doubt that. I’m a reporter that likes to observe and write about other people.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


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