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piiskoor

Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls - Peter Biskind Here's where I gave up, where the tasty gossip turned from alluring to absurd:

"Timothy Bottoms, a rising young star who would years after distinguish himself by peeing on Dino DeLaurentiis's shoes during the production of 'Hurricane,' had a crush on Cybill, and couldn't understand why Peter, who already had a wife and children, was hitting on her. They fought throughout the production, and eventually, Bottoms got his revenge: he gave Cybill a novel by Henry James called 'Daisy Miller.'"

Those two sentences are tangled up syntactically and semantically, a thicket of clauses. The winks and nudges about events not yet narrated by the book illustrate two key problems for me: a) bad behavior (with business info a close second) interests Biskind far more than any real insights into filmmaking, and b) the flash-forward to Daisy Miller illustrates his assumptions about audience, and he thinks--perhaps rightly in my own case--that we all already know the history, that what we're reading for is not so much historical insight as the gossip around the events [see key problem (a)].

I was kind of enjoying the gossip for about 50 pages, but then I began to feel a sense of vague anxiety. And after another 50 pages I realized that most of the time my engagement with such gossip is in the doctor's/dentist's waiting room; every anecdote about peeing and fucking and drug-taking made me feel that much closer to the probing fingers of a medical technician.

More seriously, I picked this up after reading Mark Harris' excellent _Pictures at a Revolution_, which zeroed in on the making of the 5 Best Picture nominees of 1967. It had its intriguing gossip, but the emphasis was on how ego and behavior influenced production & aesthetics, or how they tied to the social/historical context. Harris' book was a great, great book about how movies get made, using a few case studies. Biskind is a book about how *these* movies get made, relatively underinformative about the broad contexts (economic, social, historical, aesthetic) which shaped even these movies. It's more about the peeing on shoes. (I like me a good shoe-pisser story, but....)