Thursday, February 14, 2008

Easy Riders Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind

I don't really have anything much writing-related to say about this book but I liked it a lot and fiction writers tend to find film interesting as well, and so I thought I'd mention it. It's a nonfiction account of the "new" Hollywood that arose out of the 60s counterculture and briefly ruled during the 70s. It covers the moment cinema went from Doris Day/Rock Hudson to Peter Fonda/Jack Nicholson and then on through the director-auteur movies of Coppola/Beatty/Ashby/Scorsese and into the blockbusters of Spielberg/Lucas. It's a real play by play of many influential films and has lots of interesting points about the pros and cons of having an auteur behind a film and the disasters that befall those auteurs who get an inflated sense of self. For those of us who write all by our lonesomes, film with all its collaboration can seem both terribly appealing and horrifying. Though I must say it was eye-opening to me once I signed on with an agent (and her team) and started hearing from editors, to realize just how collaborative fiction becomes when other people are considering investing their money in your project. Anyway... this book also made me realize why I could never be a journalist. I could never make all of the phone calls. As a well known phone-a-phobe, the thought of arranging, let alone holding, the hundreds of interviews (five years worth!) that Biskind conducted made me clutch my chest with one hand and put the other to my brow.

Update to my Graduate post: By coincidence there is a new book on the "new" Hollywood reviewed in the NYTBR this Sunday and it points out that the film of The Graduate changed Benjamin's interruption of the wedding from pre-vows to post-vows, so that Elaine is actually already married at the end of the film (there are other smaller changes in the adaptation of the whole wedding episode too) ... while this is significant difference (at least I guess I would think so if I were the bride or the groom), it seems less significant now than it probably did in 1967. And my point that this is a remarkably close adaptation remains the same.


Bill from Pasadena said...

My three favorite movie books are William Goldman's "Adventures in the Screen Trade" (I only wish it went past the early 1980s); David Mamet's "Bambi vs. Godzilla" (for its description of all the great movies I missed); and David McClintick's "Indecent Exposure: A True Story of Hollywood and Wall Street" (investigative journalism that reads like a novel).

Bill from Pasadena said...

My favorite anecdote about "The Graduate." Director Mike Nichols, while interviewing Robert Redford for the part of Benjamin, tried to explain that he was not right for the role. "Have you ever been rejected by a girl?" asked Nichols, to which Redford replied, "What do you mean?"
"Exactly!" said Nichols.