READING WITH XIPHOS #5


reading-with-xiphos This the one where the intrepid writer reads some biographies

and wished he hadn’t.

Every once in awhile I go cold on reading for a bit of time, usually about a week to maybe three. This happened to me back in March. That was until some discussions popped up around here about the books The Kid Stays in the Picture and Easy Riders Raging Bulls and those books got me back on the reading horse. Coincidentally, around the same time I watched all 13 episodes of a failed TV series the other book I’m reviewing is based on. So thanks everybody for inadvertently giving me something to inflict on all of you.

The Kid Stay’s In The Picture

(Robert Evans 1994)

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I have to give Robert Evans some credit for his skill at legerdemain. He makes you look at his right hand by dangling embarrassing personal and professional revelations while hiding what is in his left, major criminal activity. Robert Evans is the master of this all throughout his autobiography The Kid Stay’s in the Picture.

The book tells the story of Robert Evans’s rise from childhood radio and stage star to mildly successful but ultimately failed movie actor to even worse producer. Against all odds, Evans became head of production for Paramount Studios during its most creative period, from 1966 to 1974. After Evans got fired he finally became a successful producer until his personal and professional demons laid him low for a decade. This book is his comeback. For me the most interesting piece of info I learned about Evans’s tenure as studio chief is that he comes straight from the creative side of the business and his choices for the movies he greenlit show that. Evans did not have a MBA or even a college degree for that matter. Hell he didn’t even have a high school degree. Evans dropped out to pursue a career as an actor.

Along the way Evans took a detour to become a millionaire with his brother by starting a successful men’s fashion label and then pissed all his money away. This is a recurring theme in Evans’s life. In 1966 Evans met a self made multimillionaire, Austrian emigrant Charles Bluhdorn, whose company, Gulf+Western Industries, had recently purchased Paramount Studios for what amounted to a handful of beans. Bluhdorn took a chance on Evans as head of production. Bluhdorn had nothing to lose really. If Evans failed, like most thought he would, Gulf+Western could just close the studio and sell off the land, probably at a substantial profit. Instead, proving everybody but Bluhdorn wrong, Evans succeeded beyond all expectations, saved the studio and was responsible for some of the best movies ever made.

The early to mid 60′s were nearly the death for Hollywood studios. Their choices were lame, productions bloated and uninteresting. All the major directors were old, hide bound, lazy and out of touch (more on this in the Easy Rider review) so Hollywood was ripe for a revolution from within. Guys like Evans were the point men for the new Hollywood and his creative choices, viewed through the prism of art instead of commerce, helped fuel the New Hollywood movement of the 1970′s. Unfortunately it also revved up Evans personal demons and caused his hard and nearly permanent fall from grace.

During the course of the book, Evans cataloged his personal and professional mistakes and choices in an honest and forthright manner for which I give him credit. I also believe him when he casts himself and much of Hollywood in an unflattering light. I know he’s being fairly truthful on Hollywood matters because Easy Riders Raging Bulls backs him up more or less. Unfortunately, I do think Evans was being less than truthful about his involvement in drug trafficking and with Organized Crime that lead to a guy getting clipped. I also don’t believe that a man in his mid forties, who was an alleged teetotaler his whole life, would become a raving coke fiend over night because his hot German actress girlfriend/coke whore/coke mule gave him his first bump because he had a backache.

Would I recommend this book? Yes I would. It’s well written and gives good insight into the era when Hollywood came the closest to making films that could be considered art on a monthly basis. Unfortunately I wish I didn’t read the book. It started me down a road of not liking a lot of big names in Hollywood and by extension, their movies. Easy Riders Raging Bulls took that mild distaste I harbored and lit a flame of hate that will not endear me to many readers of WOTM but that is another review down the page.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

(Anthony Bourdain 2000)

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I came to read this book in a round about way. I was looking something up on IMDB and in a typically unfocused manner, I began clicking on link after link until I landed on one that had all 13 episodes of the highly fictionalized version of this book, a TV show also called Kitchen Confidential funnily enough. So I decided to watch all 13 episodes online since I had some fond memories about a couple of the episodes I watched back in 2005. Truthfully, the fond memories tended to be more about the woman I was watching the show with at the time than the show itself, still I gave them a go. Even if the highly fictionalized TV version wasn’t as good as I remembered it to be, it got me interested in reading the book so off to the library I went.

I really liked this book. It was funny, witty, very well written and Anthony Bourdain gave an honest look into a world I knew nothing about, that of the professional chef, warts and all and there are lots of warts. The book is also the personal story of a highly trained chef with a boat load of passion for cooking and the skill to back it up who, due to a crippling heroin/other drugs addiction and even worse personal choices, fell from the ranks of greatness. Bourdain spent many years as what he called a “mercenary” chef in kitchens that didn’t deserve his talents but he had no choice. His addiction burned a lot of bridges and he had to get that monkey of his back and get well.

I enjoy reading about guys who have tasted success, then screw the pooch royally and manage to make it back on top. I can sympathize because I’ve done it and I respect a person that has the back bone and drive to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and drive on. If you like books like that, I highly recommend Kitchen Confidential.

There is one complaint I want to address about the book. Mr Bourdain, I realize you wrote this book between 1999 and 2000 in those heady pre 9/11 days so you could throw around imagery and words about running a kitchen like a military campaign and being a chef is like being a fighting man in combat with a cavalier sense of impunity. Sir, with all due respect, being an executive chef or a member of the kitchen staff isn’t even close to being a combat Soldier or Marine and you really should not make the argument that it is. Other than that minor to somewhat major complaint, you wrote a good book.

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Easy Riders and Raging Bulls:

How the Rock ‘N’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood

(Peter Biskind 1998)

6a00cdf7e2f0b8094f00cd9722b2c24cd5-500pi Upfront honesty, I am going to piss off at least two people profoundly and maybe more with this review because I am going to tear into some directors that members of this group hold in high esteem. I am not doing this deliberately to make you mad but I’m also not going to sugarcoat my opinion about these people. I believe they deserve what I have for them. First though, I need to throw the book under the bus.

Easy Riders Raging Bulls was written by Peter Biskin whose entire life has been devoted to swallowing the cock of Hollywood easily, repeatedly and without a gag reflex. This knucklehead is the worst kind of star fucker and the legs of stars he chooses to hump are directors and writers. It’s Biskind’s leg humping like he’s a trained leg humping dog that is ultimately responsible for making the book nearly unreadable. It took me weeks to slog through this horribly written book. Usually I can tear through books in a few days, faster if the subject is something light and frivolous as Hollywood, but not this book. It was so tough to get through and so badly written that it knocked off my previous most difficult book to read, Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire, from what I thought was it’s unscalable height of suckatude.

Look, it’s not like my reading list is comprised entirely of Dan Brown and John Grisham novels. Sure I read those kinds of stories for the pure entrainment value and don’t look down on them but I mostly read history, math and science books. Christ, I’ve read Xenophon, A Brief History of Time and all six volumes of Gibbons History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire but compared to ERRB, those other books were like a Teen Beat magazine on the difficulty level.

Here is the premise of the book: A group of about 20 or so “maverick” directors, writers and a few actors that includes (but not limited to) Martin Scorsese, William Friedkin, George Luca$, The Beard, Francis Ford Coppola (gag puke), Warren Beatty, Paul Schrader and others saved Hollywood from itself with their new “American” cinema. As far as the premise goes, it’s correct. Hollywood, as we learned in this book and Robert Evans’s, in the mid to later 60′s was moribund and near death. Several studios were almost or were bankrupt. The products they were putting out were lousy. They were bloated and not well made and nobody wanted to watch them. All the big directors were old and if they weren’t nearly going senile they were obstinate in thinking they were still relevant to the changing times. For all intents and purposes, Hollywood was ripe for a revolution and the “young guns” were ready to lead it.

These young turks had a stupendously amazing run of making movies that were artistic and monetary successes for the most part. Movies like The Godfather 1&2, The Exorcist, The French Connection, Paper Moon, Jaws, Star Wars, Taxi Driver, Bonnie & Clyde and a host of other fantastic films were created during this time. This period from the late 60′s to the early 80′s was the most artistic period of production Hollywood had or will ever have in my opinion and generally I don’t think of movies as art. The movies made in this period for the most part will stand the test of time and will always be considered cinema and art instead of the disposable, cynical, throw away, rotten garbage movies that the likes of a Don “I’m to fat for my own skin” Smurphy “produces” or what passes for movies out of the Hollywood sewer today.

Biskind chronicles all this in a confusing and jumbled and smugly self-satisfied manner. Even when he is supposedly taking to task the people he covering, it is always with the sub-text of how great and wonderful we all are (he considers himself part of the movement). This group of young guns was an incestuous group that kept telling each other how great they were all the while joyfully and gleefully finding ways to fuck each other over both literally and figuratively. Buskind lapped it all up like the dutiful jizz mop that he is.

There was so much wrong with the book that I’m just going to bullet point the worst of the worst.

  1. Since Biskind is a inveterate name dropper I had to look up a least a dozen names on the internet. They just popped out of nowhere and we were expected to know them.
  2. Biskind would refer to people sometimes by first names, sometimes by last names and sometimes by both in the same paragraph or page. It was hard to follow
  3. Except for Interview With the Vampire, I’ve almost never had to go back and reread paragraphs or pages I’ve already read. Biskind has a confusing style and he flits back and forth between subjects, sometimes in the same paragraph. I was constantly looking up people in the index.
  4. Well you get the idea, I’m not going to belabor the point

That is it for a few of the technical problems I had with the writing of the book. Now I’m going to move onto the problems I had with more than a few the subjects and this will not endear me to most everybody here. Again, I’m not trying to be confrontational. It is what it is and it is my impression of these people.

A few points before I begin about some of the criteria I am using. First, drug use is not a factor. One of the people I’ll be raining a shit storm down on was a cockhead without using hard drugs. To me, drug use is just a sign of weakness so I’m not using it as a criteria for judgment. Sex.  Don’t care about this one except when the people involved fucked their friend’s old ladies (or boys). You don’t fuck what are supposed to be your friend’s significant others. Arrogance I have a problem with but only along certain lines and I will get to those specifically.

Last point, I admit freely and proudly that I am basing my opinions on the fact that I had a rural proletariat upbringing in flyover country. Oh so scary, I’m one of them. I am a red neck (in the true sense of the word and not in the hijacked meaning of the word by overly effete, lazy, ill and worthlessly educated city dwelling motherfuckers that aren’t worthy enough to carry my jock both physically and intellectually) and I’m not ashamed of it. Because of my limited intellectual capabilities and rigid adherence to outmoded concepts of right and wrong and what constitutes “proper” behavior, I am not able to see the difference between the art and the artist. I know I am a narrow minded constructivist that isn’t open minded enough to realize that fallacious and pernicious social constructs of bourgeois society don’t apply to the important creators of ideas and art. I know that since I willingly murder babies and enslave the poor and downtrodden and rape women I have no place commenting on the great men of the art world. I get all that but I don’t care.

PEOPLE I LEARNED TO HATE

Francis Ford Coppola. You sir are a fraud, a thief and a delusional fool. I hate to write that since I truly enjoyed both Godfather movies (3 doesn’t exist). In my opinion they are among the best most involving movies ever made. I get lost in them each time I see them and find something new in them every time I watch. After reading about you in ERRB and Evans book, the bloom is way off that rose. In fact now I believe the success of those movies had as much to do with Evans living in the editing booth as you did in filming. You actively and unashamedly stole money from studios and friends. You called yourself an auteur when you hadn’t done anything. Coppola, you have two great movies in the Godfather and in Apocalypse Now you almost touched greatness (way to miss the point of Heart of Darkness and I would like to have seen what Milieus wrote originally). One movie I thought was good but was mostly unseen was Gardens’ of Stone (which has more to do with me loving the book as a kid). That’s it chowder head. Your cult leader status led you to abuse weak minded sheep like Luca$ and we, as as moviegoers, ended up paying the price. Good job asshole, you’re a total goniff.

Lastly, your actions in the Philippines were criminal. You and your arrogance got lucky you didn’t kill more people on set. Congrats on becoming Kurtz in real life dipshit.

Robert Towne (writer, he wrote or co-wrote Bonnie and Clyde, Shampoo, Chinatown and others) You are a weird, delusional tool and not anywhere as smart as you wish you were. You haven’t made history or “changed the perception of reality in profound and permanent ways.” YOU WROTE SOME MOVIES, THAT’S IT FUCK-O. Actually, numb nuts, what you really did was kiss ass and suck up like a nuclear powered Dyson vac to dumbfucks higher on the food chain than you. When they turned on you for being a high maintenance, attention whore, psudo-hippie, money worshiper (like all the other alleged artistes) you whined like a girl that just got her first period in gym class, you pussy. You’re another big time hippie artiste writer that wails on women you piece of shit. You break the mother of your child’s face? I’m not kidding here, he broke her face. Fucking untalented, hack, scum bag. How did that directing gig work out for you douche? Not well. What’s with all the hate and violence towards women that all these alleged flower children, peace and love pushing knob jockeys have? I only thought it was evil motherfuckers like me that that treat women bad.

Robert Altman I don’t fucking get this this guy. Oh wait, I do. Altman was a miserable money grubbing cocksucker that thought he was better than everybody and felt he was entitled to treat anybody like dirt. Fucking condescending prick. If it wasn’t for the fact that everybody in Hollywood is a feeble wimp, they wouldn’t have taken your abusive bullshit for one damn second. Your whole “angry” guy persona doesn’t even make any sense Altman. You got to live your dream, got paid reCOCKulous sums of money (which like all these “artistes” was the paramount thing, fucking hypocrites) for doing nothing. You had absolute control and power on the set. You banged beautiful women without an ounce of effort on your part. Losers kissed your ass daily and tongue bathed your balls repeatedly all the while making only ONE good movie. If that was my life, I would be the most jovial and happy motherfucker ever to walk the earth but no. You had to play scary angry guy all the time you schmuck.

I know people get all weirded out if you talk ill about the recently deceased but death holds no special meaning for me so I have zero problem shoveling another load of dirt on a festering corpse. With that in mind…..Fuck You Dennis Hopper. You were a bully, a coward, a hack, a woman beating piece of shit and child fucker. Again, if anybody in Hollywood had man parts swinging between their legs or specifically if that giant cunt Peter Fonda had male genitals, your bogus tough guy bullshit never would have flown. Hell, Rip Torn exposed you for the lying cowardly piece of shit you were and not once but twice in court. How much did you lose big mouth? With the fake story you told, like 800 large or so? Also, you titanic piece of shit, young girls? Fucking scumbag, you show up stoned and drunk to your child’s graduation from a big time private school in Connecticut and hit on her friends because you’re a short eyes? Then you bring your child out to New Mexico, get lit and abandon your child on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with your slam piece after shooting at them. Nice job, father of year. Piece of shit, I hope you are roasting over a hot fire in the pits of perdition.

DUDES THAT WERE DUMB ASSES
BUT AT LEAST I UNDERSTAND THEIR DOUCHINESS
…..SORT OF

Paul Schrader: He’s legitimately mentally ill in my opinion. His parents did a number on him with their hard core religious nonsense. I get his actions even if they were stupid and full of shit most of the time. You are also a colossal suck up smooooooch Schrader. You were never going to kill yourself jack off, you just wanted your douchey friends to think that. So you kept a revolver on your desk as a prop for attention. Credit earned where credit’s due, you did write some great movies even if you took credit for work that was your brothers which is really low. In fact, you willing to screw over your brother for a writing credit on Blue Collar means you are lower than the bottom of a grave digger shoes.

William Friedkin: He gets it and this quote proves it, “I have no image of myself as an artist. I’m making commercial films, I’m making a product designed to have people buy it.” You sir get a great big gold star for honesty and FOR getting it. I would also say you made films that were much more than that. Unfortunately, then you made Sorcerer and that was your giant, near career killing moment and puts the lie in your teeth over that quote. Your cuntiness led to Ellen Burstyn sustaining major bodily damage in your ruthless pursuit of “realism in reaction.” Your firing of weapons inside, playing loud music, building refrigerated sets, insisting on filming on location even for pick up shots, were all power trips and some could be considered dangerous. Still, I get you and I understand your particular brand of assholery. It makes sense to me so really, even though you made a ton of shit heel moves they are understandable shit heel moves.

Martin Scorsese: My opinion of him really hasn’t changed, I like his work. All his problems stem from being a coke fiend. That’s the only way to explain something like New York, New York or for humping Liza Minnelli. Plus he was a monstrous momma’s boy but he wasn’t alone in that. Scorsese, along with Friedkin and Schrader and a bunch of other Hollywood goofs, all had mommy issues. What the hell was up with that you pansy’s? Somebody should hurry up and do a Scorsese bio pic and get David Krumholtz to star. There is a picture in the book where these two look like twins.

Bogdonavich, The Beard, Cassavetes, Ashby and most of the rest of the bunch I get more or less, mostly less. All these guys had an unending desire for power as defined by money and not art and each and every one had the desire to be famous. To achieve these goals they happily fucked over their friends to get there which is my last big gripe I have with these asshats. They all pretended to to be friends while secretly screwing each other over and making sure they earn more money than anybody else. The Neck and The Beard won that one going away. Maybe it’s because of my conventional narrow minded fly-over country upbringing but fucking over people that are allegedly your friends is a big deal to me and I find it a disgusting personal trait.

THE ONE GUY THAT I ENDED UP WITH SOME GOOD FEELINGS TOWARDS AND NOBODY IS MORE SURPRISED THAN ME

I can’t believe I am going to write this but George Luca$ went up a couple of notches for me. I didn’t know before ERRB just how fragile and mentally weak he is. Luca$ is also massively  socially inept. The poor bastard hit the uber-nerd trifecta. I also did not know about Luca$ being the prime acolyte in the high church of Francis Ford Coppola. It’s the ass reaming he took from Coppola that inflamed all his other problems that stem from being mentally weak. Because of that I am taking some of the onus off of Luca$ for the the shit that is “the prequels” and put a lot of the blame where it belongs, on the shoulders of Coppola. I also gained some respect for Luca$ because he was among the first to realize that money could be made with tie ins and cross platform promotions and more importantly he told the scumbag unions of the Writers and Directors Guilds to go and fuck themselves. Atta’ boy George, anybody that tells parasite unions to eat shit is all right by me.

THE ONE GUY I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT AND I MEAN ZERO EXCEPT FOR HIS NAME THAT I ENDED UP SORT OF LIKING

Don Simpson Sure he was a sex freak that liked pro pussy, S&M and video taping himself (who doesn’t like all that by the way). Sure, he had, allegedly, like a $60,000 a month drug habit. Sure, he was producer of some horrible movies and, as an executive at Paramount, was so impaired by drugs he fell asleep in meetings and greenlit some shitty flicks but the crazy dope fiend got it. First he realized that Altman was a huge fucking fraud and second, and more importantly, he was honest (for an abusive junky that is). I quote, “We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. Our obligation is to make money.” Sure Simpson may have been the worst drug addict who ever lived, a sex freak’s sex freak and a jerk off but at least he was an honest sex freak druggie jerk off unlike the bullshit filled artistes.

One other heads up for y’all. They made a documentary based off this book called A Decade Under The Influence. If you are in the States, they seem to play episodes of the doc on a continual basis on the Independent Film Channel. I think the episodes are on Youtube if you are interested. One note to future documentations on this subject, DO NOT mic up Julie Christie. That chick is D-U-M-B DUMB. Holy Mother, she would ramble on, not make any sense and talk about things not even related to the question asked. I get why you had her on. Even in her sixties she is still amazingly beautiful, maybe even more so than in the 70′s but good god she is stupid and pompous, the worst kind of daily double.

So to sum it all up, can I recommend this book? No, not at all but your mileage might vary. I thought it was an awfully written book about horrible, less than human beings that happen to make movies.  I wish I never read ERRB or for that matter Evans book as they made me dislike movies I previously really enjoyed due to the actions of their creators. Because of that I’m giving ERRB 4 giant orangutan, double eye poke, fuck yous. It’s the right thing to do. I don’t want to do it because it is a book but it is so woeful I can’t help it.

Xiphos

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About Xiphos0311

Sporadic genius but mostly IDGAF.

116 responses to “READING WITH XIPHOS #5”

  1. Jarv says :

    Funny.

    Friedkin is a colossal twat, but he does acknowledge that he’s frequently out of order. His real sin is arrogance.

    Coppola comes out very badly from Evans account.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      Coppola comes out 1000 times worst in ERRB. To be fair he kind of sorta of cops to being a massive jerk off in a general way near the end of the book

      • Jarv says :

        Evans fucked him hard by writing The Kid. As I remember he publishes the correspondance, and it just makes Coppola look like a complete and utter cunt. An epic failure of a human being, in fact.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Yeah all those correspondence had to do with the Cotton Club and all the actions that Coppola committed during that debacle. Apocalypse Now was just as bad if not worse. I want to read what Millius wrote originally. What was shown on the screen had absolutely nothing to do with what Millius wrote.

      • Jarv says :

        Xi, Milius missed the point of Heart of Darkness by even more.

        It ended with Willard (who was called Marlowe in it) standing by Kurtz side firing a machine gun at US helicopters.

        It may have been hilariously bad if it had ever made it to screen.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Milius missed the point of Heart of Darkness even more? Jesus I can’t even imagine that as possible but I believe you if you say it.

      • Jarv says :

        He turned it into some sort of right-wing propaganda nonsense.

        Completely missed the point. Coppola at least vaguely understood (or someone, much more likely, told him)what it was about even if he didn’t have a clue how to get it on to screen.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Now that you mention it they did something about in the book how radically different Milius version was and had all those things you mentioned.

        There was almost no script when they started filming Apocalypse Now and Copolla was writing and re-writing it as he went along. It shows.

      • Jarv says :

        Yes, but I think Milius has to take a lot of the blame for it. His script was so bad and so off course that Coppola was flying by the seat of his pants to get it fixed.

        That Apocalypse Now is as good as it is does reflect well on Coppola the writer.

        And that sentence in no way excuses his, frankly, cuntish behaviour.

      • Continentalop says :

        FFC did act like a massive cunt on Apocalypse Now, but I will say the fact it isn’t a faithful adaptation of Heart of Darkness doesn’t bother me because it isn’t HOD, it is Apocalypse Now.

        I think FFC made a movie that was in truth more about him and filmmaking than he would care to admit (although he had no problem stating arrogantly that “This isn’t about Vietnam. This IS Vietnam.” Whatever).

      • Jarv says :

        Actually, it’s not a bad stab at Heart of Darkness.

        There were some major mistakes though.

      • Tom_Bando says :

        I enjoy Apocalypse Now, and agree w / you about FFC.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Conti i agree that AN isn’t a faithful adaptation of Heart of Darkness but it was the entire basis of the movie and from that point of view Copalla missed what the book was about by a mile.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      Arrogance is the venial sin that was the undoing for almost all of these guys and some gals.

    • Barfy says :

      Friedkin got very pissy when The Exorcist film didn’t win an oscar.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Yeah that was his MO. good movie though, damn good.

      • Jarv says :

        Exorcist is a fucking fantastic movie. I always wonder if it wouldn’t also be a fucking great play.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        The Exorcist as a play….Hmmmm…thinking about it it could work.

      • Jarv says :

        It’s essentialy a *puts English Lit nerd hat on* a box set naturalistic setting for much of it.

        I believe that this could translate really well if they do it Woman in Black style.

  2. Continentalop says :

    Ha ha ha. I love your review but I will say I had 180 degree opposite reaction. One of my favorite books about my favorite period of filmmaking.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      Well at least you don’t want to burn my image in effigy and try me in absentia for crimes against film since I lit into Altman.

      I did say that it was the best era of film ever, I just didn’t like the book itself and a lot of the people in it.

  3. Jarv says :

    I had exactly the same reaction to a book I read recently about the Music Industry in the early 70’s.

    The author just slobbered all over any cunt that noodled on a guitar at the time, and I ended up with a burning hatred of David Geffen.

    What was it called? Damn it.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      One of my many problems was that through out the book the under tone was it’s all right to act like a huge jerk because we were creating art. It’s funny I don’t remember any films by Bishkin the author in the 1970’s

      • Jarv says :

        That’s the exact reaction I had to the book about the Laurel Canyon fuckers.

        It was unreal, he basically ignored all the shit they pulled and tried to make out that he was pals with Steve Stills. He attempted to gloss over Joni Mitchell as a notorious slut with borderline mental problems and all sorts of stuff like that.

        The only main player from the time that he’s remotely bad about was Geffen, and even then the attitude was “but Geffen set out to create an Artists Label so that was alright” which is blatantly untrue. Geffen set out to fuck every artist that was unlucky enough to sign to him. Stills may be a prick, but he was in the right regarding Geffen.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        BUT is the operative word in these star stroking books. Yes person A did this BUT it’s alright becasue they created “art” so they are A OK by me.

        of course concept of “art” is an entirely subjective concept. Some people think Transformers is art. i just think peoples actions count more heavily then said person trying to create something called art.

      • Jarv says :

        I can’t say about Hollywood, but Music is full of venal, self-interested and talentless fuckers that make it to the top.

        With one exception- Simon Cowell, who is apparently (a guy I used to work for worked with him) not only extremely bright but also incredibly nice. Likes Thai Hookers though.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        I think you could safely say that about Hollywood or General Grade officers or CEOs pretty much a lot of people at the very top of their professions .

      • Jarv says :

        Oh yeah. No doubt there. Look at the mess fucking bankers made,

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Don’t forget the MOTHERFUCKING POLITICIANS who deserve a lions share of the blame. Fucking assholes

      • xiphos0311 says :

        At least on this side of the pond

      • Barfy says :

        Xi, I understand what you’re saying about Biskind being a boot licker and rationalizing bad behavior but it’s not like excesses didn’t occur before American New Cinema. Peccadilloes were covered up by the hard fisted studio system.

      • Jarv says :

        That would be one G. Brown, last seen leaving claw marks on the doorframe of Number 10.

        I would happily boot him into the Thames.

        “Light touch regulation” cunt.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Barfy I’m not just saying it’s Biskind doing it. It has always been problem with Hollywood. The reason I’m banging out Bishkind so hard is that it’s the book I reviewed but I realize he isn’t alone.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Jarv when you remember the name of the Music book could you let me know? I would like to take a look at it.

  4. Jarv says :

    Also, I’ve heard of Kitchen staff referring to their job as a brigade before.

    I always thought they tried to regiment themselves rather than actually believing they were soldiers.

    A military style discipline more than anything else.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      Actually in this case he compared being a chef in a busy New York restaurant kitchen as being in combat and like a soldier in the field and other direct comparison to cooks as soldiers.

      I try not to let things like that bug me and a lot times they don’t usually. It all boils down to the context of how it’s used. If Bourdaine was just talking about regimentation of a kitchen or the discipline or such I wouldn’t care at all. it’s the direct comparisons he made on more then one occasion that bugged me.

      And to be fair if I had read this book back in 1999/2000 it would not have bugged nearly me as much as reading it in 2010. It’s excellent book all around except for that one thing.

      • Continentalop says :

        In his defense, he has lost three assistant chefs to enemy snipers and has had 70 casualties in his kitchen this year alone.

        On second thought, that is just a fucking arrogant comment by him.

  5. Continentalop says :

    I would never burn you in effigy. Maybe burn an effigy of your effigy, but even that would be unlikely.

    Pretty much everyone in ER&RB is, as Jarv would say, a massive cunt. But I expected as much as was not disappointed. The reasons I liked the book were:

    1) Most “great” people are incredibly flawed IMO. Patton was as Sam Fuller said, a great general but a huge asshole. This isn’t an excuse, but I can understand that you have to sometimes separate the person from what they did to make them famous: Patton was famous for being a great general, and Altman for making groundbreaking movies, not for being sweet, lovable human beings.

    2) I think huge Egos and success often go hand-in-hand. Once again this doesn’t excuse dickish and tongue cleaning behavior, but I think a lot of guys would have never made the films they did if it wasn’t for the fact they all thought they were the next Orson Welles or Hitchcock.

    3) I think it is also a great caveat tale about the dangers of excess and arrogance. Pretty much every one in that book paid a price, be it personal, physical, psychological or most likely professional, for what they did in the 70s. I think it shows that you can’t act like there it will never end or that you’ll never have to pay the piper.

    4) And finally, to me it shows a very simple, basic truth: a lot of artist, and most nerds, are fucking assholes deep down. The image of the high school jock as the biggest asshole is just a myth, it is the guy three or four steps down on the social ladder who is the actual assholes, the guys who build up all this frustration and resentment and when they finally get any power or status, they abuse it like a mad dictator. Almost all of the 70s filmmakers were actually college film geeks or nerds trying to be something they weren’t – hip and cool or pretending to be tough (sadly something I am all to familiar with) – and like a lot of those guys they secretly wish for the day to make everyone pay and have a chance to lord it over people like some crazed anti-Spider-Man. Thank god Peter Bogdonavich or Paul Schrader wasn’t bitten by a radioactive spider!

    • Jarv says :

      Most people are assholes. Artists/ film-makers are just people and as a result it is likely that most of them are tongue cleaners.

      • Continentalop says :

        Yes, most people are assholes. But I do think that there is a special type of artist/filmmaker who is especially power crazy and dickish. These were people who felt marginalized and ignored and now feel like they are getting there chance to do what ever they want (see Michael Bay and James Cameron).

        I think a big deal has to do with the innate unhappiness of a lot of filmmakers. I mean, truthfully, you make movies BECAUSE you are actually dissatisfied with your life, otherwise why would you be fantasizing about alternative ones all the time?

    • xiphos0311 says :

      I don’t have a problem with huge egos generally(i spend most of my day around titanically self confident people) as long as the ego is earned, hell I have a gigantic ego but I earned it. I do, however, have a problem with how egos are applied.

      If you act like a shit heel to just to act like a shit heel or are covering up what ever psych problem you have then it’s fuck you charlie game on.

      • Continentalop says :

        I agree. Which is why I loved the book. These guys obviously have serious psychological and self-esteem issues. They are like fucking little kids – I find that fascinating and entertaining without condoning it.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Which is why it annoyed the hell out of me and becasue Biskind wrote a really lousy book, technically, in my opinion.

  6. Continentalop says :

    I’m surprised you gave Paul Schrader such a “pass”; the guy fucked over his own brother repeatedly. Me and my brothers and my friends even have a term for fucking over your relatives or your closest friends – Schradering someone.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      I didn’t really give him a pass. I said I understood why he acted that way becasue his parents really fucked him with all the religious crap. He did have some mental issues in my opinion.

      • Continentalop says :

        Well, I shouldn’t say pass. But I was surprised you didn’t hate him the most. I thought him, Bogdanovich, Friedkin and Altman came across as the biggest dicks (Hopper just came across as borderline psychotic and insane).

      • xiphos0311 says :

        the mental issues, for me, are a somewhat mitigating factor, I did call him out about his actions towards his brother.

        Like Friedkin I can sort of understand how they acted they way they did and why, so I get that I can wrap my head around it. The other fuckers I couldn’t.

        Fucking Hopper was a bully a coward and fucking short eyes. three things I hate with the burning fire of a 1000 suns going supernova. I love the fact that Rip Torn, that crazy drunk, punked him and revealed hopper to be a coward. If anybody in Hollywood had a back bone they would have beat his worthless ass down.

      • Continentalop says :

        I think the mitigating factor for me for Hopper is the drugs. I’m not excusing him, but I do know that heavy drug and alcohol abuse can drastically alter people’s behaviors.

        Does anyone ever know if he he ever act that way after he sobered up? That would change my entire opinion on the matter.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        I have a hard time using drugs/alcohol as an excuse for behavior. I spent most 85-95 and all of December 1997 drunk(fell off the wagon hard) but it didn’t alter the fact that i was a complete angry asshole borderline bully douchebag when sober and I mostly liked it.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      he image of the high school jock as the biggest asshole is just a myth, it is the guy three or four steps down on the social ladder who is the actual assholes

      yep jealousy, desire for their perceived enemies place in the pecking order, misplaced judgment about themselves throw that all in the blender along with rejection by girls up the latter in looks and you get angry asshole adults.

      It also acts a drive for some people to succeed for others it makes them quitters or so docile that they are useless.

      • Continentalop says :

        I think the quitting and docile behavior is all part of evolutionary programming. Nature realizes that you can’t have any sort of social group function if they are constantly fighting for placement on the pecking order, so it makes those on the bottom or lower timid so there won’t be constant struggling for position.

        That is where free will comes in. Just because nature says you have to be docile doesn’t mean as a human being you have to obey that. Like you said, it motivates some people.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        The docile thing I admit is a personal pet peeve of mine.

        I guess becasue I’ve spent most of my life in places that you have to fight for your place in things all the time I see that as the natural order of things. I can be very very much of a dick if somebody else doesn’t stirve to be the best. So yes I do share some of the same problems I complain about people in the book having. The difference is that I recognize the personal flaw and try to work on it.

      • Continentalop says :

        Passive aggressiveness and bullies are my two big pet peeves, which comes out in spades in this book.

        And working on a personal problem is a sign of self-awareness, being honest with yourself and personal responsibility, something that was in very short supply in the New Hollywood generation.

  7. Jarv says :

    Xi, the Tweenlighters are out again.

    However, there’s a more innocent explanation for The Runaways one- It’s got its international release coming up.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      That makes sense. Are you going to check it out?

      • Jarv says :

        I may do- but there was a nauseating interview with Stewart in the paper at the weekend that has put me right off.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Sorry to hear that. If you can get pass the interview it really is a very good movie. Or maybe you can “obtain” by some legal manner of course.

      • Jarv says :

        I’m thinking about it, because it’s going to bomb and I think thoughtful little films like that need support.

        Your review of it also made me want to see it.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        I would hazard a guess that Mrs Jarv with her fine sense of taste would like the movie.

        It is really to bad that the movie died since it was so well made and so few movies are now a days are.

      • Jarv says :

        She also likes Joan Jett.

        So, probably, all in all, I will be seeing that one. A sop to her for Avatar.

        On another note, I fucking detest the Counting Crows, which she loves.

        Completely unrelated to anything, but I just felt a need to get it off my chest.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        I don’t like the Counting Crows either except for one song, Long December, which I listen to on Christmas Eve every year.

      • Jarv says :

        Someone needs to teach the cunt what a chorus is.

        Honestly, it’s incessantly tiresome droning. Fucking dismal preppie hipster music.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Yes sir I agree.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Except on Long December it works

      • Jarv says :

        Can’t say I’ve heard it. I’ve got a bit of an instant “off” switch if CC happens to play.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Yep for me me also, unless it’s December and that one song.

  8. Jarv says :

    On this note, has anyone aside from me ever even heard of a film called Swimming with Sharks.

    It’s got Spacey in it as an asshole Hollywood business type who bullies his PA. The PA takes revenge.

    When I saw it I had just started in the Music Industry and I worked for this short, fat, homosexual twat that pulled a lot of the tricks spacey pulled.

    I mention his sexual preference, because it informed his behaviour- in that he actively sexually harrassed male members of staff. He was an absolute fuckhead.

    The problem is, who the fuck do you complain to in the Music Industry/ Hollywood? You can quit, but there are millions of people out there willing to take your place, and worse than that there’s a sort of “serving time” mentality that these scumbags use to justify their actions.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      Swimming with Sharks was really good haven’t seen it in years but I liked it.

      • Jarv says :

        I’m trying to track it down again. There’s one moment when the PA is explaining why he’s got donut on his suit to his girlfriend that was almost exactly like an experience I had- he says something like “but it’s OK, because now I know that Buddy doesn’t like sugar on his donuts” and I just nodded sagely at the screen.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        If I remember right they had a lot of those kind of jokes/insights/almost breaking the fourth wall moments in the movie.

      • Droid says :

        Saw that when it first came out. Pretty good. Frank Whaley’s second best role. Whats his best you didn’t ask?

        That would be the role of “the bloke who was in that Jennifer Connelly movie where she wears a white singlet.”

        Oh, how I miss Jennifers glorious funbags. Anorexic Jenn ain’t as much fun.

      • Jarv says :

        Also the quality of film she’s in has declined horribly.

        I’ve just cracked your number 1: A beautiful mind.

        Hehehehe

        This is far too nice a day to be in work.

      • Droid says :

        I’ve already stated my loathing of that movie, so no. It isn’t that.

        I really need to get onto doing that.

  9. Tom_Bando says :

    Much of that stuff you said about Towne, Friedkin, etc I knew about. Schrader too.

    I have the DVD ‘The Kid Stays in the Picture’, it’s interesting viewing at the least, but a VERrrry slanted look at the 70’s in La La Land. Evans is very unlikeable but at least you can see what drove the men to do what he did. Sorta.

    I kinda like Hopper, but will admit that’s more the interviewee personae /hollywood ‘survivor’ Hopper I’m thinking about. The less you know about the private lives of these schmucks-from say Reggie Jackson to Coppola to Cary Grant to Liz Taylor-the better off you are as a rule.

    Did Gene Hackmans’ name turn up ?

    • Jarv says :

      Not in the Kid no. I haven’t read ER&RB

    • Droid says :

      Nothing mentioned in ERRB on Hackman that I can remember. Not anything significant anyway.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      Hackman’s name came up in reference to Bonnie and Clyde and The French Connection but nothing bad was attributed to him. There was maybe three sentence or so with his name in it.

      yeah I agree not knowing about people is much better that’s why I said I wished I hadn’t read either book. Kitchen Confidential was good though.

      • Droid says :

        I kind of knew about most of the people in ERRB, except for Altman. I knew nothing about him, and I thought he was a nice guy. Turns out he was an absolute cunt. Go figure.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Altman was another guy I knew almost nothing about but man he rubbed me the wrong way in the book.

        I really don’t understand people like him or fat ass Murphy. If I could work in the job that I had wanted my whole life(and believe me this isn’t it) I would be a very happy person, especially If I got g paid ass loads of cash for it.

      • Tom_Bando says :

        What was Altman like? What exactly did the man do that pissed you off so? He came off as being Mr Abrasive from what I remember.

      • xiphos0311 says :

        Tom in the book Altman comes off like a bullying whiner highly abusive piece of shit who only cared about money and acted like a bitch on the rag all the time about money. He didn’t give a shit about creating “art” like he pretended he did he wanted to get paid. I would have had a lot more respect for him if he had just admitted that.

        My buddy Don Simpson had Altman pegged he was a total fraud. In my opinion Altman only made 1 good movie MASH* and one OKish movie in The Player. Two movies doesn’t entitle you to be a motherfucker(not that much does).

        Altman also lied about leaving the country if Bush got re-elected. Big mouth doesn’t even have the courage of his “convictions” and punked out like the rest of those fucking cocksuckers that said the same thing. The collective yawn emitted by most of the country was a slap across those assholes faces and a huge blow to their titanically overblown egos.

        *I think MASH worked becasue of the source material from the book and the screen writer’s skill in adapting the book more then Altman. He did have a hand in it’s success but then he made a bunch of shit like McCabe and Mrs Miller and Nashville. However I do give him a pass for Popeye since it was was so bizarre.

  10. kloipy says :

    speaking of great writing, that is what this review is Xi. Wonderful.

  11. Stuntcock Mike says :

    Even though Easy Riders/Raging Bulls probably contains a fair bit of second hand(untrue) stuff, I’ve got a pretty good feeling most of it is spot on.

    Coke for a backache? I can tell you from first hand knowledge that doesn’t work.

    Crown Royal works the shit.

    Man, gotta love Bob Evans. On Ali Magraw and Steve McQueen:

    “She was looking at me and thinking of McQueen’s cock.”

    • xiphos0311 says :

      That’s why Evan’s story about a back ache as the gateway to heavy drug use and major weight dealing is bullshit.

      He was drinking and using long before that and he was never clean. all his actions scream user.

  12. Stuntcock Mike says :

    All that bullshit aside, Easy Riders/Raging Bulls is my bible.

    The series version is okay, but I prefer A Decade Under The Influence.

  13. Stuntcock Mike says :

    Nope, that’s the only book of his I’ve ever read. Need to get on that actually. Amazon, here I come.

    The Getaway especially, a friend told me the ending and from what he’s said, they should have filmed THAT in both versions.

  14. lordbronco says :

    Ha-great review Xi-I might have split it into two posts, but whatever.

    Makes me want to do a series of crazy Hollywood “biographies” that have melted my mind-they are weird though because a lot of them are made up.

    I feel like commenting or judging on directors from 40 years ago is interesting, but I’m lacking energy and focus right now.

    Liked the write up, though.

  15. Tom_Bando says :

    Three(3) Directors I have read fat bios on:

    John Huston

    Hitchcock

    Howard Hawks.

    None of these guys are people you’d have wanted to know. My thumbnail memories of the books:

    *Huston was a bastard to about everyone, ruined a score of marriages, treated his offspring like crap (at times), was notoriously vile to Ray Bradbury, and an all around bully. I was much amused by the story the Duke told of dropping Huston onto his head whilst they tried to film ‘The Barbarian and the Geisha’. Much fun-and much deserved, too!

    *Hitchcock-well other than this real penchant for blonde icy goddesses (Novak, Hedron, Kelly)- and driving Hedron nearly nuts-nothing too much there. Was known to treat the actors like cattle but I don’t remember he was a boor all around.

    *Hawks-Take Hitch’s icyness, toss in Huston’s ‘must pump all the leading ladies’, and a real talent for cutting people of all walks of life off at the knees, and you got him. Hawks sounded like you never really could get to know the true guy underneath, and he was not afraid put a knife in your back if it suited him. Was an oddly off putting portrait despite there not being that much Robert Evans about him.

  16. Jarv says :

    Bando was that hitch one called the dark side of genius?

    • Tom_Bando says :

      Donald Spoto Yessir.

    • Tom_Bando says :

      The John Huston one was written about 1994, and the writer had known Huston in a fan-boy/writer way, Huston had given him some sort of ‘letter of introduction’ that he could use to interview Olivia De Havilland or Evelyn Keyes or some of the others. Basically Huston came off as being a sleazebag to my thinking. Great director DUH but you know.

      The Hawks book is about 8 or so years old, he was more run of the mill Hollywood Douche, but the impression I got wasn’t great. Great at what he did, sure, but don’t think you’d have wanted to know him.

  17. xiphos0311 says :

    I was doing some internet reading about Hitchcock and found this story about him concerning Psycho. If it’s true it’s damn funny.

    One angry father wrote to the brilliant director, saying his daughter had not bathed since viewing a bathtub drowning in the 1954 French film “Les Diaboliques,” and now she was refusing to shower after seeing Janet Leigh’s character slashed to death in “Psycho.” Hitchcock responded, “Send her to the dry cleaners.”

  18. ThereWolf says :

    Can’t really add anything – I tend not to delve into the personal life of an actor/ director, so all the stuff above I didn’t know, though I had seen something about Hopper’s off-screen activities before. Maybe I’ll think a little less of them as people but I still admire what they put on-screen.

    Still, that was a fantastic rant, Xi. I like to see a man feeding off his emotions…

  19. M. Blitz says :

    YEp, they’re all TOTAL DICKS. But, it confirms my suspicions about the rich and powerful. Oh how I love to hate ’em. Even if they made great movies…

    Biskind has always struck me as a bit of a cunt too. OH well, it’s appropriate to his subject matter I suppose.

    The book gave some nice shout-outs to Polly Platt and Marcia Lucas, if I recall.

    • xiphos0311 says :

      Blitz,

      I don’t think being rich made them dicks I think they were always dicks the money let them express it more and at more people.

      Biskind is a star humper and has a near terminal case wannabeitis.

      Marcia Lucas and Polly Platt were prominently mentioned. It’s interesting to note that Bogdonovich didn’t make a good movie after he threw her aside for Sybil Sheppard.

      Marcia Lucas had as much to do with the Beard’s early success as the Beard did.An argument can be made that she was able to make American Graffiti and Star Wars watchable.

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