Down and Dirty Pictures

Down and Dirty Pictures
Peter Biskind
Reviewed by eclecticlibrarian
Mon, 05/09/2005

Whilst somewhat lacking in the outrageousness and salacious detail of his previous book, 'Easy Riders, Raging Bulls', this is a more than worthy follow-up. It details the rise and fall of 'indie movies', movies made outside of the studio system, often by unknown or first-time directors. Many of these movies were championed and sold at the Sundance Film Festival, which was initially set up to give these directors a pulpit and a place for their movies to be seen and sold. And many were bought by Harvey and Bob Weinstein's Miramix.

This book is really about these two organisations, Sundance and Miramax, and their role in first creating an atmosphere where indies filmmakers could flourish, and later, pressuring those same filmmakers into 'going commercial'. For many directors, their first movie was the only true 'indie' movie in their filmography, because once they'd had that first score, once they'd had a film hit the big time and their name become known, there was intense pressure on them to then make something big, something commercial, something that could draw on that cachet and make mega-bucks.

Slowly but surely, Sundance became a place for the studios to find the next big thing, and the indie world became almost a 'farm' for talent. In effect, Sundance sold out, betrayed what it was originally set up to nurture and protect. And Miramax moved away from the movies it had made its name with, edgy, daring, sexy movies like Pulp Fiction, and became just another studio, all the more so after it was bought out by Disney.

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