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Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film
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Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  2,375 Ratings  ·  149 Reviews

DOWN AND DIRTY PICTURES chronicles the rise of independent filmmakers and of the twin engines the Sundance Film Festival and Miramax Films that have powered them. Peter Biskind profiles the people who took the independent movement from obscurity to the Oscars, most notably Sundance founder Robert Redford and Harvey Weinstein, who with his brother, Bob, made Miramax an indi

Paperback, 560 pages
Published January 3rd 2005 by Simon Schuster (first published January 1st 2004)
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Sam Quixote
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm one of those who came of age in the `90s and who loves film, remembering all the great films that that decade produced is great fun as well as finding out how they came about from the mouths of the filmmakers themselves. That said, I loved the book but it goes further than talking about the directors and actors, to the guys who held the purse-strings and the exposure, namely the Weinstein brothers, Harvey and Bob, who created Miramax and Dimension, and Robert Redford, the movie star who foun ...more
Jan 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here's a summary of Down and Dirty Pictures:

1) Harvey Weinstein acts like a lunatic because of some movie deal
2) Another either repellent or uninteresting Hollywood exec has a bad business experience because of some movie deal
3) An either repellent or uninteresting actor or director has a bad creative experience because of a movie deal
4) Repeat above for 12 chapters

Possibly the most interesting thing about the book is how the author, Peter Biskind, somehow manages to bring himself across as equ
Jen Crichton
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
You know why I started to read this book in October 2017. And having liked Peter Biskind's Raging Bulls about 70s moviemaking, I should have read this sooner. But I had heard that Down and Dirty Pictures was sloppily written, could use tightening up by a good editor and was ultimately depressing. All true. But I listened to this as an audiobook where the lack of tightening up means you can miss a sentence or two while the water is running when you're doing the dishes and still come away with the ...more
Dec 07, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally polished off Peter Biskind's "Down and Dirty Pictures," the saga of the rise and fall of independent film in its Sundance and Miramax incarnations, from "sex, lies, and videotape" to the big-budget, mainstream not-really-indie flicks Miramax now supports (Kate and Leopold? She's All That?)

I'm a big fan of Biskind's gossipy dissection of the "golden age" of 70s cinema, "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls," and "Dirty Pictures" shares the same dedication to movie minutiae, the same exhaustive sou
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
UGH, FINALLY finished this. I have to say that most of the reason that I hated this book had little to do with the research or the author's ability to string together a history narrative. I hated reading this book because basically everyone in it is terrible. I was indifferent regarding most of the known players in this book (the Weinsteins, Redford, etc.) prior to reading it, but am now in full on loathing for everyone. It makes me glad I'm not much of a movie fan anymore because I feel dirty h ...more
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: films, socio-cultural
Having read "Easy Riders and Raging Bulls" - I thought I'd check out the sequel, about indie cinema in the 1980s and 1990s. The subject itself seems very interesting and is worthy of being studied in greater depth. There was an excellent book to be had in the subject matter - it's just that Biskind didn't write it.

While I can't fault his research and scoring interviews with most of the key people involved, which seem impeccable - I didn't find the various machinations and double-dealings quite
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very amusing description of the US independent film scene during the 1990s, especially of its business aspects. I am not sufficiently familiar with the field to judge each argument on its merits. In any case the notion that during the 90s there was an attempt to create a middle ground between the traditional independent film scene and large Hollywood studios, an attempt that eventually failed, makes sense.
Sean Condon
Apr 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Tries to push the idea that the distributors are the true heroes of the indie film business; I do not buy it. Pretty interesting but nowhere near as good as Easy Riders Raging Bulls.
John Spillane
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooked
After loving Easy Riders and Raging Bulls I dismissed this because I thought the description was boring. I still think the description is boring but audiobook-wise it was great!
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cinema
Using the same blend of cultural history, sharp-witted (occasional waspish) film criticism, and pull-no-punches gossip as in his earlier (and brilliant) Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Biskind tells the story of independent US cinema in the 1990s and early 2000s, with a particular focus on the Sundance Festival and production company Miramax. Unlike with Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, which I treated in part as a guide to which 70s films I should I add to my rental queue, I'd already seen most of the fil ...more
Boris Lermontov
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
De entrada hay que partir de la base de que no es un libro sobre cine independiente, es un libro sobre Miramax y los hermanos Weinstein con otros personajes secundarios (Sundance, October Films) que van apareciendo de forma más o menos esporádica.

Tiene el mismo defecto que se le puede achacar al libro de Toros salvajes del mismo autor de centrarse en unos personajes concretos según le conviene para darle más forma de relato dejando de lado a otros igual de importantes, aunque aquí se nota de for
Dank Wit
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was the first time the primary means of my reading was via audiobook, and it left an impression. I actually feel this might be the best way to approach this text, as it rendered the miasma of suits and backstage players secondary to the narrative and disguised some of the author's flabbier writing. But i also kind of felt like taking a nice, long, scalding hot shower every time I paused the playback.

While ERRB awoke a passionate drive to fill some of the less (and most) seminal gaps in my f
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I docked a star because the first 15-20% was a bit of a slog but then I mowed through it after it got to the early 90s. It flicks between Miramax and Sundance but Miramax was more fascinating. He reads like a cartoon villain and can’t believe half the stuff that happened. Now I know what happened to some of the great movies that disappeared. Hopefully there’s an update because it was written in 2005 and there’s enough in the news for another book.
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fascinating, with some great insider information and thoughtful perspective on the industry. I'd say it's as good or better than Easy Riders, Raging Bulls but the 'in-progress' nature of the subject matter causes this to end on a "to be continued" note rather than providing an opportunity for reflection and retrospective.

I'd love to read an updated version that ends with either the Weinsteins leaving Miramax in 2005 or - better yet - one that runs up until 2017.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wanting to read this for a while, and in the wake of the Harvey sex scandal now is the perfect time. Man, and I thought he was a vile human being before! A fascinating insider account of many many movies I love. I learned more about movie making than I ever had before and appreciated the personal interviews of a number of my favorite actors and directors. Miramar is now bankrupt. To that I can say, Good.
Sonny Dyon
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great look at the burgeoning indie film scene of the early 90's. Really gives a glimpse into the monster that Harvey Weinstein was nearly three decades before he was revealed. Also shows how the democratization of filmmaking has changed the industry and the world of cinema.

I found it interesting and challenging and highly entertaining.
Greg Condon
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was pretty boring.Not as gossip-y as Easy Riders, just bunch of wheels and deals of "indie" studios. Though everyone in this book seems to have plenty of money before and after they make it in this shallow industry. Hard to drum up a lot of sympathy for these peoples' stories especially in light of recent revelations about many of the main subjects.
Nick Savage
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. Start to finish. It starts off sprinting and never slows. Peter Biskind has the ability to take reality and pace it like a non-stop action movie. The insights into the film business are better than most industry books I've read. call into work, cancel plans, set aside a day or two to read this, once you pick it up you won't put it down.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting and very very detailed acount of the birth and development of Miramax and Sundance, with a lot of fascinating little stories about particular films and directors along the way. Weinstein comes across as a thug.
Martin Wegner
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good

Enjoyed it. Apparently nobody read it over the past 20 years or else they would have been onto Harvey much earlier. I lived through the Golden age of the indies and it was pretty amazing. To be think we'll never see have that again is kind of sad.
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: pop-pop
Dishy history of 90s indie film industry. Come for the Tarentino and Kevin Smith stories, stay for years of documented abuse from Harvey Weinstein. No stories like the ones we've seen in the news these last weeks, but they seem well consistent with the portrayal here.
Dave Antoine
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Relevant today with the notoriety of film producer Harvey Weinstein and his much deserved downfall. This book profiles the rising indie film scene in America in the 90’s. At the center of it all is Weinstein at his worst. Hell of a read.
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
this aged poorly! a version of it that included interviews from more than a handful of women would have probably held up better!
andrew newkirk
Dec 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

That Weinstein sounds like a real jerk.
I bet you dollars to donuts he is related to that other Weinstein that's been in the news lately.
Kim Horrod
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Brilliant read for those interested in the film business and Miramax in particular
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
A quasi-sequel to Biskind’s Easy Riders Raging Bulls, which I re-devoured recently, Down and Dirty Pictures illuminates how the seeds the 70’s filmmaking mavericks planted sprouted a decade or so later. It is less about independent movies themselves as it is about the complicated process of how they are funded, how they get made and how they get distributed (or not distributed as it turns out). It starts in the mid-80’s but really gets going with the 1989 release of Steven Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies ...more
Nov 25, 2013 rated it liked it
This book focussed on two distribution companies, Miramax and October-USA-Focus, and the Sundance Film Festival, and aims to understand the independent film movement. This focus might help him deal with something as inchoate as this movement but it is a move away from the focus his last book on the personalities of New Hollywood, that makes the gap between his interest, personality and gossip, and his subject, the businesses and institutions behind the indie movement, a little uncomfortable. Apa ...more
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cinema, non-fiction
This book could have been subtitled 'Why Harvey Weinstein is a terrible human being and everything is his fault and you should really hate him'. Far too often, reading this book felt like reading one of those celebrity gossip magazines and I came very close to giving it one star.

It's full of unsourced quotes which are then "balanced" by parenthetic sourced quotes saying literally the exact opposite. I'm sure Harvey W. probably isn't a nice guy, probably has done a lot of not very nice things an
Feb 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting, but narrowly focused. Definitely worth a read for anyone interested in film or film history. The subtitle leads you to believe more time will be spent on Sundance than you get - I'd say the overall proportion is about 80/20 in Miramax's favor. Overall, an absorbing look at Miramax's birth, life cycle and gentle fade, with the occasional side trip to Utah. I'd say the writer really can't stand Redford personally and that makes it tough to judge how much of the stuff he says abou ...more
Jun 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: popular-culture
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 H ...more
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Peter Biskind is a cultural critic and film historian. He was the editor-in-chief of American Film magazine from 1981 to 1986, and the executive editor of Premiere from 1986 to 1996. His writing has appeared in scores of national publications, including Rolling Stone, Paris Match, the Nation, The New York Times, the Times of London, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as film journals such as Sight ...more
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