Biskind, Peter

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Biskind, Peter

CAREER:

Writer and movie critic. American Film, editor-in-chief; Premier, executive editor. Has appeared on film and television, including Hollywood, D.C., 2000; Hidden Values: The Movies of the Fifties, 2001; The E! True Hollywood Story, 2004; and Edge of Outside, 2006.

WRITINGS:

Seeing Is Believing: How Hollywood Taught Us to Stop Worrying and Love the Fifties, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1983.

The Godfather Companion: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about All Three Godfather Films, HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 1990.

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock-‘n’-Roll Generation Saved Hollywood, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.

Cinema Nation: The Best Writing on Film from "The Nation," 1913-2000, Thunder's Mouth Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.

Gods and Monsters: Thirty Years of Writing on Film and Culture from One of America's Most Incisive Writers, Nation Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to periodicals.

ADAPTATIONS:

Down and Dirty Pictures has been optioned for film by Palm-Star Entertainment.

SIDELIGHTS:

Peter Biskind has made show business his business by editing and contributing to the periodicals American Film and Premiere and writing books on films, including Seeing Is Believing: How Hollywood Taught Us to Stop Worrying and Love the Fifties, The Godfather Companion: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about All Three Godfather Films, and Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock-‘n’-Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. Biskind discusses thirty-two movies made between 1948 and 1960 in Seeing Is Believing. He analyzes the political biases and conflicts of the films in their portrayal of gender roles and minorities as well as their depiction of conformity and protest. A Choice contributor called Seeing Is Believing "a very lively and well-written book" and remarked that the author's "knowledge and scope are impressive." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that, while Biskind can verge on the pedantic in Seeing Is Believing, he has a "fluid writing style that conveys insights cleverly." Biskind's "meaty analyses" in Seeing Is Believing "will appeal to serious film buffs," observed William Bradley Hooper in Booklist.

With a separate chapter covering each movie in the Godfather movie trilogy, Biskind's The Godfather Companion is a cornucopia of anecdotes and trivia based on research and interviews with many of the people who made the films. Discussing The Godfather Companion, Films in Review contributor John Nagle declared that "here's a title that more than lives up to its book jacket."

Paraphrasing a famous line from The Godfather ("I'll make him an offer he can't refuse"), a Variety contributor observed that "for hardcore fans, Biskind's effort is an impossible offer to refuse."

In Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film, Biskind presents an in-depth examination of the 1990's independent film industry, or "indies." Biskind writes primarily about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein of Miramax in stark contrast to film star and Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford. In the process, he also profiles numerous film directors who started as independents, as well as actors such as Billy Bob Thornton and Ben Affleck. Gregory McNamee, writing in the Hollywood Reporter, noted: "Biskind's whirlwind ride through indie film's short-lived golden age is both fascinating and maddening." In a review in Dailey Variety, Timothy M. Gray noted that the author "has got people to go on the record and offer details of their finances and feuds—no small feat in the closed-mouth film biz." A Publishers Weekly contributor referred to Down and Dirty Pictures as a "gritty, ferocious, compulsively readable book."

Gods and Monsters: Thirty Years of Writing on Film and Culture from One of America's Most Incisive Writers includes a wide range of the authors' writings about film, beginning with pieces from the 1960s. "His early work is represented in this collection by thoughtful essays," wrote Gordon Flagg in Booklist. A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that the "writings … show, besides his undisputable eye for critiquing the form, the evolution of a writer from starchy ideologue to celebrity profiler."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 15, 1983, William Bradley Hooper, review of Seeing Is Believing: How Hollywood Taught Us to Stop Worrying and Love the Fifties, p. 460; January 1, 2005, Gordon Flagg, review of Gods and Monsters: Thirty Years of Writing on Film and Culture from One of America's Most Incisive Writers, p. 798.

Business Week, February 11, 2004, review of Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film.

Choice, March, 1984, review of Seeing Is Believing, p. 987.

Daily Variety, January 6, 2004, Timothy M. Gray, review of Down and Dirty Pictures, p. 2.

Entertainment Weekly, December 17, 2004, Benjamin Svetkey, review of Gods and Monsters, p. 89.

Films in Review, June, 1991, John Nagle, review of The Godfather Companion: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about All Three Godfather Movies, p. 202.

Hollywood Reporter, January 14, 2004, Gregory McNamee, review of Down and Dirty Pictures, p. 16.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2004, review of Gods and Monsters, p. 1033.

New York Times Magazine, January 25, 2004, A.O. Scott, review of Down and Dirty Pictures, p. 13.

People, March 8, 2004, Oliver Jones, "Sounds Off Peter Biskind," interview with author, p. 40.

Publishers Weekly, September 23, 1983, review of Seeing Is Believing, p. 70; January 5, 2004, review of Down and Dirty Pictures, p. 55; September 4, 2006, "Picture Show Man," discusses film option, p. 12.

Spectator, September 18, 2004, Frederic Raphael, review of Down and Dirty Pictures, p. 49.

Variety, January 28, 1991, review of The Godfather Companion, p. 87; January 12, 2004, Timothy M. Gray, review of Down and Dirty Pictures, p. 47.

ONLINE

BFI.org,http://www.bfi.org.uk/ (November 20, 2006), "Defining ‘Independent,’" interview with author.

Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (November 30, 2006), information on author's film work.

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