Friday, February 5, 2010

Peter Biskind's STAR bio of Warren Beatty--two perspectives.

Here's free-lance journalist Vanessa Grigoriadis' gossip-laden take on Peter Biskind's STAR--a gossip-laden biography of Warren Beatty:

And, for contrast, here's the Janet Maslin review which appeared a month earlier in THE NEW YORK TIMES:

To my point of view, the Maslin review is the more thoughtful of the two. But Grigoriadis does take notice of the continuing virus of male sexism towards women (be they journalists or artistic colleagues) in the Industry. And she was a victim of that sexism more recently when an on-the-money ROLLING STONE profile of troubled comic/HOWARD STERN SHOW regular Artie Lange received a boorish on-STERN rebuttal from Lange friend Norm Macdonald.

As for Warren Beatty, he had a great run from BONNIE AND CLYDE through REDS (excepting DOLLARS. THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN and THE FORTUNE--which I'm assuming he accepted because they were directed by Richard Brooks, George Stevens and Mike Nichols, respectively). ISHTAR, even when released, wasn't as bad a film as the let's-review-the-budget shallow nonsense that defined its reputation for the last twenty-three years. And BULWORTH was an honorable valedictory for Beatty-as-filmmaker--leaving aside the disaster-laden-career-finale of TOWN AND COUNTRY.

Maybe Beatty enjoys being all-but-retired and a late-in-life husband/father. Maybe Beatty can't get over seeing himself as the eternal old-school leading man to have a strictly behind-the-camera career as producer/director--or even to be a mere actor in other people's films.

But, in the end, Beatty's body of work as a filmmaker deserves to outlast the who-he-slept-with curiosities--and the books which focus more on the latter than the former.

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