Simon Likes

With summer just around the corner, there’s no better time to reread some of your favourite books. We asked our charming staff at Simon & Schuster Canada to share some of their top picks with you. Next up, Senior Publicist Max suggests Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind.

I love books on film, both criticism and behind-the-scenes stuff. A couple of my favourites are The Biographical Dictionary of Film by David Thomson (thousands of great 1000-word-or-so entries; on Keira Knightley: “…about as interesting as a creme brulée where too much refrigeration has killed flavour with ice burn”) and Shock Value by Jason Zinoman about the golden age that was 1970s horror.

The latter is obviously descended from Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind which breaks-down another 1970s golden age: that of the American auteur who made movies for the mainstream. Easy Rider, a strange movie that feels like it sprung ex nihilo from its writer (Peter Fonda) and its director (Dennis Hopper), made so much money that it paved the way for a decade of idiosyncratic film. Some of them, like Chinatown, Taxi Driver, and The Deer Hunter, are masterpieces that also made profit. Others like Personal Best and especially Heaven’s Gate are much lesser movies. The latter, directed by Michael Cimino, with its huge over-budget, Cimino’s on-set fascism, and animal-abuse as special effects, is generally thought to be the film that actually killed the auteur. After Heaven’s Gate, studios stopped giving individual artists so much money and power and they focused on inoffensive, packaged films (though I do love Top Gun as much as the next guy).

Read an excerpt from the book.