Monday, July 16, 2012

Finished listening to the audio-book version of Peter Biskind's Star, the biography of Warren Beatty. I don't care about the overwhelming and unavoidable sex and gossip portions of Beatty's life, but I am always interested in behind-the-scenes movie stuff. I also seem to remember finding Biskind's other movie themed books like Easy Riders Raging Bulls very interesting.

When I think of Warren Beatty I think of Ishtar. I am fairly neutral on the movie, but I have a friend who counts it as one of his all time favourites. It's one of the go-to examples I use in my believe that movies are subjective and not objective in their good / bad status. I also think of Dick Tracy, a very good comic book movie that Warren should have stayed behind-the-scenes on. Look at a Dick Tracy comic strip, look at Warren Beatty, those two images do not mesh up.

Warren Beatty's career is an interesting one to track, from pretty boy leading man to respected award filmmaker. Like many an artist no matter the medium, it's also a bit of a tortured, messed up and sad one. He seems like one of those type's who you'd want to shake by the shoulders and tell to chill out.

His train-wrecks also greatly outnumber his cinematic successes. Financial successes like Heaven Can Wait and Shampoo seem like a long time ago when compared to the likes of Love Affair, Town & Country, and the aforementioned Ishtar. Then the critical successes like Reds made no money, and Dick Tracey seemed to be on the heels of and overshadowed by Batman.

The good news for Warren is that he has stepped out of the spotlight into a pleasant life of marriage and fatherhood, and of course has enough money in the bank so he doesn't have to worry about landing that next gig. The bad news is that he may be doomed to a legacy of diva fits, lack of professionalism and stumbling out of what could have been a legendary career.

Especially telling is when you consider an actor turned filmmaker of a similar age to Warren like Clint Eastwood. Unlike Warren, Clint continues to make films and shows no sign of slowing down, having directed, produced and acted over a dozen projects in the last 10 years alone. Clint also has a reputation for being laid back with his crew and only making actors do two or three takes. All while enjoying box office success and awards well into his 80's.

Star is an interesting story, and by the time you finish it up you learn the simple and valuable lesson that things turn out better for you if you are not a jerk.

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