Killer Instinct

Jane Hamsher, Author
Jane Hamsher, Author Broadway Books $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7679-0074-4
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-7679-0075-1
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-553-06914-3
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As fledgling film producers with more ambition than money or clout, Hamsher and her partner Don Murphy, working out of her apartment, optioned a script in 1990 by a then-unknown Quentin Tarantino, a road movie about two serial killers called Natural Born Killers. This memoir follows Hamsher and Murphy as they wheedle, beg, finagle and bully various higher and lower orders of Hollywood life to get the movie made, struggling all the while to keep themselves associated with the project. There are lawsuits, screaming matches, backstabbing, double-crosses--but, most of all, there is Oliver Stone. While Tarantino comes across as a petulant child, Stone appears as a brilliant monster straight out of The Player--manipulative, charming, promiscuous, cruel, substance-abusing and paranoid. In Hamsher's self-serving account, Stone is both the best and worst possible director for the film--edgy and brilliant, but dangerously insecure and terrifying to work for. Hamsher's prose is sometimes clumsy, and her portrait of herself is not as charming as she seems to intend--it's never clear if she understands how appalling all this bad behavior, including her own, might be to an outsider--but her book is never, ever dull. Energetic, sometimes hilarious, often unpleasant, much of this volume is wicked fun, a warts-and-all portrait of moviemaking on the edge that is liable to become necessary reading for ambitious young filmmakers. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)
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