Hits, Flops and Other Illusions

Hits Flops and Other IllusionsAnother theme to emerge from the genre of movie people who’ve written their memoirs during the pandemic for want of something better to do is one where aged stars or directors who now recognise most of their work is behind them decide to vent their frustrations by telling their behind the scenes stories and naming names in the bargain.

Unless you’re a very dedicated cineaste you probably don’t know Ed Zwick’s name, but he created TV show thirtysomething back in the 80s and made films like 1989 Civil War drama Glory, scarily prescient New York-set 1998 terrorism drama The Siege, 2010 Jake Gyllenhaal/Anne Hathaway romcom Love and Other Drugs and overblown 2003 Tom Cruise vehicle The Last Samurai.

With his last film, 2018’s Trial By Fire, having sunk without a trace, it seems Zwick put himself firmly in a new position – turn his back on his Hollywood career and fire a few salvos out of the window as he does so.

He tells the story of his career chronologically in chapters that deal with each new project – some very successful, some that never got off the ground – and like many similar tomes that have come out of post-Covid years, most of the value is in the peek behind the curtain.

Some targets are easy. Like many others have done so now the central villain is safely out of the industry and in prison, he puts the boot right into Harvey Weinstein, who not only screwed him out of directing 1998 Best Picture Oscar winner Shakespeare in Love after Zwick got the project off the ground but sidelined him from the credit he deserved as a producer too.

And some are hilarious. When Matthew Broderick, one of the hottest young stars in the business after Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, had concerns with the Glory script, he flew to the Georgia set to talk to Zwick… along with his mother, who proceeded to rewrite the movie to her liking as a condition of his involvement.

It’s not all backhanded bitchiness though. Zwick has seen and created a lot of movie magic – his description of Denzel Washington’s process is pretty fascinating – and if you’re a movie fan it’s another one very worth your time.