Art Linson is hardly a household name, but if you’re a movie fan, chances are you’ve heard it before. Linson has produced such profitable and critically acclaimed films as “The Untouchables,” “Heat” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”
However, What Just Happened?, Linson’s second book, focuses not on those highs, but on some of his lows. In this funny and occasionally cringe-inducing memoir, Linson details his involvement in admirable but generally unprofitable movies such as “The Edge,” “Great Expectations,” “Pushing Tin” and “Fight Club.” Though each has its defenders, all of the movies were financial disappointments (the only exception is “Fight Club,” which eventually made a profit on video and DVD), and Linson’s dissection of his failures is harrowing, but not totally without compassion.
His defense of the controversial “Fight Club” is especially moving, particularly during a conversation with an executive who is appalled that Linson finds the film funny.
Like most books about moviemaking, the best parts of What Just Happened? center around quirky anecdotes and gossip: Alec Baldwin refusing to shave a scraggly beard for his role in “The Edge”; a studio executive complaining about a pre-fame Gwyneth Paltrow’s lack of chin; Robert DeNiro’s exhaustive hemming and hawing before eventually during down the Anthony Hopkins role in “The Edge.”
And yet, the book is unlikely to appeal to those who aren’t rabid movie fans. Though Linson’s insider’s guide has plenty to recommend it, the fact is that not a lot of people are itching to know the story behind “Pushing Tin,” or the even less successful “Sunset Strip,” which opened in only one theater.
Still, for those who are so inclined, What Just Happened? is a riveting, revealing read.