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5.0 out of 5 stars the making.
A must have book for anyone wanting to go into the movie business.Miss Jane Hamsher really tells how each day has it's ups and downs, and what it takes to stick to your guns.I couldn't put the book down, or when I did , I looked forward to seeing what happened next.You won't be disappointed.
Published on Sept. 28 2011 by hollowseve

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3.0 out of 5 stars Too one-sided to be a trustworthy "behind-the-scenes" book.
The key to a really great "Behind-The-Scenes" book is an impartial perspective, and perhaps that is the one area this book falls short. Unfortunately, it isn't the only area.
Jane Hamsher can possibly be forgiven for not taking a step back and telling the facts without a personal slant to them; after all, she isn't a journalist, and this isn't really a...
Published on Feb. 12 2001 by Amazon Customer


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5.0 out of 5 stars the making., Sept. 28 2011
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A must have book for anyone wanting to go into the movie business.Miss Jane Hamsher really tells how each day has it's ups and downs, and what it takes to stick to your guns.I couldn't put the book down, or when I did , I looked forward to seeing what happened next.You won't be disappointed.
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2.0 out of 5 stars ., Jan. 19 2003
This review is from: Killer Instinct (Paperback)
I give 'Killer Instinct' this much: it was a quick and entertaining read -- a fun ride. The type of book you tear right through in a night. However, I find it difficult to take seriously Jane Hamsher's account of events. I find it curious that every single woman in this book is portrayed as a sweet, strong-willed, honest-to-goodness saint, worthy of enormous sympathy -- (not least of all, Jane Hamsher herself!) -- while almost every single man (save for one writer friend of hers) is portrayed as, more or less, an utter demon (at times, almost literally.)* Even her "partner in crime," Don Murphy is shown, at times, in a critical light -- but never Iron-Willed Jane. She is the very picture of patience and professionalism, often beset upon, but rarely (if ever) in error. It's interesting that at several points, particularly on the production of NBK, it is implied that a lot of people on the set are losing patience with her and are irritated by her presence -- but unfortunately, we don't have their side of the story, and as far as Jane is concerned, it is (always!) all miraculously due to their inability to handle the fact that she's a woman. (!!!) Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt there's plenty of sexism in Hollywood, but Hamsher's account, with its suspiciously unfailing tendency to portray every single woman as a flawless, tough-hearted angel, leads me to believe that this is not just a one-sided account, but quite possibly entirely out-of-whack, the rays of truth refracted wildly through Hamsher's "feminist fairytale" vision of her own experiences.
Additionally, I find it interesting that while initially very smitten with Tarantino's ideas and scripts, that as their professional ties go south, he magically turns into a thoroughly talentless hack, milking stolen ideas for all they're worth. But then she remembers that NBK is her dream project, and it was, of course, scripted by him -- drats! Thinking fast, she asserts that by far the best part of the script -- the TV sitcom parody -- was the work of her writer friend, not Tarantino. Well, uh ... OK.
Particularly priceless, though, is her initial (and I think only) direct encounter with Lawrence Bender, Tarantino's producer. They meet at a party, he says hello and is perfectly friendly and polite to her, and that's pretty much the extent of her experiences with him. Given that, it's pretty amazing (and terribly questionable) exactly how much hostility she has towards him and how much dirt she shovels in his direction throughout the rest of the book. Upon meeting him, she feels "queasy," shakes, and has to immediately leave the room for some air when they part! Why? Because she feels intuitively that she has just been in the presence of -- I believe she uses the term "jackal" -- but given the incredibly over-the-top way she describes it, the impression is more that of a "demon."* And why does she feel that way? Well, it's not one of those things you can explain, see, but essentially, it seems to mainly have to do with the fact that his eyes have a distant look to them. (They "recede into an emotional abyss when he speaks" according to Hamsher.)
I've never met Lawrence Bender, and I have no trouble believing that Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone and the host of other male Hollywood stars and hopefuls that appear in Hamsher's tale have their fair share of shortcomings and ballooned egos. Maybe a few of them really are even bad, dishonest people, through and though. Maybe. What I find more difficult to believe is that Hamsher and her coterie of oppressed agents and starlets and mother-figures are half as immaculate as they seem in the version of events she gives us here.
I also question the motivation for writing this book. A fun ride through the Hollywood system, or just an excuse to trash-talk people who've gone on to have more successful careers than she? Looking through Hamsher's filmography, I notice her unfailing tendency to grab interesting projects and turn them into mediocre films with mediocre earnings. It seems unlikely that Hamsher would ever deign to admit to an emotion as base as jealousy, but one wonders all the same.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Treated as a work of FICTION, it rates five stars, but..., Aug. 6 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Killer Instinct (Paperback)
...if this book were rated on its believability, it would rate one star or lower. While there are no doubt some grains of truth to the incidents it describes, other parts of it are utterly insane. Either there is a heavy degree of fabrication and embellishment, or Oliver Stone and company are COMPLETELY FREAKIN' NUTS! My money is on the former simply because so much of it is unrealistic: towards the end of the book, Jane tells about how Quentin Tarantino hit on her in Italy, and includes a picture of his letter to her, written in childish scrawl and including ridiculous misspellings of common words. It looks like it was written by a five-year-old! Either Mr. Tarantino was taking drugs, or he is in serious need of psychiatric help! Also, Oliver Stone is portrayed as a philanderer and a drug addict. However, there are plenty of other accounts of the productions of his films. The kind of behavior attributed to Mr. Stone in this book would stick out like a sore thumb. Why none of those other accounts have revealed more than a shade of those characteristics of his personality is beyond me! In other words, I believe Jane's account is heavily exaggerated.
Anyway, I don't mean for this to be completely negative, because the book is truly funny--the ominous buildup to meeting Oliver Stone after Jane and Don hear that he is interested in the project, the funny captions on the pictures, the crew doing psychedelic mushrooms during location scout in the desert, the prison riot, the film festival in Italy, etc. (Don't read this book in a library. You will die trying to stifle your laughter.)
This book is worth buying... but take everything it says with a heaping bowl of salt.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Player meets Living in Oblivion, Feb. 25 2002
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This review is from: Killer Instinct (Hardcover)
Nuts-and-bolts, wonderfully gossipy account of how to produce a movie .Hamsher's conversational tone draws you in and pulls you along on the wild ride that was the shoot for NBK.
Yes, she is somewhat self-aggrandizing (as one would expect from any decent producer), but her partner Don Murphy comes across extremely well. He's about the only one, though. Her portrait of Oliver Stone as a drug and sex-obsessed maniac is pitch-perfect (and believable).
Come to think of it, an enterprising director could make a damn good film out of this story (I see Sarah Polley as Hamsher, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Don Murphy, and Stanley Tucci as Oliver Stone.)
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3.0 out of 5 stars Too one-sided to be a trustworthy "behind-the-scenes" book., Feb. 12 2001
This review is from: Killer Instinct (Paperback)
The key to a really great "Behind-The-Scenes" book is an impartial perspective, and perhaps that is the one area this book falls short. Unfortunately, it isn't the only area.
Jane Hamsher can possibly be forgiven for not taking a step back and telling the facts without a personal slant to them; after all, she isn't a journalist, and this isn't really a straight forward making-of book (as the title says, its about the producers). What I can't bring myself to overlook is how badly one-sided and self-serving the book actually comes off as. To beleive this book to the fullest, you would have to go along with the idea that Jane Hamsher was the not only the sole reason this movie ever got made, but that it would have been a complete disaster if it wasn't for her. I really would have a problem with that, if she wasn't the one who kept underlining it as fact.
According to Jane, she was the lone sane voice amongst the madding crowd. She was responsible for the artistic choices that made the film great, and all of the decisions that made them happen. Of course, everybody else was wrong, so each choice she made was an uphill battle. Not just because she was the only smart and sane person, but also because she was the only woman amongst a crowd of stupid men.
Its sad, but it seems she spends half the time painting the ultimate feminist picture on how it took a woman to do a man's job. I'm sure in some cases that was true, but she makes it as if the weight of all responsability was resting on her shoulders. She seems to take great pleasure in repeatedly pointing out that she has to dress her own production partner, and shows contempt for the men that were afraid to let her on the set where convicted murdurers and rapists were running around loose "pretending" to riot. She also spends a great deal of time obsessing on Oliver Stones questionable attitude towards women, and successfully transfers those insecurities to most of the crew as well. Whenever someone disagrees with her, they are either stupid or afraid of a woman in power. Those silly men!
Between the holier-than-thou attitude and hear-me-roar male bashing, there was some great info on the shooting of the film, but not nearly enough. And what info there is must be taken with a grain of salt, when you realize that its all told to make her look good (see: perfect). If you want to hear a producer pat herself on the back (at the expense of everybody else involved in the film) over and over again than this is the book for you. If you want the real story on the making of Natural Born Killers, you might want to look elsewhere.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Guts, Aug. 9 2000
By 
Peter Kahn (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Killer Instinct (Paperback)
I loved this book. It takes you on a wonderful journey from the depths of living the unrealized dream through the real nightmare of producing a big budget Hollywood film. While books like this have been written before, Killer Instinct is unique in two ways: it chronicles the making of one of the most controversial films of the 90s and the writing is fantastic. Hamsher throws all the emotions of the moment into her writing; despair, madness, anger, joy, hope and a multitude of others. Most important for me were Hamsher's conclusions at the end of the book, particularly the lesson of finding and keeping a good partner for the perils ahead. Hamsher is my hero; for her bravery, her courage of convictions, and her "never-give-up" approach in being able to make it in the "Boy's Club". Well written, fast paced, funny and inspiring, "Killer Instinct" is my solid recommendation for any aspiring producer's bookshelf.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes outrageously funny, sometimes uselessly mean, Oct. 18 1999
This review is from: Killer Instinct (Paperback)
The book of Jane Hamsher relates how two inexperienced "producers" fresh out of a film school acquired the rights to "Natural Born Killers", the screenplay of an obscure aspiring filmmaker named Quentin Tarantino. It goes on describing brilliantly how this modest acquisition (10.000 $) became suddenly hot property when Tarantino hit the jackpot in Sundance with his first feature, "Reservoir Dogs". And becomes outrageously funny when it shows how agents, "passionate" directors and screenwriters are all at cut throats with each other trying to put their hands on that treasure, which (not surprisingly) Quentin Tarantino does not want to be made as a film any more. But there is no way they will let Quentin getting back his rights, because even Oliver Stone has now in mind to direct it. Yes, as the book says, "the" Oliver Stone. Thanks for the description of the antics of this "three Oscar celebrity" and how he succeeded in turning a disturbing but modest "Tarantino movie" into what most qualified a hopelessly overblown mess. But the book could have left aside the internal disputes in the production staff, which will not remain in Hollywood's hall of fame. More than anything else, it should have abstained from attacking endlessly Quentin Tarantino for being what he is, an extremely gifted screenwriter and director. (After all, why did they buy HIS screenplay in the first place?)
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great Hollywood tale from a female point of view, June 29 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Killer Instinct (Paperback)
In KILLER INSTINCT, producer Jane Hamsher tells the story of how she came to be involved in making the film NATURAL BORN KILLERS, one of the most controversial movies of the decade. From meetings with original (then unknown) story scribe Quentin Tarantino to defending the violence of the picture overseas with Oliver Stone, Hamsher takes us on a whirlwind journey through the Hollywood system. I'm not a huge fan of NATURAL BORN KILLERS, but found myself totally absorbed in this book. The story of how the movie got made should be extremely interesting to anyone interested in the subject of filmmaking, and Jane tells it with lots of humor and visual style.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A book that's not afraid to blast the industry., Oct. 1 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Killer Instinct (Hardcover)
It was refreshing to read a book by Hollywood insiders that isn't afraid to be honest. Hamsher's often-scathing perspectives on big egos such as Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone was both satsfying and entertaining. Natural Born Killers wasn't a great film but this book gives you an idea of what might have been...
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1.0 out of 5 stars Wake Up!!!, Oct. 1 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Killer Instinct (Paperback)
Why do we need a book about the evil insides of Hollywood?? Not only is this book flooded in self-promotion and third-rate insights, it serves no purpose. Bravery isn't writing a book about how bad the Hollywood film industry, bravery is DIRECTING that movie and taking the heat from THE PRODUCER if it fails. Remember, society judges by the auteur theory, which means the director takes full responsibility for the film.
Plus, like an earlier review stated, if you need to read a book about this sort of thing, you probably don't realize the following: there is no Santa Claus, Rosebud was his sled, and soap opera stars don't exist in real life. "Killer Instinct" serves as a way for a typical producer to get more of what they're REALLY after -- money and attention.
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Killer Instinct
Killer Instinct by Jane Hamsher (Paperback - June 1 1998)
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