Published Feb 10, 2011"He's 50-percent genius, 50-percent asshole." That's how one former acquaintance describes movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. If you don't recognize his name, you've seen his movies: Sex, Lies, and Videotape, The Crying Game, The Pianist, Slingblade, Good Will Hunting, Shakespeare in Love, Scream, Gangs of New York, not to mention every Tarantino picture.
Weinstein and introverted brother Bob built Miramax (the most powerful indie distribution and production company in American film) through aggressive marketing and a sharp eye for movies. Miramax ushered in the golden age of '90s cinema when small, un-commercial films hit the mainstream. That streak ended after Harvey mauled the arm that fed him – Disney – which bankrolled Miramax until Harvey's infamous temper and overspending torched that bridge to ashes.
Weinstein's legend is as great as his girth and his personality as dramatic as The English Patient. Unauthorized explores his ego and complex character largely through interviews with the likes of Martin Scorsese, John Irving, Patricia Rozema (I Heard The Mermaids Singing), movie producers, former Miramax employees, TIFF CEO Piers Handling and many high-end film critics. Notably missing are directors like Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Michael Moore, any stars of his movies and anybody named Weinstein. Harvey's star doesn't shine as bright these days, but evidently he still holds many people within his orbit.
The casual moviegoer will gasp upon hearing stories of Harvey Scissorhands ruthlessly re-editing films and hurling telephones at employees, but film freaks will learn nothing new. Perhaps it's the lack of access to Harvey's inner circle, but director Barry Avrich (who also made The Last Mogul about Lew Wasserman) has gone easy on his subject by withholding any harsh judgments. Unauthorized is entertaining, but not revelatory. (Melbar)