Back in February I saw a movie that really took me by surprise. The one-sheet featured a leering and barely recognizable Michæl Douglas with the title emblazoned Wonder Boys. My first thought was that this was a film about pedophiles and I dreaded going to the screening initially. When I discovered that the film was from Curtis Hanson, the director behind “LA Confidential” (nine Oscar nominations), I knew I wouldn’t allow the awful poster to stop me. I had to go. “LA Confidential” was a powerhouse of great performances, clever writing and cool ambiance — which is the kind of statement you read from the movie quote whores all the time, except in this case it was actually true. Based on this, I had to see what Wonder Boys was about. I was blown away. Superb, subtle and damn smart. Even though Wonder Boys opened to critical acclaim, it faded fast at the box office, the unfortunate barometer for success in Hollywood these days.
In defense of the marketing people at Paramount Pictures, Wonder Boys is a tough sell. It’s certainly a different role for its star Michæl Douglas, who doesn’t play a rich asshole for a change. It’s a quirky comedy/drama about a college professor/novelist having the worst day of his life and it features an ensemble cast with Robert Downey, Jr, Toby Maguire, Katie Holmes and Frances McDormand. Okay, my description doesn’t do the film justice, suffice it to say, forget the poster, forget my lame description just go see this picture.
At the center is Wonder Boys‘s director Curtis Hanson. He never graduated college but got his education in film writing for a magazine called “Cinema” as a teenager. There he had the opportunity to interview filmmakers and heroes like John Cassavettes and received knowledge no film school could provide. Curtis then followed by writing screenplays eventually directing suspense thrillers like “The Bedroom Window,” “Bad Influence,” and “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle.” The film that really broke his career wide open was “LA Confidential.” Oscar-winning movies tend to do that. Rather than follow that film up with something easy and commercial, Curtis took a pay cut along with the cast and put his heart into Wonder Boys. Not many films get a second chance, but Curtis is happy that Wonder Boys will get one. Paramount actually broke their video contracts to rerelease Wonder Boys in theaters this week. And it’s got a whole new poster.
Get the whole story directly from this Oscar-winning director and learn about “LA Confidential,” Kim Basinger, Russell Crowe, Michæl Douglas, Toby Maguire, pink robes and the importance of movie posters in WONDER DIRECTOR: A CURTIS HANSEN INTERVIEW (part 2)>>>
Posted on November 4, 2000 in Interviews by Chris Gore
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