Curtis Hanson, a gifted director whose devotion to cinema knew no bounds and who enjoyed a nearly 30-year run of potency from ’78’s The Silent Partner (Hanson’s superb script was directed by Daryl Duke) to ’05’s In Her Shoes, was found dead today. He was 71. The poor guy had been out of the game for the last four-plus years due to Alzheimer’s disease, but he was one of the near-greats and a first-rate human being — brilliant, warm-hearted, a good listener, perceptive.
I knew Curtis somewhat, especially during his hot-streak run between the early ’90s and mid-aughts, and he was always friendly and, when questions arose, as candid as the situation allowed. Hanson came to one of my Hot-Shot Movies classes in September ’97 to screen L.A. Confidential and field questions. I remember saying to the crowd that Confidential was a brilliant translation of a dense and sprawling James Ellroy novel, and was like a beautifully assembled Swiss watch, every shot, line and scene contributing smartly to the whole and fitting together just so.
Confidential was Hanson’s best film — nobody will dispute that. But he also directed (and forgive me for repeating myself) the under-rated Losin’ It (Tom Cruise and his teenage pals getting into trouble in Tijuana), The Bedroom Window (’87), Bad Influence (’90), The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (’92), The River Wild (’94), Wonder Boys (’00 — a great stoner flick), 8 Mile (’02) and In Her Shoes. Ten serious winners.
In his review of Criterion’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller Bluray, DVD Beaver’s Gary W. Tooze, who always emphasizes the positive and almost always bends over backwards to minimize adverse judgment, seems to be expressing displeasure, at least as far as my understanding of the English language is concerned. He’s not exactly panning the Criterion Bluray but he’s certainly not jumping for joy. Be honest — how do you feel about buying a Bluray that makes a film look “occasionally greenish and sometimes very brown, flat, dull and thick“?
Tooze recalls that during a Toronto Bell Lightbox panel in 2014, McCabe dp Vilmos Zsigmond said that “if they had movies in [the frontier] days they would look faded away, scratchy, grainy and very soft and no contrast.” To achieve this look Zsigmond used flashing (exposing negative to light) to underexpose the film. And so, Tooze writes, “we have a brief understanding of how McCabe & Mrs. Miller was intended to visually appear. The final product, he acknowledges, is “probably wholly authentic to the filmmakers’ wishes.”
I get and respect the misty, somber, brownishly subdued, lantern-lit rainy thing, but “occasionally greenish”?
The supermarket tabs announcing an imminent Brangelina breakup has been a non-thing for years (glance at and dismiss the check-out headlines in less than two seconds) but once in a blue moon these mustard-gas stories turn out to be right. Or more precisely the National Enquirer nails it. Last December the Enquirer breathlessly bannered a $450 divorcement settlement story (said to be rooted in cheating), but then it was denied two months later. But today legit news orgs said it’s true, and, according to Page Six, the split happened over Angie having learned through a private investigator that Brad was putting the high hard one to Marion Cotillard, his Allied costar. If nothing else this domestic tragedy (their kids Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, Knox and Vivienne will suffer bruises) will almost certainly boost Allied‘s box-office, but will it harm or hurt whatever awards-related opportunities it might have? Robert Zemeckis‘ World War II drama, distributed by Paramount, pops on 11.23.
Jennifer Lawrence to Chris Pratt at 39-second mark: “So why did you give up the rye funner?” The question makes Pratt uncomfortable; ditto Michael Sheen, the leg-less robot bartender. Me too but for a different reason. I’ve read the Passengers script twice, and I don’t have clue #1 what a “rye funner” is. So this morning I re-read the date scene (pages 63 and 64) and…you guessed it, no “rye funner.” I’m sure someone will explain.