Oscar Profile #445: Curtis Hanson

Born March 24, 1945 in Reno, Nevada and raised in Los Angeles, Curtis Hanson’s mother was a real estate agent, and his father, a teacher.

Hanson dropped out of school in his senior year but was later made entertainment editor of the Cal State L.A. campus newspaper, despite not being a student there. His uncle, editor of Cinema magazine, hired him as a gofer and he eventually became a photographer, editor and art director where he interviewed numerous Hollywood legends including John Ford, Vincente Minnelli, William Wyler and Dalton Trumbo. His first film credit was as one of three writers of the screenplay for 1970’s The Dunwich Horror directed by Daniel Haller from H.P. Lovecraft’s story.

Hanson’s directorial debut came with 1972’s Sweet Kill, a horror thriller starring Tab Hunter as a serial killer. He later directed 1977’s Evil Town and 1979’s The Little Dragons, but neither attracted much attention. Two 1983 films, Losin’ It starring Tom Cruise and Never Cry Wolf starring Charles Martin Smith, which he wrote but didn’t direct, were more successful but the film that put him on the Hollywood map was 1987’s The Bedroom Window starring Steve Guttenberg, Elizabeth McGovern and Isabelle Huppert.

Having hit pay dirt with The Bedroom Window, Hanson continued directing successful thrillers with 1990’s Bad Influence starring Rob Lowe and James Spader 1992’s The Hand That Rocks the Cradle starring Annabella Sciorra and Rebecca De Mornay, 1994’s The River Wild starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon and 1997’s L.A> Confidential starring Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce and Kim Basinger. The latter received 11 Oscar nominations including three for Hanson for writing, producing and directing. He won for writing.

L.A. Confidential was the best reviewed film of 1997, winning the lion’s share of the year’s film critics’ awards but it lost the Oscar to the box-office phenomenon, Titanic.

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This Day in Oscar History: May 23 (2019)

Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.

Born

Died

Released

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Poll: What Are You Watching? (May 24-26, 2019)

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What Are You Watching? (May 24-26, 2019)

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Film Preview: Hampstead (2019)

Page Revisions:

(May 19, 2019) Original

Release Date:

June 14, 2019

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “An American widow finds unexpected love with a man living wild on Hampstead Heath when they take on the developers who want to destroy his home.”

Poster Rating: –


Review: There was no poster immediately available for my review. Should one become available in the future, this section will be updated.

Trailer Rating: B-

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Review: A mildly diverty, modestly funny trailer that puts two fine actors through their paces with minimal challenge.

Oscar Prospects:

None.

Trailer #1

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Film Preview: Judy (2019)

Page Revisions:

(May 19, 2019) Original

Release Date:

September 27, 2019

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “Legendary performer Judy Garland arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts.”

Poster Rating: C+

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Review: That white background is distracting, as is the floral print dress. The glittery golden title is fitting, but also a bit tacky.

Trailer Rating: B-

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Review: There isn’t enough here to rush to judgement, but as a first glimpse, Renée Zellweger appears to have the right mannerisms to astound as the legendary Judy Garland. We’ll see how it works out.

Oscar Prospects:

The film’s quality may be in question and its Oscar chances are unfathomable right now, but based on the first trailer, Oscar winner Renée Zellweger may well be back in the competition this year for Best Actress.

Trailer #1

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2019 Blockbuster Season Preview: June

Here we look at the upcoming month’s offerings.

June 7, 2019

Dark Phoenix

Premise: From IMDb: “Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix. Now the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all the people living in the world.”
Box Office Prospects: $175 M
Expectations: Good. While Disney hasn’t been the best marketers for their former Fox properties, the advertising here has been adequate. That said, although the original series of films were quite popular, the new series and cast has been less so, so I don’t expect to high a climb for this film.
Oscar Prospects: Weak. The Fox Marvel films have seldom fared well with the Oscars and I don’t see this one overcoming everything else Disney will likely promote ahead of it.
Cinema Sight Preview: See my preview of this title here.

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Looking at the Weekend: May 24-26, 2019

With Avengers: Endgame effectively dethroned and John Wick: Chapter 3 debuting strong, the three new releases will have to overpower it to hit number one. Aladdin should be more than capable of accomplishing that. BrightBurn will either soar or falter and Booksmart will struggle opening wide.

Our Highest Rated Films: Aladdin
Our Best Awards Ratings: Aladdin

OTHER LIMITED RELEASES

Echo in the Canyon
Funny Story
Halston
India’s Most Wanted
The Proposal

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2019 Oscar Nominations Predictions: The Beginning

As is our tradition, May begins our first predictive look at the year’s Oscar hopefuls. A lot of factors will play into how well our guesses hold up. Expect many of them to fall by the wayside as the year progresses and new contenders to rise into their places.

As Spring turns into Summer, thoughts of next year’s Oscars start trickling into our subconscious thoughts. With our first predictions, it’s always interesting to see where everyone stands, where the early consensus is, and then compare later to the end results. Looking at only six categories (Picture, Directing, and the four acting awards), it’s interesting to note that six films make all four of our lists. Another fifteen appear on three. Out of a total of 35 potential nomination slots, that’s a surprisingly strong group of aligned predictions. We’ll see how things change over the months as we hope to have new predictions up every month through the end of the year, adding more categories as we go.

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This Day in Oscar History: May 22 (2019)

Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.

Born

Died

Released

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Trailer Watch: Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2019) Updated

New Trailer (#2) / New Poster (#2)

Where’d You Go, Bernadette, updated

Preview Link: CLICK HERE for all of the new content as well as the original.

Trailer Watch: The Dead Don’t Die (2019) Updated

New Trailer (#2) / New Posters (#2-#5)

The Dead Don’t Die, updated

Preview Link: CLICK HERE for all of the new content as well as the original.

The DVD Report #621

This Gun for Hire, The Big Clock, The Landlord, The Bedroom Window, and The House of Games have all now been given Blu-ray upgrades.

Alan Ladd had been in films since 1932, mostly in uncredited roles, when talent agent Sue Carol took charge of his career and the actor himself, marrying him in 1942, the year of his breakthrough performance as the tough-as-nails hitman in Frank Tuttle’s This Gun for Hire, a property that Paramount had been sitting on for six years.

Taken from a Graham Greene novel, the plot of This Gun for Hire is a bit convoluted, but it was the perfect vehicle for the type of film that would come to be known as film noir. Ladd was fourth billed below Veronica Lake as a nightclub singer whose fiancé Robert Preston is the local prosecutor, the only two actors billed above the title. Laird Cregar (two years before The Lodger) is the mob boss who hires Ladd to kill blackmailer Frank Ferguson and his girlfriend and then double-crosses him. He’s also the owner the nightclub in which Lake is performing.

Preston (Beau Geste) and Lake (Sullivan’s Travels) had no chemistry together, but Ladd and Lake in their one scene together sizzled, so much so that Paramount had the screenwriters add scene after scene for the two to appear in together. It would be the first of seven films in which the two appeared together, the most famous besides This Gun for Hire being 1942’s The Glass Key and 1946’s The Blue Dahlia.

Commentary on the Shout Select 4K restoration is provided by film historians Alan K. Rode and Steve Mitchell who also provided the commentary on The Glass Key and The Blue Dahlia, both of which were previously released by Shout Select.

Films noir don’t come any finer than 1948’s The Big Clock, directed by John Farrow (Wake Island), starring Ray Milland, Charles Laughton, and both Farrow’s wife (Maureen O’Sullivan) and Laughton’s (Elsa Lanchester).

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This Day in Oscar History: May 21 (2019)

Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.

Born

Died

Released

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Poll: Now That You’ve Seen “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”

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Now That You’ve Seen John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum…?

Cinema Sight Asks: Now that you've seen "John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum," which Keanu Reeves performance is best?

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Film Preview: Funan (2019)

Page Revisions:

(May 19, 2019) Original

Release Date:

June 7, 2019

Synopsis:

From IMDb: “The survival and the struggle of a young mother during the Khmer Rouge revolution, to find her 4-year-old son, torn from his family by the regime.”

Poster Rating: B- / B-

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Review: (#1) A symbolic design that balances color and imagery well. (#2) Another fine use of color, this design is a little more staid, but no less beautiful.

Trailer Rating: B- / B

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Review: (#1) The first, short trailer makes an interesting case for time and place, but not as much on premise.

(#2) The second does a much better job presenting the story with interesting detail and plenty of beauty.

Oscar Prospects:

This is the kind of animated feature that surprises and picks up an Animated Feature nomination, possibly even competes for a Best International Feature nomination.

Trailer #1

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