Monday 19 March 2018

Director and Oscar-winning writer Curtis Hanson dies

Curtis Hanson in 2007 (AP)
Curtis Hanson in 2007 (AP)

Curtis Hanson, who won a screenwriting Oscar for LA Confidential, directed psychological thriller The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and Eminem's tale of Detroit hip-hop, 8 Mile, has died.

Paramedics declared Hanson, 71, dead at his Hollywood Hills home on Tuesday afternoon, Los Angeles police spokesman Tony Im said, adding that he died of natural causes.

A native of Reno, Nevada, who grew up in Los Angeles, Hanson dropped out of high school to work as a photographer, writer and editor for the magazine Cinema.

"It was, in a sense, my film school," he said in a 2002 interview with the Guardian.

He began screenwriting and directing in the early 1970s, but did not see serious success until directing 1992's The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. The film starring Rebecca De Mornay as a revenge-seeking nanny became a major hit.

Hanson went on to direct 1994's The River Wild with Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon, and 2000's Wonder Boys with Tobey Maguire and Michael Douglas.

His breakthrough as an acclaimed film-maker came with 1997's LA Confidential, which he co-wrote and directed.

Hanson was lauded for taking James Ellroy's massive novel about cops, criminals and tabloid rags in 1950s Los Angeles and streamlining it into a riveting thriller without losing its nuance.

Hanson and co-writer Brian Helgeland won the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay and Hanson was nominated for best director and the movie for best picture.

LA. Confidential introduced Russell Crowe to American audiences and was a career high point for many of those involved, including Kim Basinger, who also won an Oscar.

Hanson explored a different sort of darkness in 8 Mile, the film starring Eminem that explored the gritty streets and trailer parks of Detroit and closely mirrored the rapper's younger life.

Hanson chose to shoot the movie in the actual burned-out homes and vacant shopfronts of the real city.

Hanson said he had only a passing knowledge of hip-hop when he entered the project, and that he and Eminem "had to convince each other" they could both handle the movie as each envisaged it.

Hanson most recently directed the 2011 HBO movie on the financial crisis Too Big To Fail and the 2012 Gerard Butler surfing movie Chasing Mavericks.

Bacon paid tribute to Hanson on Twitter, saying: "Great director. Great man. Riding that river with him was one of the greatest gigs of my life."

Gremlins director Joe Dante tweeted that Hanson was "A terrific guy who made some terrific movies".

David Simon, creator of the TV show The Wire, said on Twitter that Hanson was "a worthy and talented craftsman and storyteller".


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