In honour of Curtis Hanson, we wanted to talk about a little-known film on his resume. “Wonder Boys” came out 3 years after his masterpiece “L.A. Confidential” and it is based on the novel by the same name written by Michael Chabon.
An English Professor tries to deal with his wife leaving him, the arrival of his editor who has been waiting for his book for seven years, and the various problems that his friends and associates involve him in.
Curtis Hanson created a very personal film, creating an accurate portrait of campus life and diving into the problems of his main characters with strong emotional attachment. The film is intelligently build to create a realistic pace which makes the humour more subtle. The great power of the film is the actors and their interaction with each other. Michael Douglas was a great choice as the main character, pot smoking English professor who always seems to have problems. Robert Downey Jr. is like so often a joy to watch. Tobey Maguire has always been able to portray troubled characters to perfection and Frances McDormand is a breath of fresh air in all her roles.
The filmed was shot in Pittsburgh using old Victorian houses and shooting in the old university: Carnegie-Mellon University because Hanson felt that the city was so relevant in the book and didn’t want to move the production.
The film was nominated for three Oscars and one an Oscar for Best Song: “Things Have Changed”, written and performed by Bob Dylan. Since winning the Oscar, Dylan has taken it on tour with him and it presides over shows perched atop his amplifier. Dylan was convinced by Hanson talents as a director after seeing “L.A. Confidential”. Hanson always dreamed of working with Dylan, because he was a childhood hero of his.