Director Curtis Hanson, winner of the Academy Award for L.A. Confidential has died. In addition to his acclaimed adaptation of James Ellroy’s novel—in 1998, the film won Best Picture, Best Screenplay Adaptation (with Brian Helgedlund), Best Cinematography with a Best Supporting Actress award for Kim Basinger—Hanson is known for 8 Mile, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle and The River Wild.
“For me all good stories are about awareness. Self-awareness and lack of it, of how you get there and how you might fail to get there. Even Don Siegel’s ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ is about that to a degree. People discover who they are and what they’re all about by meeting their doppelgängers. I have deliberately tried to mix it up in my movies, because I enjoy visiting different worlds. However, thematically, I find that things keep coming up. Self-examination to begin with. You know, who am I, how did I get here and how do I become a better version of myself. Self-destructiveness, because that is the beginning or negation of self-examination.” Curtis Hanson, 3/24/45—9/20/16
Early in Hanson’s career he directed a mostly unknown Tom Cruise in Losin’ It. I’ve written about going to the wrap party and meeting Tom Cruise but if I met Hanson I have no memory of it.
Reports indicate that Curtis died in his Hollywood Hills home of a heart attack but that he may also have been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. He gave up the helm of his last movie, Chasing Mavericks, in 2012, leaving it to Michael Apted to complete reportedly due to complications from heart surgery. I hope that's so. I hate the thought of Alzheimer’s stealing the man’s life years before he actually died. He was 71 years old.