August 24, New York: There was a period in which I watched this film nearly a hundred times in the space of a few months. It was just always on in our college apartment. And it never got old. Still today, this movie fits like a perfect pair of jeans— so comfortable, so enjoyable. Such fantastic acting: Michael Douglas, Robert Downey, Jr., Frances McDormand, Tobey Maguire, even Katie Holmes is great in her red cowboy boots.
And Curtis Hanson, the director, is great, too. There’s nothing fancy about how Wonder Boys is directed, but everything about it works. Pittsburgh as a character. The Director’s commentary explains that every time Grady makes a decision, a bridge is featured. (If you watch a movie 100 times, eventually you watch it with the commentary on.) The weather as a character. The cold, wet rain is palpable. The crisp winter nights actually made Jill and I miss winter as we were watching it (which says a lot, because after last winter we are stridently pro-summer right now.)
I think Curtis Hanson is a masterful director. He gets out of the way of letting a film unfold. Wonder Boys, like LA Confidential and 8 Mile, begins with incredibly strong source material. And Hanson manages to enhance it. Let’s please give Curtis Hanson some more big movies to adapt.
Buy Wonder Boys. Watch it again and again. Fall in love with Pittsburgh, fall in love with Curtis Hanson.