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Archive for June 17th, 2010

I was listening to Ross McD talk about the new Michael Winterbottom movie The Killer Inside Me. I was surprised to hear that it was the first Winterbottom movie Ross had seen, I was even more surprised when I looked him up and realised how prolific a director he is and how many of his movies I have seen including a couple I had forgotten were his movies. Michael Winterbottom movies have a certain style and tend to be inexplicably beautiful with a dream like quality, they also tend to feature Great acting and music, but most notably they are controversial. So here is the Groovers Guide to Michael Winterbottom:

Cracker (1993) (TV): Robbie Coltrane played the Fritz, a hard drinking, heavy smoking gambling forensic psychologist who was seminal in 90’s British TV. Created by Jimmy McGovern, the first two episodes were directed by Michael Winterbottom.

Butterfly Kiss (1995): A serial killer thriller, a British road movie and a lesbian drama all these things are true of Butterfly Kiss but none of the sum it up. Amanda Plummer at her mesmerising best as a psychopathic woman in search of her former lover.

Jude (1996): Thomas Hardy’s, Jude The Obscure was a grim and bleak piece of literature and actually turned out to be his final novel. The tragic story of a stonemason who is looking for a better life find his plans thwarted by a doomed relationship with his cousin. The movie is as bleak and grim as the novel it is based on but is made watchable by fantastic performances especially from a young Kate Winslet.  Well worth watching but don’t expect it to cheer you up!

Welcome to Sarajevo (1997): For a group of war correspondents Sarajevo is just the next in a long list of conflicts but for Michael Henderson (based on real life ITN journalist Michael Nicholson) things take a new turn when he gets emotionally involved with an orphanage. He smuggles a ten year old girl who he ultimately adopts to the UK. A thoughtful and powerful movie that is superbly acted.

Wonderland (1999):Not to be confused with the bio-pic of porn star John Holmes starring Val Kilmer (2003) with the same name, Wonderland combines elements of Italian neorealist and Cinéma vérité combined with a cleverly constructed story that inter-weaves four plotlines about three sisters. One of the sisters is played by the hugely underrated Gina McKee who is nothing short of sensational. As is so often the case with Michael Winterbottom’s movies it is it has an inexplicable beauty that is enhanced by the Michael Nyman’s score.

The Claim (2000): When I first saw There Will Be Blood I thought of The Claim, it is a stark and cold tale of pioneers and prospectors in 1840s California. A young prospector swaps his wife and baby daughter for a gold claim. Twenty years on he is the wealthy mayor of the town but the town is dying and needs the railway to come through the town to rejuvenate it. The visit of a surveyor from the railroad company coincides with the return to town of the mayor’s wife and now grown up daughter.  A grim, realistic and stripped down view of the old west as well as for a fantastic performance from Sarah Polley and a haunting musical score by Michael Nyman.

24 Hour Party People (2002): The Manchester music scene from the mid seventies to the early 90’s told from the point of view of Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan). It’s not the most historically accurate movie but it doesn’t pretend to be and it really catches the vibe of the era of Factory Records, Joy Division/New Order, The Happy Mondays, The Hacienda and the birth of the UK rave scene. It is also often very funny.

Code 46 (2003): Blending film noir with dystopian sci-fi in the near future results in a superior thriller with a dream like quality a little like Gattaca. And that dream like quality is the crux of the movie, it could easily overshadow the plot and the characters if not for the charismatic and talented leads Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton. The film is too low-key to be truly memorable.

9 Songs (2004): Known for its use of gratuitous graphic sex and concert footage from the Brixton Academy. To put it bluntly the sex isn’t of gratuitous, it isn’t that graphic (porn is readily available if you want it and that’s a lot more graphic and by definition gratuitous) although it is real and not simulated. Some of the dialogue is improvised making it range from very real and engrossing and real to awkward and bad but on a whole it works. The concert footage is really good and the overall film is strangle poetic and beautiful. Its not a movie you will want to see over and over again but it is worth seeing.

The Killer Inside Me (2010): See my full review here.

 

A hugely prolific director, I haven’t seen the following of his movies:

  • The Shock Doctrine (2009)
  • Genova (2008)
  • A Mighty Heart (2007)
  • The Road to Guantanamo (2006)
  • A Cock and Bull Story (2005)
  • In This World (2002)
  • With or Without You (1999)
  • Go Now (1995)
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