Film Director Michael Winterbottom
Chameleon or Opportunist
An Alex Grant
Hour Party People
Since his initial outing as director of a theatrical feature-film
Butterfly Kiss, the prolific young U.K. Michael Winterbottom, whose 8
films in 8 years include Jude,Welcome to Sarajevo,The Claim and
the current Twenty Four Hour Party People, must surely have broken
all records worldwide for churning features out lickety-split.
Winterbottoms oeuvre bounces from the wildly ambitious not
one but two adaptations of Thomas Hardy novels; The Claim is a Gold Rush
setting of Hardys The Mayor of Casterbridge; to the freaky, headache
inducing Twenty Four Hour Party People, a frenzied hyperactive recreation
of the music scene that anticipated the ravenEcstasy epidemic
in Eighties Manchester. A highly subjective biopic of wannabe empire
builder and impresario Tony Wilson, played to perfection by comedian Steve
Coogan. Winterbottoms latest assembly-line opus is definitely a
blast from the past a blast of hot air.
Wilson is a thoroughgoing
pseud, what the Brits mean by this, a pretentious prick, always ready
to indulge the most appalling pretension and an incorrigible poseur.
Twenty Four Hour veers from tragedy to farce with astonishing skill,
yet seldom attains more than a bittersweet nostalgia for a nihilistic
era of hedonism for young folk with a champagne taste on a fishnchips
budget. The only recent film silimilar in tone is Doug Limans
Such a seemingly recklessly productive career as Winterbottoms
begs the question is he a chameleon ? Or an opportunist,or both? His
films have yet to display the thread of character,plot and theme that
are felt to be the imprimatur of a genuine auteur film director.
Many consider Wonderland to be his one masterly work, a quintessential
London movie. Centuries from now Wonderland will be the most
accurate depiction of Twentieth Century Londoners. Perhaps also Twenty
Four Hour Party People will become the fundamental Manchester movie
of all time?
Just what will Michael Winterbottom get up to next ? He has done a Western,
a Musical, a War Movie.Will he soon enter the Guinness Book of Records
as the Twenty First Centurys busiest director? At a time when
even well-established ones rarely make a new film every second year.
It is worth remembering that it is 6 years since Quentin Tarantinos
© Alex Grant September 2002
Hard Case by Dan Simmons
Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich
< Reply to this Article