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Michael Winterbottom

Butterfly Kiss * Michael Winterbottom (1995)

This was Winterbottom’s first full-length film, but by far not his debut as a director. We follow Eunice (Amanda Plummer), a strange character who is apparently looking for someone called Judith. When things do not go as expected, something bad happens. Miriam somehow looks up to her, or she feels sorry, this is not completely clear, but at least she recognises the bad in Eunice and tries to find the good in her. Instead she grows bad herself. I am not sure if I already saw this film, but if I did not, it does indeed remind a lot of “Thelma and Louise”. Two girls on the loose doing everything that is forbidden. “Butterfly Kiss” is good for a few laughs and chuckles, but not really a very good film. Plummer’s character could be a reason to watch it anyway though.

9 Songs * Michael Winterbottom (2004)

“69 Minutes of sex and rock and roll”. That line from the box sums up this film. Actually it could be “69 Minutes of sex, poprock and some drugs”, but of course that does not sound so well. Matt and Lisa meet at a concert of Black Rebel Motorcycle club in London. Lisa is there as an American student, Matt lives in London. For the rest of the film we each time see one song of a live performance that Matt (and Lisa) attend and between them incorent short shots of their relationship, in most cases, the couple having sex. Judging the title, I suppose that the 9 songs tell the story of the young lovers. As the music becomes less interesting to my ears (there are bands such as The Dandy Warholes, Primal Scream, Franz Ferdinand and Super Furry Animals, some songs are nice, others less so), the sex scenes become more explicit and the lack (not entirely though) of other images, tends to wear off. The same I can say about the concerts. They are simply registrations of concerts in (I think) the same 5000 people venue with a few shots of the band and some of the audience. Just sex and music is not enough to make an interesting film!

The Killer Inside Me * Michael Winterbottom (2010)

Lou Ford is a 29 year old police officer who lives in some small Texas town where he grew up and where he has always been the good boy. When he meets a prostitute (played by Jessica Alba) his view on things changes drastically. Lou starts to enjoy murder and the trying to get away with it. Some Coen-style cat-and-mouse game with undercooled humour unfolds.
“The Killer Inside Me” of Michael “24 Hour Party People” Winterbottom is a not very original, but entertaining film with black humour and a couple of violent outbursts.

Code 46 * Michael Winterbottom * 2003

A completely different film than “24 Hour Party People” which is from the same director. In the (near) future people live in cities and outcasts live “outside”. People have to have “warrants” for everything and there are forgeries going around. William is sent to Shanghai to investigate the fraud and falls in love with his suspect which eventually leads into problems with the totalitarian system that society is made off in those days. The red line of the film isn’t even that bad, the film itself is alright; it has a good atmosphere and the acting is fine. Irritating are the passionate love-scenes-with-cloths-on and the completely forced “future feeling” that supposedly should be made with throwing different languages through eachother. “Code 46” is alright to watch on tv on an evening that you have nothing to do, but there are better films to see.

24 Hour Party People * Michael Winterbottom * 2002

I had wanted to see this film for a long time, but when I read in the anouncement of the TV-broadcasting that the Sex Pistols are part of the story, I wondered why I never watched this film before. Not that I am a big Sex Pistol fan, but I like films about the 70’s (music) scene, such as “Boogie Nights” or “Almost Famous”. “24 Hour Party People” is even more ‘educational’ than I expected. After the first concert of the Sex Pistols Tony Wilson decided that he wanted to form a plane for independant music. First he gets a show about punk music on a regional TV channel, later he opens the club “The Factory” to organise shows and after that he founds “Factory Records”. There isn’t too much punk in this film, because soon Wilson discovers the genre ‘postpunk’ (later ‘(new) wave’ or ‘gothic’). Quite a large part of the film is dedicated to Joy Division, the controversy about their name and the suicide of the lead singer. In their early days, there wasn’t much of ‘a gothic look’, but later there was. Obviously the genre developed into a scene. After the suicide of Ian Curtis, the band continues under the name New Order.
Wilson doesn’t just sign wave bands though, because he also discovers the Happy Mondays and some avantgardistic bands that I don’t even know. The greatest thing to see is what happens around the person a Wilson, a music lover not interested in genres. He releases punk, wave, indie/avantgarde, funk and eventually he opens a club where ‘the rave scene’ was born, the earliest signs of life of house music, where the attention didn’t go to the creators of the music, but to the medium, the DJ. Touched upon are the problems with drugs, gangs and the like.

I don’t know how historical the story is, but I read somewhere on the internet that the story is very one-sided and focussed too much on the person of Wilson. I suppose that is true, but still the film gives a wonderfull view on the happenings of the Manchester scene of that time.Personally I was delighted to see how different kinds of music and scenes run through and follow up eachother.

Also the film itself is very well done. Most of the time you get the idea that you are ‘part of’ the time the film is about, but the main character frequently makes it clear that the film was shot recently, by saying what will happen in the film, who plays what character, giving comments on what happens, etc. The humour is British and extremely dry, I like that! The film is educational in a way, enjoyable and a great watch. Now I need to see “Velvet Goldmine” (1998) some time soon too!