Michael Winterbottom

The Trip to Italy

“We aren’t going to do any impersonations, are we? Because we talked about that.” Prolific filmmaker Michael Winterbottom returns to the wonderful and witty world of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon eating a lot of tasty-looking food and trying to one-up each other with uncanny celebrity impersonations in The Trip to Italy, a satisfying follow-up to 2010’s The Trip. Again retained by The Observer to put together a round of lightly fictionalized restaurant reviews with some trademark color commentary (this time in Italy), the film opens with Brydon inviting Coogan along for another adventure in eating, drinking, and just giving each other a lot of shit. Fortunately, Coogan accepts the offer (and all the five-star accommodations that go along with it). Though it may sound just a bit cliché and a tad trite, it also just so happens to be true: if you loved The Trip, you’ll love The Trip to Italy. Winterbottom and the lads have essentially changed locations, mixed around a bit of drama, and served up a film very much like their first one. Luckily, The Trip and The Trip to Italy are not films that rely on large-scale plot movements and big character revelations, and the things that worked well the first time work almost as well the second. The food looks better, too.

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Steve Coogan in The Look of Love

The Look of Love marks Steve Coogan’s fourth collaboration with Michael Winterbottom and it’s an ideal companion piece to their 24 Hour Party People (2002), offering another decades-spanning look at a seminal, if lesser-known, British cultural figure. It’s a complex character study that offers some of Coogan’s most interesting work and another testament to Winterbottom’s knack for period naturalism. Here, Coogan plays Paul Raymond, who was dubbed the King of Soho for his property purchases, proprietorship of the U.K.’s first strip joint and publication of erotica magazines including Men Only and Escort. The film traces Raymond’s three decades or so as his nation’s Hugh Hefner, wheeling, dealing to amass his empire.

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The Look of Love

Michael Winterbottom has made a lot of goddamn movies. Unlike most directors, though, he doesn’t really have a type of film that he sticks to or is known for. This lack of a label allows him to move effortlessly from comedy to drama, political to pornographic artistic, period to contemporary, and once and a while he’ll even dip his toes into the biographical. It’s that last category that his latest film, The Look of Love, resides… alongside strong elements of the dramatic, comedic, period and artistic, of course. Steve Coogan plays real-life multi-millionaire Paul Raymond, a man whose immense fortune came on the backs of nude women dancing in his clubs, posing in his magazines and playing in his bed. Starting in the near present with the death of his daughter, the film flashes back to his early days as proprietor of a classy gentleman’s club and traces his rise in wealth and fame alongside his descent into sleaze and immorality.

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Michael Winterbottom is, as was often said during a recent screening at TIFF, a highly prolific filmmaker. He’s made big to small, funny to shocking, and any other adjective you can attach to a film. With Everyday, he looks to tell a story of a family broken apart for five years when the family’s patriarch is locked up in prison. What makes it unlike similar films is that while it’s not narratively strong, it is an amazing emotional piece. Everyday is primarily filled with scenes of Ian (John Simm) in jail on the days that his family visits him or when he is released on a furlough to see them at home. We are there for the moments when Ian gets to be a father, but we’re also there for the moments that he’s noticeably absent as the film spends time with his wife Karen (Shirley Henderson) and her children at home. It shows the passage of time in the most effective way possible, making the struggles of a virtually-single parent impossible not to focus on.

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Film fans already got a glimpse at the early days of The Beatles’ career with 1994’s Backbeat, a dramatization of their days working the club scene in Hamburg. Now there’s a new film in the works that is going to tell the story of their last days together as a band. Richard DiLello worked as a gofer for The Beatles’ late-career recording company, Apple Records, between 1968 and 1970, and his written account of his time there The Longest Cocktail Party is going to serve as the source material for the new film. During his time working at Apple, DiLello established personal relationships with each member of The Beatles, as well as their closest friends and family, and his book is told from his own perspective, watching this huge world crumble with outside eyes. The film version of The Longest Cocktail Party is being produced by a team consisting of Michael Winterbottom, Oasis’ Liam Gallagher, and Winterbottom’s longtime producing partner Andrew Eaton. The screenplay is being adapted by Four Lions writer Jesse Armstrong, and Winterbottom himself intends on directing. That makes perfect sense, as he already has experience directing a film called 24 Hour Party People, so The Longest Cocktail Party shouldn’t be much of a stretch. The biggest hurdles in the way of getting a film like this together are going to be affording the rights to enough of The Beatles’ catalogue to put together an appropriate soundtrack and finding the right actors to bring the iconic quartet to life. […]

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There’s a lot of dancing going on in this trailer for Michael Winterbottom‘s Trishna. Typical Bollywood style numbers with their elaborate flair. Intimate undulations between two people falling in love. The kind of dance moves that happen between sheets. They’re all there, and they all look stunning. Winterbottom seeks to confound here a bit, combining several elements from past films and making something that looks nothing like anything he’s done before. There’s a dash of 24 Hour Party People, the sensuality of 9 Songs, and maybe even a taste of A Mighty Heart‘s dramatics, but over all, this story of star cross’d lovers looks like a new animal. It stars Freida Pinto and Riz Ahmed as the daughter of a rickshaw owner and the son of a land developer that only have eyes for each other. How much do you want to bet that their love is forbidden? Sink down into the poetry of it all for yourself:

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The Trip was a Michael Winterbottom-directed independent comedy that recently opened in the US to pretty decent critical buzz. It featured comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon as less than happy bedfellows traveling the countryside of northern England and eating at fancy restaurants. The story was that they were writing reviews for a magazine, but really the plot was just an excuse to get Coogan and Brydon together to riff on comedy bits, duel with Michael Caine impressions, and get on each other’s nerves. The results were rather humorous, and it’s looking like there is going to be a sequel. Or, at least, there will be a sequel to the BBC series. You see, The Trip actually started as a six part series on BBC2. In a kind of strange move, the six episodes were edited down to one feature length release for US theaters. In a Q&A at this week’s Latitude Festival, producer Andrew Eaton revealed that Winterbottom was going to send Coogan and Brydon on another trip, this time to Italy. This guarantees that the original fans of the series in the UK will be getting more odd couple action from the duo, and points to the fact that we might be getting another movie here in the US as well. If the content is there, and all you have to do is pay someone to make an alternate edit, why not give it another go in the US? Or maybe they’ll strike a deal to get the […]

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It’s my personal suggestion that you read and re-read that headline because even though I wrote it, I’m still re-reading it, rubbing my eyes like a kid who just found a $20 bill on the sidewalk (aka infinite money), and trying to figure out if it’s real. Michael Winterbottom, the man who directed 24 Hour Party People, the man who directed 9 Songs, the man who apparently loves movies with numbers in the title – is going to be teaming with Jack Black for a comedy. That’s insane. And wonderful. According to Variety, Winterbottom will be directing Bailout, an adaptation of Jess Walter’s “The Financial Lives of the Poets,” which tells the story of a man who finds himself without a job, but with a wife that’s cheating on him and a father who is fast approaching senility. His luck turns when he comes face to face with an interesting (and illegal) business opportunity, and hilarity ensues. There seems to be a trend of down-on-their-luck figures being celebrated (the latest being Will Ferrell in Everything Must Go), but there’s been mixed success. Maybe people aren’t too keen on watching recession-hit characters during the recession. Maybe they should bring back Charlie Chaplin. However, this project sounds far too weird not to be great. Winterbottom is a diverse talent that can do dark drama and sharp comedy with equal skill, and it’s refreshing to see Black take on something that’s on the other side of the world from Gulliver’s Travels. I haven’t […]

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Michael Winterbottom’s ‘The Killer Inside Me’ has attracted a lot of controversy for its savage violence. But worse than that, it’s spectacularly boring.

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Samarkand

An adaptation of Craig Murray’s “Murder in Samarkand” with Michael Winterbottom at the helm and Steve Coogan in the starring role is sadly stalled indefinitely.

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Jessica Alba Finds Her Inner Hooker

In The Killer Inside Me, Alba will play a prostitute in the world of a West Texas Sheriff, played by Casey Affleck, who finds himself transforming from boring small town cop to ruthless, sociopathic murderer.

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