As a longtime fan of Michael Winterbottom, I looked forward to finally taking some spring break time to read Dark Matter: Independent Filmmaking in the 21st Century (published by Bloomsbury last October), the British director’s survey of the state of his country’s cinema through interviews with 15 of the best in the business working (though not as much as Winterbottom would like) today. It seemed like a great idea in theory. Who better than Winterbottom – a film artist of boundless curiosity and seamless flexibility – to probe the creative minds of everyone from Ken Loach, Danny Boyle and Mike Leigh, to Steve McQueen, Asif Kapadia and Lynne Ramsay? How many other directors in the UK (or elsewhere for that matter) can go from Manchester music scene (24 Hour Party People), to Gitmo detention camp (The Road to Guantanamo), to 50s noir (The Killer Inside Me), to comedic series (The Trip and its Coogan-kooky offshoots)? And that’s just a handful of films in a 30-plus oeuvre spread out over nearly three decades. Indeed, Winterbottom unquestionably is that rare risk-taking British gentleman seemingly unafraid to fail. (See – or rather don’t see – 2004’s sexually explicit misstep 9 Songs. 24% . . .
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