Michael Winterbottom is one of my favorite directors, but I don’t know that I could tell you what makes a Winterbottom film a Winterbottom film. And that’s why I like him so much – he jumps from place to place, style to style, and genre to genre. He’s an exciting director to follow because you never know where he’ll lead you: last year he brought the delirious comedy Tristram Shandy AND the post-9/11 neofactualist film The Road to Guantanamo. These barely seem like movies that would belong in the same DVD collection, let alone be made by the same man. (To be fair, sometimes this scattershot approach doesn’t work. For example, I fucking DESPISE 9 Songs.)
Winterbottom’s next film is coming this summer, the Daniel Pearl Oscar-bait movie A Mighty Heart, which doesn’t actually feel like a huge leap from Guantanamo, but he’s following that up with the Italy-set ghost story Genova. But while he’s getting ready to shoot that, he’s already begun working on another film – one that won’t be finished until 2012.
Seven Days is about a man serving a five year prison term for drug smuggling, and it follows his relationship with his wife and children while in the slammer. Winterbottom is shooting the movie a couple of weeks at a time over the course of five years; I imagine that the title refers to seven days that the wife comes to visit him over that time span. John Simm, the time-displaced detective from the UK TV show Life on Mars, plays the inmate while Shirley Henderson, Moaning Myrtle from the Harry Potter films, plays his wife.
Filming over a long time span isn’t completely groundbreaking – Richard Linklater has a project like that in the works, and when I interviewed Australian exploitation auteur Mark Savage, he told me he had begun a similar film which would take him a number of years to complete. I’m amazed that anyone would do such a thing, as it shows a large amount of faith in your continued existence; I don’t like making plans for next weekend, let alone the next five years.
Seven Days is being funded by Channel 4 as a TV movie, but it will get a theatrical release in the United States. I wonder if it will be depressing if I’m still reviewing movies for CHUD when that comes out.