Errol Morris makes movies that have humor in them, but no one thinks of him as a comedian, or even a dramatic filmmaker. He’s a cracking documentarian, a goddamned treasure within the world of investigative film, and also a skilled commercial director with a massive resume of TV spots that would surprise people who only know his feature docs.
So I’m excited and a little befuddled by the news that Morris will next tackle a “dark comedy” (Variety’s words) inspired jointly by Robert F. Nelson’s memoir We Froze the First Man and a This American Life segment called “You’re Cold As Ice”. It’s currently called the Untitled Cryonics Project, which might not look too good on a poster.
Nelson was a TV repairman who in the ’60s started working to develop cryogenic technology. In 1967 he and a couple other scientist/enthusiasts froze the recently deceased corpse of psychology professor James Bedford. The script seems to focus on the trial and error of freezing a body so that it could later be revived by miracle science. Frostbite is funny; on dead people, doubly so.
This isn’t the first narrative feature from Morris; in the early ’90s he made The Dark Wind, an adaptation of a Tony Hillerman novel starring Lou Diamond Philips. Morris reportedly failed to finish the film due to creative differences with executive producer Robert Redford, but I’ve never heard much of the backstory on that movie, so I don’t know what the real deal actually was.
EDIT: Thing I forgot to mention earlier: the one reason I have less than 100% enthusiasm for this right now is the name on the script: Zach Helm. He wrote Stranger Than Fiction, but more importantly wrote and directed Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Yeah. That hurts a little.