Saturday, January 23, 2010
Gods Of Cinema: Michael Winner
There is no other filmmaker like Michael Winner. He puts an undeniable stamp on his films, and sometimes they seem like the work of a crazy person... Oh, I mean this in the best possible sense. Michael Winner's pictures in their direction and editing, especially in his Post-Death Wish success, feel absolutely different from other films. They break out of convention while staying square into their genre. Winner has directed about 35 films in his career, and had written many of them himself. His 60's Brit film period (1960-1969) began with the lost picture "Shoot To Kill" and ended with "Hannibal Brooks" with his frequent leading man, Oliver Reed. Here are my favorites from that period: The Charles Bronson Years (1971-1988) Started with Chato's Land and ended with Appointment With Death. The Mechanic is an absolute action classic, as is the gritty Death Wish. Michael Winner's first 2 Death Wish sequels however are something else entirely. Especially part 3. And that's a good thing. The Michael Winner Creep-fests (The Nightcomers, 1971 & The Sentinel, 1977) are standouts in the horror genre. His brand of atmosphere worked really well in these two pictures. The Sentinel remains one of the best horror films of the 70's for me. And then there are a couple of thrillers he did in his later career that absolutely make me giggle. Scream For Help (1984) and Dirty Weekend (1993) are outings that take the women in peril genres to bizarre new heights. I am obsessed with Winner's wacky choices he makes throughout these films. Michael winner's last film was the aptly titled "Parting Shots" from 1999, and he's since retired from making motion pictures. Strangely enough, or perhaps appropriately considering the man, he has changed careers to become a renowned food critic, writing for the UK's Sunday Times. You've got to love a director with a great palette.