History can be a finicky and messy thing no matter when (or even if) an intrepid group of gremlins assembles to attempt to chronicle real-world goings on and somehow apply it in an entertaining and informative way to the pop culture of our times. Throw into the mix a more recent examination of current day events and you have behind Door Number One – said in my best Monty Hall Let’s Make a Deal intonation – an incisive, warts-and-all, entertaining study of things that are on the bubble or zeitgeist of the world. This is best case scenario, and almost as rare as hen’s teeth; I’m looking here at auteurs who have done this sort of thing right as rain such as Barry Levinson, David Fincher or Oliver Stone. But what’s behind Door Number Two, you might ask? Someone lay on heavy with the Chuck Barris gong, because at best what the sophomore door reveals to us is an utterly biased and almost instantly badly dated exorcise in navel-gazing and enforced eating of our green vegetables that will make a 1980s After-School Special look more timely. In other words, if you’re hoping to find a new rendition of such classic films dealing with the times such as All the President’s Men, Zodiac, Wag the Dog or Nixon…well, we have some nice parting gifts waiting for you behind the door marked EXIT. Sometimes the fog of war – i.e. the times we are living in – needs to settle down before we can have any clear idea of what landscape we are in. Context and balance are key words.
We at Vents assume that brilliant director Michael Winterbottom (of the transcendent Trip to Italy) is aware of the above potential pitfalls roughly laid out and the extreme unlikeliness of hitting the filmatic equivalent of the Daily Double by channeling his inner Stone or Fincher. Nevertheless, those Tom Sawyer’s over at The Hollywood Reporter are reporting this very day that Winterbottom is preparing to tackle no less of a watercooler topic – to put it mildly – as an honest-to-Pete drama that deals with Boris Johnson and COVID.
As part of a larger overall deal with Winterbottom’s Revolution Films production house and television behemoth Fremantle, the director will be tackling a story entitled This Sceptred Isle about British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s controversial handling of the unprecedented pandemic crisis, something that publicity for the upcoming film refers to as “the biggest national and personal crisis to face a government leader since WW2.” The film itself will actually be presented as a series which will be co-scribed as well as directed by Winterbottom along with requisite executive producers Melissa Parmenter (of Revolution Films) and Richard Brown (for production house Passenger).
“Our global drama slate is growing thanks to unique creative partnerships that we are building across the world,” proclaimed Fremantle group chief operating officer (say it ten times fast, kiddies) Andrea Scrosati in a press release. “Michael is such an incredibly sophisticated and prolific auteur; his vision is inspiring, and I admire the fact he continues to challenge the status quo. I am so proud that he and Melissa have chosen Fremantle as their creative partner and I look forward to the great content we will develop together.”
Fremantle is on something of a roll as they continue to gather an impressive stable of talent for their growing roster. Other recent tie-ups for Fremantle include Neil Gaiman, Luca Guadagnino and Neil Cross.
Can Michael Winterbottom deliver to us a topical evergreen guaranteed not to go stale after taken out of its shiny packaging? Stay tuned, film fans!