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Tribeca Film Festival 2010: The Killer Inside Me

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Tribeca Film Festival 2010: <em>The Killer Inside Me</em>
Tribeca Film Festival 2010: <em>The Killer Inside Me</em>

Writing in 1998 about the early films of British director Michael Winterbottom, critic Michael Atkinson described the filmmaker’s work as being “shot and cut like a heart attack.” He was referring to the “acidic, uncompromising” quality he found in Butterfly Kiss, Jude, and Welcome to Sarajevo, which he claimed made these exercises in overfamiliar genres “seem so new you feel as if you’re inventing them with your eyes, right now.” While, in the decade-plus since Atkinson’s article appeared, Winterbottom has continued to make startling, inventive films that often rethink familiar forms, there’s little in that critic’s evaluation that one could meaningfully apply to the director’s latest effort, The Killer Inside Me. Adapting Jim Thompson’s novel into a stylish if conventionally minded genre piece, Winterbottom’s period psychological thriller features two scenes of startling violence, but they’re far more unpleasant than shocking, light years from the meaningful jolts that enliven the best of his work.