Filmmaker, restaurant critic Winner dies at 77

“Death Wish” director Michael Winner, a British filmmaker, restaurant critic and bon vivant, died Monday. He was 77.

Winner’s wife, Geraldine, said he died at his London home after an illness.

Winner’s 30 movies included three “Death Wish” films starring the late Charles Bronson. Many of his features sit at the schlockier end of the spectrum, but he also worked with Hollywood icons including Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum and Faye Dunaway.

One of his earliest films was the 1962 nudist feature “Some Like It Cool”; later, he specialized in thrillers and action movies, including “The Mechanic,” “Scorpio” and the violent “Death Wish” series.

Winner never took criticism of his films too seriously.

“If you want art, don’t mess about with movies,” he once said. “Buy a Picasso.”

Born in London in 1935, Winner was writing a showbiz column for a local newspaper by the time he was 14, and as a student edited the Cambridge University newspaper, Varsity.

Winner was best known for “Death Wish,” which stars Bronson as a law-abiding citizen who turns vigilante when his wife and daughter are attacked. The 1974 film was criticized for its violence, but was a commercial success in an America fretting about urban violence and a fraying social fabric.

Women fare better in independent film

Despite equal representation of male and female filmmakers at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, a study shows there has been little change in the number of women working as directors and producers at the independent-film showcase over the past decade.

But women still fare better behind the camera in independent film than in studio productions. The Sundance Institute and Women in Film commissioned the study and announced the results Monday in Park City, Utah.

Film about phone sex biz based on true story

The rule of thumb is write what you know. That’s exactly what first-time screenwriters and longtime friends Katie Anne Naylon and Lauren Miller did with “For a Good Time, Call ...”

It’s the story of two women who start a phone sex line from their New York apartment. It’s based on the phone sex business Naylon operated from her dorm room, which she shared with Miller, her freshman year at Florida State University. The film will be available Tuesday on DVD.

“I’ve always been a pretty liberated person and willing to say anything. What happened was I saw this ad online,” Naylon. “After working for someone else for awhile, I decided to have my own line. It all became a funny experience that I would talk about at parties.”

Wire reports