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Manchester 1976: Cambridge educated Tony Wilson, Granada TV presenter, is at a Sex Pistols gig. Totally inspired by this pivotal moment in music history, he and his friends set up a record label, Factory Records, signing first Joy Division (who go on to become New Order) then James and the Happy Mondays, who all become seminal artists of their time. What ensues is a tale of music, sex, drugs, larger-than-life characters, and the birth of one of the most famous dance clubs in the world, The Hacienda - a mecca for clubbers as famous as the likes of Studio 54. Graphically depicting the music and dance heritage of Manchester from the late 70's to the early 90's, this comedy documents the vibrancy that made Mad-chester the place in the world that you would most like to be. Written by
You may like it simply for the music. Superficially, it is a one of those things unsuitably called a "docudrama," a category that I don't quite understand.
But here's the way it is constructed. We have a fellow whose job is to show viewers around odd and interesting things. He's a character who takes on a metarole in the film as our guide, sometimes within the movie and sometimes stepping out of it and speaking directly to us, using several modes.
And the subject of this carefully folded structure? Anarchism. Music as anarchy, as specifically breaking the musical equivalent of narrative. I'm not sure that anyone can honestly like this music without making the commitment themselves. Otherwise, its a sort of perverse voyeurism, but I guess that's what drives the music business.
Winterbottom isn't a halfway kinda guy though, and you should be inclined to share anything he serves up. Here, he is back in the German new wave mode, where there is no story at all. No arc, no climax. Each event just sort of falls into the next. The camera (which takes the role of the watcher within, Tony, and the watcher without) similarly falls. To underscore this, Winterbottom has Ian Curtis hang himself in front of a TeeVee. On that is playing Herzog's Stroszek, dancing chicken and the amuck truck. Its Herzog's film with the same attitude: no narrative, a loss of narrative is the narrative or where the hole is.
After that death, incidentally, is one of the most haunting images I've seen. I do not think it is taken from another film. Children in Klan suits, some black, parade in a highly stylized 2d shot, then one carries a huge, erect Klan hat on a false color beach and tumbles.
You might consider this the male lover of "9 Songs." I do.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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