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
Terrific music bio with award-worthy acting by Steve Coogan
Ignore the awful ads for 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE (which are bollocks!), and run out and see the film while it is out in limited release. Anybody with an interest in Alternative Music in general, and the British Punk/New Wave & Rave scenes should see this examination of the past 25 years of British rock as filtered through the eyes of Factory Records' Tony Wilson.
Perhaps a bit too "inside" for general audiences, it is a rare example of a music based film that its actually good cinema to go along with it's raucous soundtrack. Well done, wry and entertaining. My only quibbles are that the filmmakers seem to be preaching to the converted. Except for the tragic Ian Curtis (JOY DIVISION), little attempt is made to inform the uninitiated as to why these bands mattered (NEW ORDER in particular, is just tossed around almost as a brand name, rather than a living breathing artistic unit). Also, we are constantly told how wonderful Manchester is as a city, but we are never really shown why. Steve Coogan's portrayal of Wilson really makes the film flow and live. It's not the kind of role that usually wins awards, but here's hoping some critics group somewhere notices. He's that fine.
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