24 Hour Party People (2002)
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.
A semi-fictional account of approximately sixteen years in the Manchester alternative music scene from 1976 is presented. The story is largely from the perspective of Tony Wilson, who, along with other characters in the story and Steve Coogan, who portrays Wilson, occasionally break the fourth wall in telling the story. As it is happening, Wilson, an on-air presenter for Granada television, believes that The Sex Pistols' concert at the Lesser Free Trade Hall should be a seminal moment in the Manchester music scene, despite there being only an unenthusiastic audience of forty-two in a venue holding several times that amount. Without highly visible outlets for punk and other alternative musical acts in Britain, Wilson and his partners go about creating such outlets. They include, in chronological order: a television program, So It Goes (1976), hosted by Wilson himself; a record label, Factory Records, which would sign at its core Joy Division, who would transition into becoming New Order, and Happy Mondays; and a live music venue, the Haçienda, which would feature primarily Factory's stable of talent. But Wilson wanted the experiment as he calls it to be more about the end product than the business which would keep him true to his vision. That focus, for good or bad, could be the experiment's ultimate downfall. Interrelated to the success or failure of the experiment is Wilson's slight narcissism - his name which he believes should be sufficient to get things done - and his personal relationships with what would be his two wives.
In 1976, Tony Wilson sets up Factory Records and brings Manchester's music to the world.
- Supremely entertaining, amazingly true story of the raucous music scene in Manchester, England- circa 1979-1992 and the man, Tony Wilson and the bands behind the movement that changed the history of pop culture forever. Wilson, as played brilliantly by Steve Coogan, narrates the movie; which has a fast paced, unconventional style of narrative in which Wilson speaks directly to the audience and explains what's going on. He basically has to, because it is often hard to tell what has just happened or what is happening from moment to moment. Surprisingly enough, this type of narrative works very well and adds a certain flair that accompanies the visceral, in-your-face style of filming, perfectly. It helps if you know something about some of the bands shown in the film (Joy Division, New Order,The Happy Mondays) or if you at least have a vague interest in learning about them. Of course, it also works on a basic comedic level too- with frenetic party scenes fueled by sex, drugs and pulsating new wave music. Though it is a film about the rise and fall of an empire - the treatment of the material is basically tongue-in-cheek and hilarious more often than thought provoking. This isn't SID & NANCY, after all- and despite a moving and very powerful eulogy to Ian Curtis (lead singer of Joy Division who hung himself in 1980), this isn't a cautionary tale at all. In fact, it's the opposite - a complete satiric parody of true events, that at their time had to be intense and somewhat tragic. It's refreshing, though, to see this type of film- free from moralizing and horrific drug withdrawal sequences, that only wishes to entertain and to tell its twisted tale. Entertaining, it is (to say the least), fast paced and extremely witty; with enough awesome music and actual archival footage of great bands in their prime to make any fan of sex, drugs and rock n roll salivate. Highly recommended.