Tuesday, June 24, 2014

24 Hour Party People (2002)

Director: Michael Winterbottom
Writer:    Frank Cottrell Boyce
Cast:       Steve Coogan, Lennie James, John Thomson

In 1976, Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan) sets up Factory Records and brings Manchester's music to the world.

Tony Wilson was a news reporter for Granada television and the film begins with the punk rock era of late 70s and moves through the 1980s into the 'Madchester' scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The bands that are covered are Joy Division, New Order, A Certain Ratio, The Durutti Column and the Happy Mondays. Tony Wilson breaks the fourth wall with the audience throughout the film as an exposition technique but it is done with so much wit that you don't mind it one bit. At one point he goes that 'I am being post modern before it became fashionable'.  He explains to us that it is not about him but the artists and other recording people. But it is really about him who can be summed up by the only contract he had with the artists written in his own blood which essentially said that the artists are in full control and they can choose to fuck off whenever they want.

In his own words he wanted his epitaph to read: 'Here lies Tony Wilson who never sold out...err...because he never had anything to sell'. The expensive club 'Hacienda' he started took some time to get popular but even when it got popular it struggled to make money due to the fact that people who turned up were more interested to get their hands on Ecstasy and not the alcohols they were selling legally.

The film is based on a combination of rumors, real events, urban legends and imaginations of script writer. Both the Hacienda and Factory Records were closed down in the late 90s. 24 Hour Party People is one of the best film on music scene. It stands out because it does not focus much on the artists but more on people behind it and does not have a cliched cathartic moment. Everything is done in a matter of fact way. Good Vibrations is another such film.

Rating: 5/5