Projections - Movie Reviews

24 Hour Party People

Michael Winterbottom's febrile haze of punk rock to the rave scene in 24 Hour Party People is anchored enormously by Steve Coogan's incisive performance as TV reporter Tony Wilson who became an impresario and started his own record label.

You can see in his face that Wilson loved the music and the drugs in this deliciously raucous compendium of narration, fiction, and archival footage of this quasi documentary in Manchester, England.

Coogan is known by the locals for his comedic Alan Partridge as a TV show host.  And he really ignites 24 Hour Party People remarkably that the film's anarchistic spirit never collapses on it because of his galvanizing wit and intelligent sparkle.

As the city became know as "Madchester" once Factory was realized after Wilson spotted the Sex Pistols in a grungy dive, he got bands like Joy Division and Happy Mondays on his label.  This unabashedly bawdy and smashing film guided by Coogan and persuasively written by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Hilary & Jackie, The Claim) is based more on legend rather than reality.

Wilson's colleagues who perhaps knew the dazed, passionate music contractor wasn't a good businessman included Rob Gretton (Paddy Considine) and Alan Erasmus (Lennie James).  One learns the evolution of New Order with lead singer Ian Curtis, a rogue Sean Harris, committing suicide.  And Wilson's love of this intense freedom promoted a lifestyle that brought financial woes at a warehouse turned club called the Hacienda where the acts often showcased their talents.

Wisely, Winterbottom retains the gritty, affecting feel of his Wonderland in paying homage to Manchester with the focus on Wilson, an intriguing somewhat flaky chap.  The background of Coogan shines often to bring the house down with his clever rapport with the camera shot on digital video by the talented Robby Muller.  He chews up the scenery with irreverent authenticity as this harshly hilarious movie incessantly comes at you without being caustic.

24 Hour Party People

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