24 Hour Party People (2002), Cert 18.

Director - Michael Winterbottom.

Writer - Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Starring - Steve Coogan, Ralf Little, Peter Kaye, Keith Allen & Andy Serkis.

 

Premise - The rise and fall of Manchester's Factory Records as documented by Hacienda owner and local TV celebrity Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan).

24 Hour Party People was a real trip down memory lane for me. I was born in 1976 and whilst that meant that I missed the early days of Factory Records, I was at just about the right age to witness the heyday of one of musicís most refreshing eras. I was heavily into 'Madchester', The Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, The Inspiral Carpets and Ride were just some of the music acts that dragged the British music industry out of the nasty synth ridden 80's and into a new wave of energy that is still being felt today through the likes of Oasis.

The film follows Tony Wilson as he stumbles somehow through the music industry with his grand vision. Factory is an independent label in the most literal sense, there are no contracts, bands are free to leave and Wilson can fire bands at will. This is a mantra that will be the making and the breaking of Factory.

Watching 24 Hour Party People it's amazing as to how Wilson enjoyed any success at all, poor business decisions and squandering of cash on nonsense meant that he should have failed at every turn. The fact that he did fail at every turn and still somehow managed to change the face of British music is one of the main reasons why this film is so appealing.

Steve Coogan puts Wilson across as a high intellectual stuck in a world where he is unappreciated, so he decides to educate the masses through music. Coogan plays the part for laughs, but if you have ever seen Wilson on TV you will realise that he is not a million miles away with this performance, Wilson is genuinely like that.

To further accentuate Wilsonís intellectual buffoonery, Coogan constantly gives asides to the camera and in a moment of post-modern-post-modernism tells the audience that a scene that has been cut will probably show up on the DVD! Coogan is on top form here and his charm comes through in spades really helping the movie work. If you've ever seen his TV alter ego 'Alan Partridge' then you will know what to expect.

The supporting cast is made up off the usual mix of British TV regulars. Many seemed to have been picked for their likeness to their characters rather than any real acting ability, but the rough and ready performances mirror the approach that Wilson had to the music industry. Watch out for Andy Serkis as a crazy sound mixer, he plays the part of Gollum in the upcoming 'The Two Towers'.

Director Michael Winterbottom has a real handle on the material and gives the film a nice style that suits the film down to a tee. The opening scenes are filmed solidly to mirror the somewhat serious tone of the early days with Joy Division and New Order. When the story moves onto the wild Happy Monday's and Hacienda days we move onto handheld cameras and frenetic editing. When Factory begins to spiral into it's doom so does Winterbottom's style as the camera and editing become almost headache inducing.

Segued throughout the movie Winterbottom has included recreations of some of Wilson's more banal local TV reports. He interviews a midget zoo keeper and a man so old that he can't recall what he is being interviewed about. They're funny scenes and show the life that Wilson was trying to leave behind to chase the Factory dream.

As you would expect from a film documenting a music scene the soundtrack is excellent featuring the best of Factory and some stuff from the Sex Pistols and others from the time. As I said these were times that were part of my formative years and this music holds a dear place in my heart.

24 Hour Party people is a funny, but ultimately engrossing look at how a bunch of losers with no experience and no clue managed to change the face of British music. I loved it, but my memories of the era might have clouded my judgment slightly. If the names of the bands I mentioned earlier don't ring any bells, then you may be left baffled by the movie and feel free to take a point or two from my score. If, on the other hand you remember the times and want to see them faithfully recreated and gain an insight into the chaos that was Factory then get it in.

 

/10.

See 24 Hour Party People if you enjoyed - Velvet Goldmine, 54, Last Days Of Disco.

Poster Quote - Youíre twisting my melon man.