24 Hour Party People (UK/France/Netherlands; 115min.)

directed by: Michael Winterbottom
starring: Steve Coogan; Shirley Henderson; Paddy Considine
24 Hour Party People
Hilary says: "Part documentary, part biography with liberal doses of fiction and fantasy thrown into the mix, 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE is not so much to be watched as it is to be experienced. The visuals and soundtrack (which was turned up quite loud) keep the film moving along, rarely stopping for the audience to catch up.

"Steve Coogan stars as Tony Wilson, the Cambridge-educated journalist who struggles to reconcile his need to be taken seriously in his work with his dream of bringing new music to the people of the post-industrial town of Manchester. By turns Wilson is pompous, brilliant, misguided and Coogan gives a great and often hilarious performance.

"I didnít know too much about the musicians in the "Madchester" scene going into the film, and perhaps real aficionados would find fault, but I appreciated that it didnít require too much advance knowledge to enjoy it. There were large gaps in the history of the music, the lives of the musiciansí and Wilsonís own life (for instance, his second marriage and children were introduced well after the fact), but it works regardless, due to the intense pace and style of the film. I agree with Michael about the parallels with THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE (but Iím glad he said it first, since I was the only one who gave it a positive review). The role that memory plays in true recollection is central here, a notion reiterated throughout the film and addressed directly to the audience at different points.

"If youíre a big fan of Joy Division/New Order, the Happy Mondays and other Mancunian bands, or just in the mood for something a bit different and fun, check it out."
Laura says: "Winterbottom's film is an exuberant mess which is, in actuality, brilliantly put together. It's a heady rush that defies its audience to keep pace. Archival footage and recreations collide, as Coogan as Wilson dances in front of the real Sex Pistols. Margaret Thatcher's political climate is felt throughout even though it's the entertaining, non-stop anecdotes that are given front stage. Wilson's last night at the Hacienda, where he sees all the important people in his life, living and dead, is incredibly touching. Winterbottom then has Wilson see a Gilliamesque God on a rooftop and discover it is himself!

"The soundtrack is an 80's music lovers delight featuring Joy Division, New Order, A Certain Ratio, The Stranglers, Happy Mondays, the Buzzcocks and more.

"24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE is the biography of an era. Let Steve Coogan take you on this affectionate magical mystery tour of 'Madchester' in this most original of movies. " 4 1/2 cats
For Laura's complete review: "http://www.reelingreviews.com/24hourpartypeople.htm"
Michael says: "Michael Winterbottom's 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE follows the career of British journalist, Tony Wilson as he takes part in the rise of punk and new wave in Manchester, England in the early 80's. Wilson, a British television reporter caught the Sex Pistol's first concert in Manchester where he came into contact with a group of people who would be instrumental in the launching of Joy Division, who later became New Order. From there Wilson opened The Factory, a famous nightclub in Manchester. Later, he discovered The Happy Mondays and opened The Hacienda, another nightclub which gave birth to the rave culture.

"24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE ironically reminded me quite a bit of THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE, although (in my opinion) was far more successful. Both films were "true" stories about the rise and fall of men in the entertainment business, told from their point of view. PARTY PEOPLE is presented as a fictional film, and THE KID as a documentary, but that whole idea of truth is in the eye of the beholder is strong in both films.

"Winterbottom uses some inventive film techniques to tell a lively story. Shot in Digital Video, the combination of the vivid, realistic imagery, performance heavy scenes, and a raucous, new wave soundtrack all contributed to the feel of really being there. Comedian Steve Coogan was terrifically self-aware as Wilson, and Shirley Henderson (TOPSY TURVY, BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY) makes a strong impression in the first half as Coogan's wife, Shirley. Real-life participants in the Manchester music scene make cameos, including Tony Wilson himself.

"24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE is light years away from Winterbottom's last film, THE CLAIM (which I also enjoyed) and is more akin to WELCOME TO SARAJEVO in its take on docudrama, although in a much more light-hearted vein. If you enjoy the music of the period you shouldn't miss it, but even if you don't, this is one entertaining film." 4 cats