FILM REVIEW - 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE
Extremely funny look at the Madchester Manchester Music scene through its chief guru Tony Wilson, aka Anthony H Wilson, one time Granada Reports anchorman and journalist played superbly by Steve Coogan.
The story, told to the camera, in first person narrative for the main part (Alfie style) by Coogan, goes from the legendary late 1970's Sex Pistols gig at the Manchester Free Trade Hall to the bankruptcy and closure of Factory Records and its infamous legendary rave night-club, The Hacienda, and the final downfall after several comebacks of Tony Wilson.
The story is high comedy, albeit with moments of tragedy, such as the death of Ian Curtis, of Joy Division, before the group's triumphant comeback as New Order.
Essentially however it is a film about a man with an incredibly narcissistic ego. Wilson, who sulks if asked to work with anyone else called Tony, especially one chap with Tony as his surname, Wilson the Cambridge Philosophy graduate resentfully reduced to interviewing dwarfs who wash elephants at zoos, and an old man too senile to remember his days as a pioneer navvy.
Some moments are brilliant, i.e., the opening sequence when his report on hang-gliding involves him trying the sport first hand and he crashes to the ground (using footage of the real Tony Wilson doing the footage for real in the 1970’s). . Stumbling away, he turns to the camera to say that the scene is symbolic of what will follow and that we should remember the story of Icarus. He then adds that most viewers will know who Icarus is, but that it won't really matter if we don't and then adds again, that those who don't should read a few more books.
The film's pivotal moment is when his first of three wives leaves him after seeing him with prostitutes in the back of a van and takes revenge by seducing his best mate in a club lavatory. Coogan as Wilson merely to casually ask for his car keys and walks out past the lavatory cleaner... who is actually the real person who the man seduced in the toilet is... Coogan stops the film to introduce him and points out that the man wishes it to be on the record that the events described, though widely rumoured, never actually happened. Coogan walks off saying "Given the legend over the truth, go with the legend....."
Later the real Wilson will get similar cameo treatment, but many bands and artists play themselves, including the Happy Mondays, who's lead singer, Ian Curtis is introduced with his brother poisoning 3,000 pidgins on a Manchester rooftop with bread laced with rat poison. Wagner's Ride Of The Valkeries accompanies the death plummets of the birds.... truth or legend? Who knows?
What is known is that much money given to the Happy Mondays for a new recording to raise the fortunes of the heavily indebted Hacienda is doomed to support the Ryder Drug habit and the great club along with Wilson's career is over. He takes it philosophically, getting so stoned he has a vision of God who looks not unsurprisingly like Wilson, and tells him he missed the boat by not signing up The Smiths.
Brilliantly stylistic even if t you don't like the music. It may be the best music scene film since The Great Rock And Roll Swindle and a true tribute to the subversive Manchester that rolled on regardless of the hateful Thatcher era. True art.