Just Can't Function No More

Strangely, when I first hear about this movie, I was reading Film Comment. It was reviewed next to a movie called Unknown Pleasure. Hmmm, two movies centered around the same thing? Nope. Just one of those odd Jungian synchronicities.

24 Hour Party People is a movie that is centered around the self-described minor character, Tony Wilson. In reality, much of this movie has this intended contradiction. Tony Wilson was a literate man that hopped on to the growing punk scene in England and particularly Manchester. He formed Factory records and immediately signed Joy Division. Although, not close to the punk rock of the Clash or the Sex Pistols, Joy Division was a break through band. The second half of the movie deals with Tony's other key signing, the Happy Mondays.

The film maintains a farily fast pace, even though the historical times were not consistent with the pacing of the movie. During Joy Divison's career, England suffered the collapse of the welfare state - unemployment soared and worked stopped from the hospitals to the graveyards. Factory records, apparently, kept running at it's furious pace. But the movie is self-aware and even lets you know that it's better to hit the highlights and exaggerations than it is to focus on the facts.

The casting director did a fantastic job of finding the actors. The film is littered with the actual personalities - sometimes playing themselves, sometimes playing a minor role - a la Robert Altman. The other characters are completely believable as their historical personalities. In particular, the actor playing Bernard Sumner is a dead ringer.

After Ian Curtis's suicide, Factory records is struggling to stay afloat. Wilson purchases the Hacienda in Manchester. This club is not well attended until the summer of E - when Manchester became Madchester. The Happy Mondays emerge from this scene and the Hacienda becomes the birth of rave culture. For the first time, as the film points out, the audience is cheering the product - the deep bass and beats and not the producers - djs or rock bands.

There are some slow pars of the movie, but those may be from confusion or editing. Probably not a historical reference, but a historical commentary, 24 Hour Party People is a good movie for those interested in the music and the personalities surrounding it.

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