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From punk to rave in northern England - a pulsating, highly original, thoroughly entertaining mess of a film.
Kev-B17 April 2002
24 Hour Party People is the story of Factory Records, a defiantly eccentric independent record label based in Manchester, England, which discovered acts as influential and diverse as Joy Division and the Happy Mondays.

The film is shot in mock-documentary style and narrated by Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan), the founder of Factory. Coogan portrays Wilson's double life as music svengali and cheesy local TV reporter to brilliant comic effect. Although Brits will draw the inevitable parallels between Coogan's Wilson and his ultra-naff TV persona, Alan Partridge, Coogan actually has Wilson off to a tee. Arrogant and pompous, Cambridge-educated Wilson is master of the pseudish sound bite (when he realises they have no tickets for a concert in his nightclub, he retorts `Did they have tickets for the Sermon on the Mount? Of course they didn't, people just turned up because they knew it would be a great gig'). But he also has a perceptive eye for the zeitgeist and his vision to create the Hacienda club transformed Manchester into Madchester, for a brief time the music capital of the world.

The story really starts with an early Sex Pistols gig in Manchester, attended by only 42 people, most of whom went on to have an influence on the Manchester music scene of the next 10 years. Wilson was in the audience, together with members of the band who went on to form the brilliant post-punk pioneers Joy Division. The first part of the film is really focussed on them and their manager, the aggressive and cantankerous Rob Gretton ( played by Paddy Considine), and their producer, the irascible acid-casualty Martin Hannett (another superb cameo by Andy Serkis) - both of whom are no longer alive. Joy Division's lead singer, Ian Curtis, is portrayed so accurately by Sean Harris that it's positively eerie, and the scenes of the band playing in rundown venues seem remarkably true to life and capture effectively the rawness and intensity of their live performances. The film also deals, rather insensitively, with the death of Curtis, who's feet we see swinging after he has strung himself up on a rope in his house. This segues uncomfortably into a town crier announcing his death to the world, and ends with scenes showing Curtis's body in a coffin at the crematorium.

From then on, the story continues with Joy Division's reincarnation as New Order and the building of the Hacienda nightclub, and the sometimes disastrous business decisions made by Wilson and Factory. When New Order released Blue Monday, the record sleeve was so expensive to produce they lost money on every copy sold. The single went on to become the biggest-selling 12' of all time, paradoxically crippling Factory in the process. The first nights at the Hacienda were also calamitous, with bands playing in front of single-figure audiences. Eventually however, the druggy indie dance kings Happy Mondays arrived on the scene, and acid house was born. Suddenly the Hacienda was the place to be and the Madchester rave scene became famous all over the world. The scenes of drugs-and-sex-excess on the Monday's tour bus and the re-creation of the Hacienda club nights are superbly portrayed.

The final part of the film tells how gang violence led to the closure of the club and the drug-riddled misadventures of the Mondays, especially their singer Shaun Ryder, led to their downfall and had severe financial implications for Factory Records (Wilson had inexplicably sent them to Barbados to record their last Factory album). Eventually, Factory was sold, lock, stock and barrel, to another label (who were perturbed to find Wilson had not signed any contracts with any of the Factory bands, effectively giving the artists total creative freedom).

24 Hour Party People is a real rollercoaster ride. There are some brilliant acting performances, punctuated by cameos from real members of the Manchester music scene (such as Howard Devoto and Mark E. Smith). The merging of legend and reality may make it difficult for people unfamiliar with events to work out what actually happened. But this is no accurate, austere documentary, but a touching, sometimes surreal, and often very, very funny, anarchic portrayal of a time and a place and it's music. Oh, and of course, the soundtrack is fantastic.
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Terrific music bio with award-worthy acting by Steve Coogan
gortx11 September 2002
Ignore the awful ads for 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE (which are bollocks!), and run out and see the film while it is out in limited release. Anybody with an interest in Alternative Music in general, and the British Punk/New Wave & Rave scenes should see this examination of the past 25 years of British rock as filtered through the eyes of Factory Records' Tony Wilson.

Perhaps a bit too "inside" for general audiences, it is a rare example of a music based film that its actually good cinema to go along with it's raucous soundtrack. Well done, wry and entertaining. My only quibbles are that the filmmakers seem to be preaching to the converted. Except for the tragic Ian Curtis (JOY DIVISION), little attempt is made to inform the uninitiated as to why these bands mattered (NEW ORDER in particular, is just tossed around almost as a brand name, rather than a living breathing artistic unit). Also, we are constantly told how wonderful Manchester is as a city, but we are never really shown why. Steve Coogan's portrayal of Wilson really makes the film flow and live. It's not the kind of role that usually wins awards, but here's hoping some critics group somewhere notices. He's that fine.
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Worth multiple viewings and a little homework
DestroyTheFives24 June 2003
I get the general sense from reading some of the reviews that people didn't like this movie because it didn't provide any instant gratification or personal meaning. That's probably true for people who don't know Joy Division, New Order, or the Happy Mondays, but I think it's totally unfair to discredit this film on a basis of a lack of prior knowledge. Many great films and novels aren't great because you get them on the first try, and I think that this movie follows the same path. If you didn't like it the first time, take a look at an old Tony Wilson interview or a concert tape of Joy Division and you will instantly see the quality production and acting that went into this film. Ian Curtis/Joy Division are portrayed with an eerily haunting accuracy (down to the instruments they play, which are rumoured to be the originals from the late 1970s) and you can tell that the cast really did their homework. The concert scenes are spectacularly energetic, the sets (especially the Hacienda) are ripped right out of the time period. Comic relief isn't overlooked, as the dry humour of Steve Coogan and the rest of the cast is pursued to the dime. The unscripted dialogue is also quite good, which is another indication of the actors' homework. This movie is worth the time: it details a very important time and place in pop music history that is often overlooked in the wake of much larger, more commercialized scenes. Rave and post-punk may be fading today, but one need only take a look at the charts to see its influence. Go out and get this movie, learn a little about it, and you will be impressed.
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Two words: Fookin' Brellyint!
Lexx-224 February 2004
This is, was and forever will be one of my favourite films of all time. A joyous love letter to the music, magic and madmen of Manchester, 24 Hour Party People is utterly, utterly exhilarating. Even if you don't know your New Order from your Durutti Column, you'll be hard-pressed not to get a kick out of Michael Winterbottom and Frank Cottrel Boyce's freewheeling depiction of a great time in pop culture.

In a nutshell, this is the story of a scene, a scene that grew out of the british punk explosion of the mid seventies. Inspired by the rising vibe in his home town, television presenter Tony Wilson, with the aid of colleagues Rob Gretton and Alan Erasmus created Factory Records. Factory is, as described in the film "an experiment in human nature", with no written contracts (barring one written on a napkin in Wilson's own blood) and total creative freedom for its acts. From the mid seventies to the early nineties, Factory launched a barrage of fresh and exciting talent on an unsuspecting world, ranging from punk (Joy Division, later to become New Order) to house (A Guy Called Gerald) and dance (Happy Mondays). At the centre of it all was Wilson, all the while balancing his empire building with a steady day job with Granada Television.

Winterbottom's film crams sixteen years of music history into under two hours, using and appropriately chaotic mix of storytelling techniques to rocket the story along. It's by no means an accurate account, (just listen to the commentary by Wilson on the DVD) but encapsulates the spirit of the Manchester Movement beautifully. The plot itself is split into two halves. Firstly, the early punk days, spearheaded by a promising quartet called Joy Division. Joy Division were the first notable artistic success of the label, but were hindered by controversy (the name was derived from the Nazi division of women who were used in an attempt to create the master race), gigs that often degenerated into brawls and most crucially, a talented, but troubled, severely epileptic lead singer, one Ian Curtis. The rapid rise and even faster fall of Joy Division anchors the first half.

The second half sees us bear witness to the birth of rave culture, aided along by one of Wilson's acts, the Happy Mondays. Formed by brothers Shaun and Paul Ryder, they blazed through Manchester in a blizzard of coke and heroin and shaped dance music in no small way. Oh, and they pretty much helped to run Factory into the ground.

Bouncing from hilarious comedy (a great deal of it improvised)to genuine poignancy (the decline of Curtis is heartbreaking stuff) the film is an utter triumph of wit, wonderment and technique. As Wilson, comedian Steve Coogan is nothing short of dynamic. Teetering on the right side caricature (and injecting a great deal of his Alan Partridge persona in to the mix) Coogan is the lynchpin for an otherwise wildly chaotic narrative. The entire cast do sterling work impersonating the Manchester luminaries of old (and by old, I mean young, before the drugs and booze). From Danny Cunningham's uninhibited Shaun Ryder to John Simm's gentle Bernard Sumner and Andy Serkis's fearsome Martin Hannet, (an arguably more fearsome character than Gollum if you ask me....) they're all great. But best of all is Sean Harris, who is simply unforgettable as Ian Curtis. He's so dead-on accurate its almost scary, from the haunted eyes and cheeky humor (witness his first meeting with Wilson) to the eccentric dance moves, its a performance that deserves every award in the book.

Oh and the music. Well if you're already a fan, I sure as hell don't need to say it, do I?

As it was, so it goes and so do I. See this movie before you die. Go on, rent it tonight, rent it now, buy it if you have to or if you're really desperate, just steal a copy. But please, see this movie, you won't regret it.
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Nicely done!
Decko_koji_obecava9 February 2004
Like any other movie about rock music, documentary or not, '24 Hour Party People' packs its fair share of inside material and self-indulgent frivolity.

Due to a crammed timeframe of 20 years (essentially one big juggling act of people, bands and events) connecting all the dots required multiple viewings, even if I had certain prior knowledge of the Manchester music scene in the late '70s, '80s and the early '90s. Making matters still more difficult is the variety of extremely thick accents - to a point of entire sections of dialogue or monologue occasionally flying by with only a single word or two actually registering with me. While it added to film's authenticity, that got to be more than a bit annoying after a while. Where's that closed captioned TV set when you desperately need it?

As far as the treatment of the subjects themselves goes, the movie does an adequate job. I mean, when it gets right down to it, the only structure such a film can more-or-less follow is the basic listing of a series of real events (and in this particular case most of them already well documented). Naturally, as such it doesn't allow for a whole lot of substantial artistic freedom so the director employs many little asides, winks and nudges by our narrator Tony Wilson (often through the 'fourth wall') as well as visual tricks and, obviously, music to make this different from, say, something you might see on VH1's 'Behind the Music'. In addition to being one of the major driving forces behind the whole scene, Tony also held a full-time job at Granada TV all throughout this period, which the movie uses skillfully for comic relief.

Predictably (not that I'm complaining), things like: Ian Curtis' suicide, the opening of the Haçienda club, ascent and demise of Factory Records, Shaun Ryder's famously out-of-control & self destructive shenanigans, all receive special treatment. Through Steve Coogan's excellent performance, Tony Wilson, our guide through this zoo, comes off as a pretty fascinating fellow. Director Michael Winterbottom makes a wise choice in leaving out many details from his private life in favour of the music itself and the people who created it. Wilson's second wife and kids, for example, are barely mentioned - with a cheeky remark about Tony being a minor character in his own life story as an explanation for the lack of on-screen time devoted to them.

In the end, whether or not you enjoy '24 Hour Party People' will largely, if not entirely, depend on your level of familiarity or appreciation of the bands like Joy Division, New Order, The Happy Mondays and to a lesser extent of their punk inspirations and predecessors like The Stranglers, The Jam, Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, Siouxsie and the Banshees, who are also depicted in the film.

Personally, even though I was always aware of the British new wave, most of its music & 'shtick' pretty much slipped under my radar so I recently started discovering it retroactively. Therefore, it was a blast to see a well-done, interesting film celebrating that era in popular music. These blokes created & performed honest, full-blooded, passionate tunes, which is the single most important thing that comes through the movie.

P.S: The Smiths, another famous and influential Manchester band are notably absent from much of the film. This is probably due to the fact that back in 1983 both Tony and New Order producer/manager Rob Gretton agreed their demo was crap, so instead to Factory they went to Rough Trade Records based in London. They're mentioned briefly at the end, though, when Tony speaks to God himself who among other things tells him: "it's a pity you didn't sign The Smiths". :) Brilliant!
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great mocku-docu-rockumentary
jimi9927 July 2003
This movie is quite hyperbolic about the Manchester scene which is portrayed with so much style, energy, humor, and gutty performances, that even if you weren't a fan of Joy Division & Happy Mondays, this particular musical revolution is extolled on a par with Memphis early 50's, the whole of UK 1963-65, San Francisco 1966-67, or Austin 1972-74. I wasn't a fan of those Manchester bands, but I really enjoyed all of the music in this film. And Steve Coogan's performance and the structure of his charismatic part are wonderful. And very funny.

Like "SLC Punk" and movies like "Rude Boy" and the Sex Pistols movies, "24 Hour Party People" captures the anger of the times and incredible energy of that socio-musical upheaval, and ultimately the sadness at the inevitable passing of a bright moment in popmusic history. When Coogan/Wilson brags about the birth of the rave culture in his club in his beloved city, taking credit for another major movement, I didn't feel his pride or excitement, only that sense of sadness at the techno-evolution of punk...
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how did I miss seeing this movie till now?
Quinoa19843 August 2005
24 Hour Party People is just one of those movies that has that click with the subject matter. The actual style of the film corresponds with the music, the irreverence, and the energy of it all. But there's more than just the unconventionality of the script and direction; the film has that sort of stream-of-thought, wry, distinct British humor to it, and a sincerity beneath the absurdist parts. It follows its main character down the line, in a surreal way like a documentary, if that makes sense- we move between Tony Wilson addressing the audience (played by Steve Coogan, who is so on target with the honesty of the portrayal you can't picture anyone else in the role), an almost behind-the-scenes filming of it (I think), and a dramatization shot on pure digital, independent vibes.

Wilson, who sees the Sex Pistols play in Manchester (his hometown, and the main base and heart in the location of this film), is also a journalist on television. He gets so enamored with what he sees as an extremely important part of history (the viewer will get a good idea of this), he gets involved with the bands, the locals, and goes from just bands, to maintaining the Hacienda, a club. Some parts of the film one might expect, if considering it includes the rise and fall of fame (or rather, in this film, a lot of times in the mind), and the drug scene coinciding with the music. One knows that Tony Wilson is the main character, the protagonist, basically in every scene, but somehow he does not become the only important part of the film's success. The music too is a huge factor, and the speed it sets for a movie like this.

As much biography as musical, 24 Hour Party People brings to light the scene of Manchester as a history lesson, but an entertaining one to boot. Bands like New Order (the form after Joy Division split) will be known to most who follow music, but unless if you're not really steeped in the new-wave/dance scene of the 80's and 90's, some of the bands may sound totally unfamiliar. Still, this is not an automatic deterrent- the music is what it is, and most who will want to see the film will know what they're getting (in truth, the ratio of British punk and new-wave vs. electronica is fairly balanced). But even when some of the music doesn't stand the test of time, it serves the story all the same (some of the more interesting and darkly funny scenes are when no one comes to the club the sort of 'mix-way' between the two musical eras).

And all through this, Coogan plays it like a pro. The Coogan Wilson, of course, is far from the real Tony Wilson (one of the DVD interviews says he's a 'Jerry Springer'-looking type), so it becomes more of being a character in this whole environment that springs up around and by him. In a way he's kind of like a British Andy Warhol with the idealistic, serious journalist instead of the painter/filmmaker. There's a sort of checked insanity that underlays some of his performance, and yet for most of the time, like a lot of the better British actors, he doesn't play it more for laughs than he needs, and when serious drama/tragedy comes up it's still kept to this reality. So, along with him, and the music, and the strange form of putting together a dramatized, documentary/musical/black comedy by director Michael Winterbottom and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce, it all gels. This is one of the finest sleepers I've seen in a while.
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Off his Face and Off his Head!
ian willmore29 April 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Welcome to the wonderful world of Wilson. Tony Wilson, that is. Tony is a Cambridge graduate, a fed up local TV reporter, the genius founder of the Hacienda Club and Factory Records, and of course - as key players in this movie constantly point out to him - a complete and utter "c**t".

Worried that "Joy Division" is a bad name for a band, given its Nazi associations? Tony will wave you away with a cry of "haven't you ever heard of semiotics? Does post-modernism mean nothing to you?". Keen to get a record contract but anxious not to sell your soul to some pop Svengali? Tony will cut his hand and write out a "walk away, anytime" guarantee in his own blood. Fancy an all night rave with the Happy Mondays? Tony will splash out two thirds of a million quid on a truly cool new club, where the bar never makes any money because everyone is E'd up to their ears and only the dealers are cashing in. Want a free trip to Barbados, to party on while you should be cutting a record? Tony's company will fly you there first class, and won't even notice that you haven't recorded any lyrics until they plonk the final DAT tape on the hi-fi system back at company HQ (where the ludicrous designer table costs £30,000, a typical Wilson excess that provokes a fellow director to violence during a board meeting).

Meanwhile, Tony keeps up the day job as a reporter for Granada TV. Tony brings us the duck that herds sheep, the town crier who belts out the news of the suicide of Ian Curtis, Joy Division's lead singer, with a look of blank incomprehension, and of course the old git who used to work on Manchester ship canal in the days of Queen Victoria but can't remember anything about it.

Just as well, really, despite his despairing cries to his producer of "I'm a Cambridge English graduate!" and "Of course I take myself seriously!" Just as well because Factory Records, the Hacienda Club and the whole Wilson empire is built on air, and inevitably implodes leaving nothing behind but some bad hangovers and even worse debts.

But Wilson achieves his apotheosis, and we see that behind the convincing facade of "c**t" there is something admirable. When offered £5 million for the whole operation by some greasy London record company he points out that the entire record of his business is the orginal non-contract, written in his own blood and now framed above the opulent company table. "I avoided selling out", he explains, "by the simple expedient of never acquiring anything worth selling".

Wilson is played by Steve Coogan, an English comedian highly rated in this country for TV shows such as "This is Alan Patridge". Previous Coogan film efforts have been failures. In this he has merely followed so many English comedians before him (remember Morecambe and Wise in "The Intelligence Men"? No, of course you don't). But this performance is really excellent, rightly making Wilson seem absurd, pretentious, annoying, frivolous and lovable all at once. Sean Harris is magnetic in a too brief performance as Ian Curtis, who had too brief a life. Danny Cunningham is fine as Sean Ryder, who still survives, despite his best endeavours. (In one of the film's more alarming moments, Ryder and his mates put Tom Lehrer's injunction to Poison a Pigeon in the Park into full effect.) Followers of British comedy and music will enjoy spotting dozens of other guest appearances. Michael Winterbottom directs efficiently, and the movie has just enough of Wilson's vaunted post-modern detachment to lend a sense of irony while avoiding annoyance. The soundtrack, which being largely from Factory Records' back catalogue is Wilson's lasting monument, is wonderful.

See this movie.
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Raving Manchester
Chrysanthepop5 March 2009
I was mislead by the trailers of '24 Hour Party People' have been very misleading. I thought it would be another 'Trainspotting' type movie about party animals. However, it's something different, something better. Though many have compared it to the likes of 'Studio 54' (Lord knows why), '24 Hour Party People' is a far better made and more effective film. Based on a true story, it takes place during the time when punk rock was subsiding and new kinds of music were born in England. Shot with a digital camera, in documentary style with some use of live footage and narrated by Tony Wilson, (who leads a double life as a TV reporter and music producer), Michael Winterbottom takes us into the rave culture in Manchester, that of sex, drugs and rock and roll. We see it all from Wilson's point of view and we are amused by the layers of his character. Coogan breathes life into Tony Wilson and brings an excellent humour in his portrayal. Paddy Considine and Shirley Henderson stand out too. Pretty much all the performances appear authentic. Watch out for cameos by Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg and Marsha Thomason and by real bandmembers. The portrayal of the Manchester culture, the scenes inside the club and the bands look very real. Winterbottom infuses loads of energy and craze to 'seduce' the viewer. He cleverly injects dry humour which only supports that this is more than just a documentary-like movie. The soundtrack is a must-have and for those who love movies about music, this is a must see.
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I wish I could love this movie...
dbdumonteil23 September 2004
As I am a big fan of the bands who secured the glory of Factory Records, especially Joy Division and Durutti Column, I was quite impatient to discover "24 Hour Party People". I watched it last night and the first thing i will say will be the following one: how disappointed I was! The scriptwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce and especially the director Michael Winterbottom did a really bad work and I will try to explain why.

For me "24 Hour Party People" is an enjoyable movie to listen to, mainly thanks to the music. Someone has written on this site that you had to be British to appreciate the music. Not necessarily. I am myself French and I love most of the bands who signed for Factory Records. Obviously, you have to like this time (English independent music of the eighties), this culture. That said, these bands aren't very known in France where they remain at the stage of cult-bands. Michael Winterbottom's flick was apparently successful in Great-Britain, but in France it was belatedly launched (on the 4th June 2003) and it went unnoticed. But the main problem is that "24 Hour Party People" is, visually an exhausting movie to watch. I must say that I don't appreciate very much the making adopted by Winterbottom. There's an amateurish side, reinforced by a granular and quite dirty photography in his way of filming that I highly disapprove. It seems that his camera can't stand still even in the quietest moments. On another hand, when the movie arrives at the end of the eighties (the golden age for Manchester), as if he wanted to recreate the crazy atmosphere of the town in 1989-1990, he didn't skimp on the flashy effects which ends up annoying the spectator. Then, Winterbottom must have been influenced by "Trainspotting" (1996) because in his directing, we can sometimes detect a video clip side.

To go on, the authors of the movie seem to have forgotten one important thing. Factory Records wasn't only limited to Joy Division and the Happy Mondays. There was also Durutti Column and New Order. All right, the movie doesn't forget them but you can only see them for a few minutes. Given that, the film nearly skips the mid-eighties and quite obviously Joy Division and the Happy Mondays's careers especially interested the authors. Due to this, you can easily separate the movie in two parts. The first one mainly focuses on Joy Division while the second involves mostly the Happy Mondays. This characteristic is confirmed with the cover of the original soundtrack which depicts Tony Wilson (of course) but also Ian Curtis and Shaun Ryder. By way of consolation, we can object that Winterbottom had intuition for the cast because the actors he hired to play the musicians are very true to life, especially the ones in the roles of Ian Curtis and Bernard Sumner. Furthermore, the actor who acts Martin Hannett is very convincing in the shameless personality of this extraordinary producer.

Tony Wilson's voice-off is necessary to guide us through the most important stages. So as to give the spectator interest in the film, it can also be a good thing to make Wilson directly speak to the camera to make us share his feelings, his thoughts on Manchester, the music. So long as this idea doesn't overload the movie and I have unfortunately this impression. Winterbottom and Boyce should have restrained these too frequent apparitions.

The screenplay retained the most outstanding moments in the history of Tony Wilson and Factory Records but it doesn't stop it from having neglecting important stages as well. For example, I am sure that the fans of Joy Division would have liked to see the band recording their great disembodied album, "Closer" (1980). Then, in the first part of the work, the "punk" and "new-wave" spirit are well rendered (in one sequence, we see one character taking off from the wall a poster depicting Pink Floyd's album "Dark Side Of The Moon" (no Pink Floyd in 1977!) as well as the festive one in the second part through the Hacienda and ecstasy. But because, the director wanted to dazzle the spectator, at a visual level, it is difficult to fully enjoy this exhausting film. So you are never touched by a movie that is meant to take a nostalgic look at a past time.

This is my opinion about "24 Hour Party People": excellent music but an average movie. If a director wishes to make a film about Alan McGee, the former boss of Creation Records (Oasis and Primal Scream's former record company), I hope he won't do the same mistakes as Michael Winterbottom with this flick.
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tedg28 June 2007
There's more to this than meets the eye.

You may like it simply for the music. Superficially, it is a one of those things unsuitably called a "docudrama," a category that I don't quite understand.

But here's the way it is constructed. We have a fellow whose job is to show viewers around odd and interesting things. He's a character who takes on a metarole in the film as our guide, sometimes within the movie and sometimes stepping out of it and speaking directly to us, using several modes.

And the subject of this carefully folded structure? Anarchism. Music as anarchy, as specifically breaking the musical equivalent of narrative. I'm not sure that anyone can honestly like this music without making the commitment themselves. Otherwise, its a sort of perverse voyeurism, but I guess that's what drives the music business.

Winterbottom isn't a halfway kinda guy though, and you should be inclined to share anything he serves up. Here, he is back in the German new wave mode, where there is no story at all. No arc, no climax. Each event just sort of falls into the next. The camera (which takes the role of the watcher within, Tony, and the watcher without) similarly falls. To underscore this, Winterbottom has Ian Curtis hang himself in front of a TeeVee. On that is playing Herzog's Stroszek, dancing chicken and the amuck truck. Its Herzog's film with the same attitude: no narrative, a loss of narrative is the narrative or where the hole is.

After that death, incidentally, is one of the most haunting images I've seen. I do not think it is taken from another film. Children in Klan suits, some black, parade in a highly stylized 2d shot, then one carries a huge, erect Klan hat on a false color beach and tumbles.

You might consider this the male lover of "9 Songs." I do.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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Good Job I Enjoyed The Joy Division Soundtrack
Theo Robertson15 December 2005
So Alan Partridge was based upon Tony Wilson ? I always genuinely believed that Coogan's legendary comedy character was based on Richard Madeley but watching the real Tony Wilson's pretentious egotistical and painfully insincere conversations on television I suppose there is a bit of Wilson in Partridge - Or is the fact that Coogan plays Wilson in this biographical movie something that prejudices my view ? Come to think of it Wilson's body language and hand gestures remind me far more of Tony Blair than anyone else . I digress

24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE is a highly self indulgent mockumentary film centered on the creation of Manchester based Factory Records . Highly self indulgent in the way it brings to the narrative things that only the real life characters know or give a toss about . Things like the real life Howard DeVoto ( It's okay I've never heard of him either ) addressing the camera and saying " I can't remember that bit " . That's nice to know Howard because Western Civilisation was resting on this part of the plot - If not the entire movie . I'm sure we can all rest easy in our beds knowing the truth and I look forward to the sequel PEOPLE TONY Wilson KNOWS AND THEIR HOME MOVIES

Two things make the movie worth watching for me ...

1 ) The eclectic cast featuring people as diverse as Andy Serkis , Christopher Ecclestone , Peter Kay and Jack Duckworth's son

2 ) The soundtrack . Most especially Joy Division , a band that was (in)famous for its bleak , nihilistic tones and the bizarre on stage antics of Ian Curtis and praise too for Sean Harris who captures Curtis's mannerism perfectly

But unless you've enjoyed the music of at least one Manchester band be it Joy Division , New Order or The Happy Mondays you might not want to join this party
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Manchester Music Scene Perfectly Evoked
gundo4 March 2005
I will start off by saying that if you're American then don't bother watching the film unless you're a big New Order/Joy Division/Factory Records fan otherwise your arrogant, narrow minded small town sensibilities will be pricked.

I grew up in Manchester for a while and was at UMIST in mid 80's (New Order came out with Low Life whilst I was there and it changed my musical tastes overnight) and this film really evokes the atmosphere of Manchester and it's music.

I'll readily admit it's not going to be a film that's easily understood if you're from Wichita Falls and only listen to Guns & Roses/Patsy Cline/Shania Twain...

A fan's film really and therefore will appeal most to those into the music and the personalities of the place the film's talking about.
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Fun, but no soul
paul2001sw-12 March 2007
One is first tempted to greet 'Twenty Four Hour Party People', the story of the rise and fall of Factory Records, with a groan on discovering that 80s (and even 90s) nostalgia is already with us. But at least the film is made by Michael Winterbottom whose movies, some brilliant and some not, at least have the merit that each one is quite unlike the others. Which means that some freshness is virtually guaranteed, and Witnerbottom tells this story in an irreverent, self-knowing fashion that is at least lively, although it does sometimes give the film the feel of low-budget sitcom. This feeling is also enhanced by the casting of comedian Steve Coogan, an actor of little depth, as Factory Records boss Tony Wilson. Like Coogan's famous alter-ego Alan Partridge Wilson was a TV presenter, but it is hard to tell whether he was quite as similar to Partridge as this film suggests, or if Coogan simply isn't up to the job of playing a different character. And the decision to tell the story of Wilson also seems strange: he was not a kid whose life was transformed, or a singer whose songs were sung the world over: he even kept his day job, and there's little underlying character development in his story. Rationally, this isn't a very good film, although it's actually quite watchable, and all the more so if you have lived through this era, and listened to the music as it was new. But there are lots of potentially interesting stories, like the death of Ian Curtis, or the wave of idealism that briefly flourished with the coming of Ecstasy, which could have been covered with a bit more feeling. This movie is fun, but perhaps also a wasted opportunity; others who revisit this era will surely have more to say.
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A Strung Out High by Thomas J. O'Connor
hundredacrefilms20 December 2005
"24 Hour Party People" chronicles the unlikely rise of British journalist turned record producer/promoter Tony Wilson amidst the emerging Manchester music scene in the late 70's. It's questionable as to how big a role Wilson actually played in the success of such bands as the "Sex Pistols" or "Joy Division", but the screenwriter makes him the protagonist. Wilson's biggest contribution was offering a venue a la Studio 54 where the exploration of music there evolved by happenstance into what is todays Electronica genre.

The film's pace resembles the doldrums of a strung out high and is as aimless as the success that came to its real life counterparts. One of the disc's two audio commentaries features the real life Tony Wilson bemoaning the apparent sensationalism of the film in contrast to the "truth," to which the filmmakers cleverly counterpoint in the film's narrative, "When you have to choose between the truth and the legend, print the legend."
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Mad for it? Not quite, but I still enjoyed it
Aidan McGuinness14 June 2002
After Coogan's last effort, the dreadful `The Parole Officer' I was wary of `24 Hour Party People'. I needn't have worried – the two are not at all comparable.

The movie tells the true story of Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan), owner of Manchester's Factory Records, signing up the new, innovative bands that catches Wilson's talented eye as well as creating a club for groups to play in. Two of these bands – Joy Division and The Happy Mondays – are the main focus for the movie, seeing as how these bands, with their eclectic leads and band members , caused enough of a ruckus to have a decent story told about them.

The film is shot in a borderline mockumentary style with Wilson making often very funny humorous asides to the camera. This style, by director Michael Winterbottom , is itself a tribute to the low-key cheap but energetic music of the time, which spans from the mid 70s to early 90s. The movie is interspersed with clips from other media, including concert footage of the bands. It gives an almost TV-production feel to the movie, but that doesn't detract from the story.

Unfortunately if you are unfamiliar with the subject material, and the bands, you will be possibly lost, as the film seems to assume a certain familiarity with everything. As the film covers a span of years it tends to dip in at certain moments – the idea isn't so much as to be a documentary, as a homage to the era, giving the viewer a flavour of the times, which is grand if only you know what you are tasting. `24 Hour Party People' will best be enjoyed by people familiar with the movie's subject matter. Coogan is on fine form here, his Wilson somewhat reminiscent of his earlier TV work which brought him to fame. The mixture of humour and tragedy, plus some fine imitations of real bands, makes for an entertaining movie that is one of the best of the British movies to come out in recent times. 7.5/10.
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"The Beatification of the Beat."
Camera-Obscura7 March 2007
Still first choice for a late pop-in into the DVD-player when you're having friends over for a late-night drink. Most of them have seen it by now, but I've yet to disappoint someone. It's a great success every time, again and again. You'd wanna see this for the music, but you don't even have to like Joy Division, Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks, The Smiths, A Certain Ratio, The Fall, Happy Mondays, this is just plain clever and fun. That's all there is to it.

I was a fan of Joy Division before I saw this film and basically became a fan of everything Mancunian afterwards. The film consists of two parts. The first hour is Joy Division and the second hour is for The Happy Mondays and the subsequent new rave and techno developments. It's a blast, filled with priceless observations about musical developments, hilariously delivered by Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson, chief mogul of the chaotic Factory Records and Grenada Television reporter. All the other characterizations are simply brilliant. Don't miss it.

Camera Obscura --- 9/10
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Welcome to Manchester
sinistre111113 December 2003
This film is a loose biography of the Manchester music scene, as told through the eyes of one of its chief supporters, Factory records mini-mogul Tony Wilson. This is done in a dramatic, non-documentary style, with a lot of amusing fourth-wall commentary from the main character. I found it very entertaining, and believe me when I say my expectations were low. Whenever they hire actors to play rock icons I get very leery. Gary Oldman as Sid Vicious? Okay. That's the one good instance I can think of off the top of my head. But the guy who played Ian Curtis was absolutely sincere and the performance touched me. From a cinematography standpoint, as the eras passed in the film, from the 70s through to the 90s, the look of the film updated itself accordingly. I thought this was brilliant and very unassumingly done. Watching 24-Hour Party People also set us off on a whole Happy Mondays kick here at home; a band whose music we couldn't have been less interested in before. Shaun Rider's newer project, Black Grape, is also very good, but that's another review for another website. Recommended viewing not only for fans of the pop musicians involved in the story, but also for those of contemporary creative British cinema.
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highly enjoyable
DrDVine5 April 2003
highly enjoyable

first of all I have to say, that my music knowledge of the time period considered by the movie tends to zero. Most of the reviews came to the conclusion, that in this case it's impossible to enjoy this movie. Well, in fact I did. A lot of the shortcomings that are claimed, I have to agree on, especially concerning the script. But never the less this movie does something what only good movies do. It takes you to a different point of view. Right, I normally might don't care about a band like "Joy Division", but through the eyes of Tony Wilson I do. I was taken back to a different time, space and lifestyle, more or less to an other universe and I very much like it, though I have no idea if the thing experienced with the movie has anything to do with what it really was like. Beside this the movie is a fine piece of filmmaking and there fore just a pleasure to watch. Good acting, well done pseudo documentary style approach, loads of dry humor. Sometimes it gets a bit sentimental, but this you have to stand through, which is not this hard, because thankfully the film doesn't take it self to serious. This doesn't mean it would not be totally devoted to it's subject, but it just takes it with a twinkle in it's eye. The most important point of course is the music. Even being no fan of it and having no clue about the bands, the music alone is worth seeing this movie All in all it's of course not a masterpiece or a work of genius, but it's highly enjoyable for anyone who will allow to be take with to a place where (supposedly) history was made.
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"I'll just say one word: 'Icarus'. If you get it, great. If you don't, that's fine too. But you should probably read more."
ametaphysicalshark18 October 2008
It would be unfair to dismiss "24 Hour Party People" as a biographical look at Tony Wilson. It's so much more. It's a celebration of music, of a lifestyle, of a bygone era. It also plays like a Greek tragedy, albeit substantially more fun, but there is no shortage of darkness and tragedy in the film. The shifts in tone are particularly remarkable, as the film veers from its usual dry, sardonic tone into real pathos and examination of the dark side of almost any phenomenal success.

I'm not completely nuts. I'm not going to claim that "24 Hour Party People" is a visual masterpiece, or a film which achieves more with its characters than most accepted 'masterpieces' of cinema when it comes to depth. I'm not going to argue that it feels as complete an artistic achievement as one of the better films by a cinematic 'master'. Wait, what am I talking about? That's exactly what I'm going to argue. "24 Hour Party People" is as perfect as a film can get, not because it achieves the visual perfection of one of Kubrick's finer films, not because it marks a turning point in cinema history, but because it sets out to be exactly what it ends up being- a hilarious, darkly satirical and yet affectionate look at one of the biggest 'scenes' in music history, some of the best bands, and the man behind it all, Tony Wilson. A minor player in his own life story. This is one of the most purely enjoyable films ever made.

It all unfolds with a sort of inspired madness. The very first scene shows the charismatic, arrogant, and somewhat self-important Tony Wilson hang-gliding for a television report, then turning to the camera after that's over with and saying "You're going to see a lot more of that sort of thing in the film. I don't want to say too much, don't want to spoil it. I'll just say one word: 'Icarus'. If you get it, great. If you don't, that's fine too. But you should probably read more." It's not only a terrific line, indicative of the sort of dry wit much of the dialogue achieves, but also telling of what the film is going to be like. J.R. Jones of the Chicago Reader was one of the less infatuated major critics with the film (but still gave it a definitely positive review, which should give you some indication of just how well-received this film was by critics), and labeled Coogan's Wilson a a pedantic narrator, describing his story as having little narrative momentum of its own. I like to think that's sort of the point, and Wilson himself makes a point to mention in the film that it's not a film about him.

The highlight of the film, arguably even more than Frank Cottrell Boyce's screenplay, is Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson. As everyone reading this probably knows, Coogan based his famed Alan Partridge character on Tony Wilson's career as a television reporter, so he's really playing a variation on Alan Partridge here. What's amazing about Coogan's performance is that he manages to draw even this Partridge fan into Tony Wilson's world so much that I didn't care about any similarity. It's still a stunning comic performance, and excellent during the darker, more serious scenes in the film as well. I'd go as far as saying that it's one of the best male performances of the decade. The rest of the cast is too large to go through one by one, but everyone is excellent here, some going for a sort of slightly altered impersonation of the real-life person they're playing, some creating their own version.

A point of criticism often aimed at "24 Hour Party People" is inaccuracy. The film is gleefully inaccurate, and I fail to see how that's a problem. We didn't need a pedantic, touch-on-all-bases film about Factory Records, because Factory Records would never have made such a movie had they ventured into film production. This is exactly the sort of loose-knit and yet tightly-written film that is needed to capture the energy of the music and the movement. Boyce's screenplay goes through dozens of characters, none of which don't feel real, it's got enough pompous and arrogant philosophizing to turn off even the worst pseudo-intellectual, but it makes it work simply because it's got a sort of self-mocking sense of humor. The points Wilson makes by referencing history and philosophy are valid, but it would be at odds with the sort of film this is if they weren't written with the wry wit the rest of the film is, and if they weren't delivered so wonderfully by Coogan. The film is shot on video, and uses a hand-held style which far from inhibiting the film as it arguably does with some other Winterbottom films, just suits it perfectly. That doesn't mean there aren't some scenes which are explosively extravagant visually, because there are, and they are beautiful.

"24 Hour Party People" feels like a complete artistic achievement. It captures the energy of the music, the feel of it, the basis for the movement so well, but also succeeds at providing a well-told summary of the story of Factory Records, the Hacienda, and Tony Wilson. As far as I'm concerned it's one of the most enjoyable films ever made, and one of the most consistently successful. I don't think there's anything here that falls flat, it's all quite brilliant, from the first scene to the final shot.

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onepotato217 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This was basically thrown away by MGM, to audiences which had to find it themselves. Which is somewhat in keeping with a record label whose products had to be sought out, then correctly deciphered (Factory products weren't labeled, as such). Only here, all the promotional materials were limp and half-hearted (poster, DVD box, marketing, etc). Never hand the marketing of counterculture to the timid drones who work at a mass-market studio like MGM.

This assembles the Factory/Joy Division/Happy Mondays/Manchester story for those who came late to the game, or were geographically out of the picture. Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan) acts as historian, tour guide, and chronicler of the Manchester scene that produced the hideously over-valued and mythologized Joy Division. The technique is to acknowledge that we're watching a movie now and again which spares it from a typical plot line, and emotional arc. Plot-schmott, just enjoy yourself watching a maverick music guru getting dragged down by a nightclub that's become an anchor around his neck. The movie has gotten way off track by the time Tony is taking credit for rave culture which has zero to do with the the initial impetus of putting together a label for a bunch of angry, anti-social, post-punk bands. Rave culture is about as angry as numbing yourself with drugs to look at pretty colors; and disappearing into your own baby-boomer-offspring selfishness ethos. The original Factory acts would have been punching these big babies.

Still I'd trade anything to live in a world of thirty billion Tony Wilsons (as remade here). He's always either smart, or funny, except when it comes to business. And the movie is infinitely better and more enjoyable than the similar 'Studio 54,' with Mike Myers as Steve Rubell. As everyone has noted it runs too long, and loses steam.
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Scaborous but Entertaining Musical Opus
BJJManchester18 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A frantic,no-holds barred biopic of the sadly recently deceased Tony Wilson,the Manchester-based regional news presenter turned record label owner turned nightclub owner(influenced by witnessing a sparsely attended gig the infamous Punk Rockers The Sex Pistols did in the city in June 1976),and the trials and tribulations surrounding the pop groups Joy Division and The Happy Mondays.

Director Michael Winterbottom has elected to film 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE in a breathless,hand-held,cinema verite style on digital video,packed with incidents that may or may not be true,plus Brechtian-style interjections by Wilson himself,reminding us that this is only a film we're watching;there are even scenes of UFO's of visions of God thrown in to make sure of this!

On one level,this is all extremely entertaining,funny and inventive.Winterbottom's style does not interfere with the substance too markedly(although that is a double meaning;the substance is not just referring to the script but the illegal chemicals used by virtually everyone on show in every sequence)and is apt for telling this kind of story,which he achieves with considerable aplomb.

Their are problems for the actors involved. Steve Coogan,Andy Serkis,Danny Cunningham,Paddy Considine,Ralf Little,John Simm,etc. are perfectly good in their roles,but because of the ferocious pace that Winterbottom has applied to the film,there are very few opportunities for little more than superficial characterisations,which end up in coming across little better that impersonation.Coogan,an extremely talented comic actor,is not quite as good a serious actor,and he occasionally seems a trifle uncomfortable in several scenes which would have worked better being played straight rather than for laughs.He doesn't remotely resemble the real Tony Wilson in appearance,and his performance sometimes veers into caricature and Alan Partridge-isms.The best performance comes from Sean Harris as the tragic Ian Curtis;this is the nearest we get to any sort of character with depth.But even before the suicide of Curtis (which is shown in a rather too jokey manner),we still don't find the proper reasons why he decided to take his own life;the new film CONTROL will hopefully tell the story of Ian Curtis in full detail.However,there are some amusing cameos from such Manchester musical icons as Mark E.Smith,Clint Boon and Mani,which come off rather well and enhance our interest and enjoyment of the film.

The music itself is great,but to truly tell the story of 'MADCHESTER' in greater detail,you need to mention other groups such as The Stone Roses,The Inspiral Carpets,James,The Charlatans,Northside and 808 State,who are totally anonymous here.Highly influential as Tony Wilson,Factory Records and The Hacienda were,there were many other important players involved to make it so unique and memorable.Perhaps the filmmakers couldn't obtain the copyright for these other great tunes.The recreation of the Hacienda itself is convincing (being filmed where it was actually located),as are the whimsical,if not farcical, reports from the local TV station (GRANADA TV) which was Wilson's day job in between running his record label and nightclub. The contrast from the early,near-empty Hacienda to the jam-packed glory of it's post-punk,rave peak is amusing,but more scenes here with the music and dancing may have given us a better feel of what made the 'MADCHESTER' era so special.The scenes recreated of the Hacienda at it's peak are very well done,but rather too fleeting.The references to the excessive drug intake there (particularly the Mondays) are thankfully not preachy but rather too ambivalent.An interview on the DVD extras with lead singer Shaun Ryder (bloated,prematurely aged and shaking) possibly should've also been included in the film as a warning to the excesses of the rock n'roll lifestyle.The Mondays had proved ability at creating quirky music,but away from the recording studio they seemed grossly inarticulate,repellent-minded oafs whose desire for temporary hedonism soon brought them crashing to earth,though they have made a comeback of sorts in recent years,bruised and battered and a trifle more sensible.

Wilson himself had no sort of business sense;Factory Records went bankrupt in 1992,and the Hacienda finally closed it's doors in 1997 after trouble with various gangs and police objections.Tony Wilson himself sadly died on 10 August 2007 after a battle with kidney cancer aged only 57.He has been much mourned here in the North West of England,particularly around Manchester,a city and people that he loved and stuck with through the bad times,until it briefly became,around 1989-1991,the musical centre of the world.That's what Tony himself wanted everybody to think,with him as the pivotal figure.These statements are perhaps not entirely true,but 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE is generally a fitting epitaph to a true musical visionary,hating the monetary driven London-based music industry,and bucking the trend by being more interested in producing music than making money.Hopefully in the near future,someone may produce a more in depth documentary look at Tony Wilson and 'MADCHESTER',a period I will always recall with fondness as I was attending college at the time,around Manchester.That may be an even more fitting epitaph.

RATING:7 out of 10.
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Filming the legend, perhaps not the truth.
ProperCharlie15 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The story of Factory Records is one I lived through by reading the UK music press whilst growing up in the 80's and 90's. I read about the parties, the drugs, the fights, the splits and the deaths. The people were larger than life caricatures, in a time before 'celebrity' had reached the nadir it has plumbed today. The best soap opera set in Manchester... What I read were legends, the truth hidden behind the ink. Having watched it brought to life, I'm still not certain what really happened. As Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson quotes in the film 'if I have the choice between the truth and the legend, print the legend'. Here the legend has been filmed.

And largely, they've played if for laughs. The real-life Tony Wilson is someone is often laughed at true, but when he speaks there's a hard edge, a confidence and edge, maybe even a whiff of intellectual brutishness, that Steve Coogan's portrayal doesn't have. The Tony Wilson in the film reminds me most of other Steve Coogan roles such as Alan Partridge. Unfortunate that the central role is lacking, as all the many other roles revolving round this centre of levity are wonderful. Most especially good are Andy Serkis as Martin Hannett and Sean Harris as Ian Curtis.

This film's brilliance is in showing the life of a large, amorphous group of people brought together for the purpose of making music. There is an ill-defined boundary round the edge of Factory Record through which people slip quietly. From within, all is energy and life. Relationships fizzing off one another bringing tragedy and comedy, art and manure in equal measure. Lives lived brightly with a heart that still beats today, even though the body has been scattered to the major labels around the world. This thing really did exist, here is the testament.

Help, I'm beginning to sound like Tony Wilson.

There are other successes and failures. The Hacienda is resurrected to the smallest detail. The claim to show the real Manchester of the time rings hollow. This maybe their Manchester, but it isn't the real one. The in-flight narrative by Coogan as Wilson is simple, yet doesn't work. The cameos by many of the 'real' people is great if you know who they are. If you don't 'get' Factory, you'll probably not 'get' this film.

As an attempt to bottle the Factory spirit, this is a roaring success and for that it gets high marks. This is not the real story, something that would make for a great documentary all of its own. One for re-living the legends rather than looking at them critically.
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One Word - Boredom. Sick Boredom
denis88821 September 2013
I was told it had to be a good movie. I nearly forced myself to watch it till the end, and yet, I skipped some moments due to one and relentless feature of this awful film - boredom. This is probably The worst movie I ever saw in many years. Everything seems to be wrong here. The casting is wrong, as actors seem to be only delivering their cues obviously lacking soul and gusto. The light - this sick sepia tone and frequent colored glitches really make dizzy and vomiting. The plot is a meandering endless talk of the main hero, not interesting in a split second. Even the music - nay, it has no cohesion here, and only Wrote For Luck by Happy Mondays is OK. The film was supposed to be about bands? Nay, I saw no real bands - just a mish-mash of some trite clichés, awful concert cues, millions of 4-letter invectives and silly sex scenes. The Factory records? It never was depicted nice, too. Just a scanty account of some dialogs, shaky camera fights, more bad words and more booze. Well, I would not like to be in such Britain as in the film. I trued as hard as I could to follow. Hopeless. Meaningless trash, coarse language, endless talks, blurred camera work, very hazy plot and very slow development. Just bad. Skip it
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The new champion!
HotPot9 April 2002
Try as I might, I couldn't think of a single movie to beat this one, and believe me, there's very little else to do during 24 Hour Party People. It is quite comfortably the worst movie I have ever seen! I don't know how long it was, but it seemed to go on forever. It appears that the writer thought you could get away with what boils down to no plot if you distract people with lots of scenes of people dancing to good music - and perhaps he is right, but there was no good music in this film whatsoever. There should be a warning saying only to watch it if you don't mind having the Sex Pistols shout at you for long periods. None of the characters was likable, which is concerning since it is apparently based upon a real story, and I could find nothing interesting that made me want to carry on watching. The absence of humour was covered with excessive and pointless swearing, as if that by itself was funny, including the highest use of the 'C' word of any film I've seen. I don't believe I've ever seen so many people leave during the film: some after about 20 minutes (by which time I was well ready to leave, but thought I would give it a chance), and even some after about an hour (by which time I was considering suicide). If you like punk music, by all means see the film - it'll probably mean more to you than it did to me. If not, and you have a sense of humour that doesn't include killing pigeons, I really wouldn't bother. This movie makes Bowfinger look like an exciting, original, and funny movie. (Yeah, I didn't like that either, but for very different reasons - at least I didn't want to die whilst watching it.)
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