24 Hour Party People

Dir: Michael Winterbottom
Starring: Steve Coogan, Paddy Considine, Danny Cunningham, Sean Harris

The rise and fall of Factory Records, and its head honcho Tony Wilson, is an epic story of excess to almost Spinal Tap proportions - except that it's true. Or, rather, "true", quotes used advisedly. It cheerily admits to playing fast and loose with the facts: early on, Wilson (Coogan) catches his wife with Buzzcock Howard Devoto in a bathroom stall. However, this is no documentary: the real Devoto, washing his hands nearby, says his recollections differ markedly. It covers events from 1976, when the Sex Pistols played to 40-odd people in Manchester, through the death of Ian Curtis (Harris), the rise of the Happy Mondays, to the closure of the Hacienda nightclub and the end of Factory in a sea of debt.

This reliance on "facts" inevitably means a lot of it is suspect, and the bits that work best are largely those where little or no attempt at depicting reality is made. For example, the scene where a mad record producer (played by Andy Serkis - without CGI!) insists on having the drum kit dismantled and rebuilt on the roof. Whether this ever happened or not is irrelevant - it's very funny, regardless. As played by Coogan, Wilson comes over as a living example of that cliche about the line between madness and genius. He talks to God (who looks just like him), runs his record label without contracts, and gives the Mondays 200,000 quid to make a CD in Barbados, which they promptly spend on drugs. Lots of drugs. It's sporadic, chaotic and makes me glad to have left Britain, yet the raw energy and enthusiasm still get to shine through, despite the frenzied camerawork and scripting.


Confessions of a *very* Dangerous Mind
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