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A shocking but often inspiring story,
This review is from: 24 Hour Party People - Single Disc Edition  [DVD] (DVD)
This tells the story of Factory records, the record label started in the late 1970's by the enterprising Tony Wilson, whose death has recently reverberated through the music business. In this film, Tony is played by Steve Coogan, who manages to capture some of Wilson's Cambridge arrogance, yet also much of his childlike enthusiasm for music and less than perfect money-management skills.
Wanting to put Manchester on the musical map seemed to be Tony Wilson's main motivation right from the off, and shortly after the formation of factory records, signing various bands. Some of them aren't so well recognised today, such as 'A Certain Ratio', but some of them, such as 'Joy Division', went on to become one of the most influential bands of the post-punk era. A lot of this was down to the eccentric producer Martin Hannett, who worked in such a fearlessly authentic way that Joy Division's debut 'Unknown Pleasures', went on to become one of the most unique, distinctive and authentic records of all time. Which is just as well considering how difficult to please Hannett was - even going so far as to make Joy Division drummer Stephen Morris do his drumming on the roof.
The premise of Factory Records was simple: it was all about art, rather than profits. In this sense, Tony Wilson was a spectacularly inept businessman, but his commitment to music, nurturing new talent, and focusing on artistic output was unwavering.
After the tragic suicide of Ian Curtis in 1980, Wilson's next venture was 'The Hacienda', an ultra-modern nightclub in which Wilson got a whole host of musical acts from all corner of the music business to perform. These included The Smiths, Happy Mondays and various others.
It is at this point in the film that a lot of heavy drug use begins to occur, when Wilson takes the morally bankrupt Happy Mondays under his wing. Despite being warned against this, he is convinced that the Monday's lead singer Shaun Ryder is a genius. The Monday's go on to blow millions of pounds of drugs and a holiday in Barbados, nearly bringing Factory Records to it's knees on several occasions.
This film is superbly directed and skilfully acted. It features a whole host of great Manchester-based actors, all of whom add a certain Mancunian authenticity to the film. All in all, it beautifully explores the trials and tribulations of Tony Wilson, plus the failures and successes of his often naive business ventures, all of which were designed to make Manchester the centre of the music business. For many years, they succeeded.