on 6 February 2003
The story of Factory Records & the Hacienda is a long and complex one, full of urban myths and legends, humour, tragedy and some of the best music ever made.
Inevitably, the film struggles to contain its vast subject matter and was apparently edited down from 3 hours. In the end, Michael Winterbottom has made a film which reflects the myth and the truth of Factory in equal measures. The film leaps wildly from hyper-realism (The Hacienda interior is re-created down to the last brick, even inviting back the original punters to re-create the atmosphere for one last time) to pure fantasy (Happy Mondays trip to Barbados is re-created as a scene from Robinson Crusoe).
The film features so many enigmatic characters, and several who deserve a bio-pic of their own. Shaun Ryder and the late Rob Gretton, Ian Curtis and Martin Hannett.
To narrow the scope, the film is “seen” through the eyes of Tony Wilson, although on the DVD commentary, Wilson points out that he has fought tooth and nail to have some scenes left out which he insists are entirely untrue. Bizarrely, Wilson still holds down a job as a respected newsreader on Granada TV despite the film depicting him romping with prostitutes and taking copious amounts of drugs. The film itself makes some playful contrasts between Wilson’s life as TV presenter, and that as director of a chaotic, anarchic record label and nightclub. We cut from Wilson living it up on the tour bus with Happy Mondays, to Wilson conducting a banal interview with a pensioner for local TV news.
Like Factory, the film is messy, inconsistent and bloody-minded. But like Factory, it looks great and the music is good. Coogan is great, if a little Partridge-esque as Wilson. Paddy Considine captures New Order’s late manager, Rob Gretton to perfection. There are funny little cameo appearances from everyone from Peter Kay to Howard Devoto, some wonderful period re-creations of 80s Manchester, and a few moments of genius.
Just to have a feature film on this subject is astonishing in itself.
And on the DVD, 8 hours of extras. Perhaps best is the commentary from Wilson himself, which is intelligent, funny and insightful. You also get a commentary from Coogan and the Director, short interviews with many of the people involved with Factory and the Manchester music scene, 24 clips from the cutting-room floor, trailers, a New Order video featuring John Simm. And on the second disc, Wilson conducts a fascinating interview Peter Saville, whose beautiful designs were such an integral part of Factory and influence the aesthetic of Manchester music, culture and clubland to this day. Also on the disc is a documentary about Michael Winterbottom and a video commentary from various associated persons such as New Order’s Peter Hook. This is a little bit hit & miss, as they really spend most of the film reminiscing about the Hacienda rather than commenting on the film itself. Its quite entertaining though, and it does feature the great Bruce Mitchell, drummer with Durutti Column and a man who wasn’t in the film despite the fact that he was present at every event featured. He even did the lighting for the Sex Pistols gig that opens the film.
All in all, a good value for money package. The extras really add to your enjoyment of the film, especially if you are unfamiliar with the context of the film and the whole Factory and Hacienda story.
on 19 February 2008
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.
24 Hour Party People is directed by Michael Winterbottom and written by Frank Cottrell Boyce. It stars Steve Coogan, Paddy Considine, Shirley Henderson and Andy Serkis.
Film charts the rise and fall of Tony Wilson's (Coogan) impact on the Manchester music scene from 1976-1992. Musically it encompasses the Punk Rock explosion, Post Punk, Madchester, the birth of Factory Records and The Haçienda Nightclub. Main bands featured as narrative threads are Joy Division and The Happy Mondays.
Print the legend.
There's nothing like it, in music based movies that is, 24 Hour Party People is a collage of styles and genres, part biography, part comedy drama, part rock mockumentary, part tragedy and part fantasy, with the latter a little galling to those in the know since the film often plays fast and loose with the truth. But this almost chaotic approach by Winterbottom is perfect for this most important and influential era of music. There is a bustling energy throughout the picture, a chic coolness coming out of the hand held digital camera, the music is excellence unbound, while it more often than not is great fun, even as dark passages flit in and out-making thumping emotional beats-there's a causticism involved. Wilson was a colourful impresario, and well worth the time afforded him here. The performances vary from good to great, with Coogan at the centre a pure delight as he not only acts out the part of Wilson, but also narrates and breaks the fourth wall to ensure viewers are in the know about the players and situations. While it's fun to play spot the cameo star as well.
Martin Hannett: Too Big For Death.
As a "big" fan of New Order I find the only thing that irks greatly with the film is the short amount of camera time and credence given to the band. The Joy Division years are covered greatly, and rightly so, but New Order's prominent impact on the era, and that on Factory Records and The Hacienda, is relegated to tiny visual snippets and snatches of narration. Someone in the producing department has failed to grasp that they were the most important band of the time in relation to Tony Wilson and The Hacienda years. The other to get short shrift is producer Martin Hannett, here expertly portrayed by Andy Serkis. Early in the piece Coogan's Wilson tells us that Martin Hannett is one of only two geniuses to feature in this story, yet we never get to know about it. It's right that Hannett's sad and tragic demise is followed from beginning to end, but where's the glory of his producing skills? Without him Joy Division and New Order would have been just good bands instead of "great" bands, this really needed to be pressed home to the unitiated.
C'est la vie, I'm sure there are many other fans of "movers" who were prominent around this time who feel they deserved narrative time. So we can't have it all eh? Top film regardless, fascinatingly constructed and with an astute handle on the time, it's essential viewing for British music fans. 9/10
on 23 July 2006
Top class hilarity with the daft mancs from down the road. Shaun Ryder making 3000 pigeons rain down over the crap below, what's wrong with that? He'd fed these pigeons bread laced with rat poison. He went down that same road without ever veering off, despite some close pals and relatives telling him to calm it a bit, and out came the Happy Mondays ; for which we are all (and if not should all be) eternally grateful. There's some problems with the film such as the late great genius that was Sir Ian of Curtis portrayed as hanging himself from the ceiling in front of the telly whereas his wife (who found him) says he was in the kitchen tied to a drawer and just sat down to die. I think I'll take her word over Anthony H Wilsons (Brilliantly portrayed by the best we've got - Steve Coogan). Look...... If you were there, or wished to have been there at the hacienda, or if you've owned records by the happy mondays, black grape, new order or joy division, this film is right up your street so buy it on amazon.
on 1 February 2003
As a Mancunian who was in mid-teens when Factory started and a fan of Joy Division at the time (and still am), I was a little sceptical of the film beforehand.
It seemed to gloss over Ian Curtis' death very quickly but I suppose the film is more about Factory's legacy than just Joy Division's. Personnaly I believe this event was the most significant in the time frame of the film but there was a lot to cover so I'm not complaining too much.
I'd heard a lot of comments about Steve Coogan's portrail of Tony Wilson and the apparent similarity with his Alan Partridge character. As someone who was dragged up watching Granada Reports and Tony Wilson's often eccentric reporting performances, I thought Steve's effort was fantastic. There were many moments in the film where I thought he had got T.W.'s character/mannerisms absolutely right.
Unfortunately, the drugs-rave-Happy Monday's scene passed me by at the time so that half of the film was not quite as relevant to me, but I remember very well the shooting incidents and controversy at the time. I was surprised that the Stone Roses barely rated a mention.
Overall I thought the film was a good effort, very funny in parts and the reminder of Ian's death had me wiping tears away.
on 2 May 2003
I believe when choosing a DVD these days, the film can disappoint and the DVD make up for its flaws (or vice versa). This is one film where I felt slightly disapponted on the first viewing, only to be uplifted and overjoyed by the DVD. It really is the whole story of Factory Records and Tony Wilson and any fan of either should buy it.
So should those who appreciate a critical appraisal of film-making. The DVD makes up with critical commentaries and extras that involve the real subjects themselves so that the film becomes an issue in itself. By listening to the commentary of Mr Wilson, you find out more amazing facts than the film which rather than overpowers it, enhances it and gives you an insight into both the film-makers minds and the protagonists.
New information can be pieced togther with the original cutting to make up a somewhat astounding story (I remember Tony Wilson on Granada Reports but had no idea of the links with this story).
If you thought the film was a bland comedy I understand, but if you make it through the extras on the DVD you will find a fascinating insight into a movement of music (in the eyes of the creator) and a passion for what people believe in.
Overall the DVD transforms a reasonable comedy into a very interesting documentary. There are loads of nuggets of trivia throughout. At one point Tony Wilson admits on the commentary that there was no last night of the Hacienda until this film was made. The set was so good that he considers the filming set-up to be the ultimate night. Not many DVDs give this kind of stuff away.
on 7 February 2003
Being a fan of the music and the scene, I waited patiently for this release and was not disappionted!
The characters were larger than life and played spot-on by the cast, even John the Postman was in it!! I thought Coogan's interpretation of Tony Wilson was good, although I couldn't help thinking of Alan Partridge!!
The story was not quite spot on though, as this is a film not a documentary then this is perfectly acceptable. However I was a bit annoyed that we didn't see more of New Order as they were what bankrolled Factory for all those glorious years after all.
Two things I would like to say to the makers of the film:
1. The soundtrack to the film is fantastic but surely there was enough music in the film to warrant a second soundtrack disc!
2. Please can we get the cast together again to make a sequel about New Order?
What do you say guys?
on 24 February 2007
For anyone who genuinely loves music this film is the Holy Grail. I was a student during the Madchester era and had grown up on New Order, Joy Division etc and this film reminds me of why I still love all the bands who feature. The script is hilarious, poignant and touching. It documents a fabulous piece of musical history in a genuinely affectionate way. It has become one of those films that I can't help quoting in the pub and the use of profanity in the film is as funny as it is realistic. A classic.
Michael Winterbottom's 2002 account of the Manchester music scene covering the (approx) period 1976 to 1997 (when the Hacienda club closed) makes for an entertaining, but slightly mixed, film. 24 Hour Party People stars, and is narrated by, Factory record and Hacienda club founder, Tony Wilson, brilliantly played by Steve Coogan (in, to date, easily his best big screen role).
For me, the film is divided into two distinct halves of very different quality. The first half of the film, focusing primarily on Wilson promoting the early punk music scene (with footage of the Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and The Banshees, etc) followed by the discovery of Joy Division, is (for me) far superior, both in terms of the music and comedy than the second half, which primarily features the Happy Mondays and the so-called Madchester scene. I found the film started to drag during the latter parts and feel that the film is probably 30 minutes too long.
The early parts of the film contain some hilarious set-pieces from Wilson's career as one of Granada TV's main news correspondents (including his attempts at hang-gliding and footage of a duck that had been trained to herd sheep!). In addition, it contains some brilliant scenes of early Joy Division performances, with the band being played by Sean Harris (Ian Curtis), John Simm (Bernard Sumner), Ralf Little (Peter Hook) and Tim Horrocks (Stephen Morris). One of these sequences is, for me, the highlight of the entire film. This is the first scene of Joy Division playing live, playing the song Digital, with Sean Harris (one of the current top acting talents in Britain) being even more convincing in the Ian Curtis role than Sam Riley was in the film Control.
The first half of the film also features two of the standout performances of the film. Andy Serkis puts in a marvellous turn as Joy Division's manic record producer Martin Hannett - with his highlight scene being when he insists in the recording studio that Stephen Morris dismantle his drum kit because he can hear a rattle in it! Paddy Considine is similarly excellent as Joy Division's Manchester City-supporting manager Rob Gretton - having had some personal contact with Gretton at Joy Division gigs I can certify a very close likeness between the two!
The film also features 'guest appearances' from some of the prominent music figures of the period, including Mark E Smith, Howard Devoto, Paul Ryder, Vini Reilly and Gary 'Mani' Mounfield. Finally, at the end of the film, Tony Wilson himself also appears as the director of the TV programme Wheel of Fortune.
Overall, definitely a film worth seeing if you are interested in the music of the time.
on 6 September 2003
Fantastic portrayal of the manchester music scene, through to the establishment of Factory Records and the building of the legendary Hacienda. Funny, informative and touching. BUT buy the book too as that has some bits that really should have been in the film