5 of 24 people found the following review helpful
OK film of the Factory story...,
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This review is from: 24 Hour Party People [VHS]  (VHS Tape)
THis is a strange film, essentially being the Factory story, or more disturbingly a biopic of Tony Wilson- though Wilson's complementary book should also be consulted. My big problem is the film being essentially a star vehicle for Steve Coogan, who displays his limitations by playing Alan Partridge playing Tony Wilson.
The film is episodic and slightly unbalanced- though it does contain some great British talent (John Thomson, Paddy Constatine, Peter Kaye) and some nice postmodern cameos (Mark E Smith, Howard Devoto, Paul Ryder). There is a problem with the approach to several parts: the Ian Curtis element is not satisfying enough. They just occur, and we don't get the interesting tales found in the Heart&Soul liner notes or Touching from a Distance- I would have liked to have seen Curtis's sense of humour (the turd thing) which would have countered the po-faced myth perpertuated by an music critic referred to in Wilson's book. The whole suicide bit to Stroszek is not quite correct, the scene it's cut too is not that long & the suicide note left appeared to be written after seeing Herzog's classic. (As for the stupid Town Cryer sequence!- not in the league of some of the dry comments made about IC's shoes/the tragedy that the remaining members of New Order have made). And the use of JD studio tracks for the live versions makes this film more like Oliver Stone's The Doors- pity as there is a wealth of JD live material to choose from...
New Order are inexplicably sidelined (we get an embryo version of Blue Monday), we move from the opening of the Hacienda, sidelining The Smiths & James, to the over-rated guff of Happy Mondays (while ignoring Stone Roses)- still the club scenes are excellent, up there with those in films like Go and Clubbed to Death (the camerawork by Robbie Muller, who has worked with Wim Wenders & Jim Jarmusch is excellent). The film becomes less when focused on the empty lad myth of Ryder et al (I saw the legendary gig at Wembley Arena, where the drum/bass myth Wilson goes on about was coined: it was f*cking terrible)- though we do get a more human Wilson, which is interesting. Then we have the implosion of Factory, which is kind of sad cos it was the epitome of punk rock and did appear to be founded on Sid V's opinion of the man on the street (and the sleeves etc were as great as the records, frequently greater...).
So, 24 Hour Party People is a fun post-modern take on history, but hardly a work of genius- unlike the records/artists & Situationist (!) attitude behind the most interesting British record label of all time. I'd have liked to have seen the real people (new order, mondays etc) appearing in interviews in the style of Reds/Zelig, which would have made the more ridiculous bits of the film more acceptable. Oh and the vision of Wilson as God by Wilson and the comments on The Smiths/Mick Hucknall are genius & I'm living the Durutti Column comeback already!
Perhaps I'm just too close to the subject matter, having listened to Factory stuff for years- 24 Hour Party People is worth watching, but it didn't blow me away like it could have (or films like Almost Famous did). Still, could be worse- could be Sid & Nancy. I await an adaptation of Julian Cope's memoirs, anyway...