24 Hour Party People

Directed by Michael Winterbottom
Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Screened at FACT (1st December 2009)

Reviewed by John Owen

A screening of 24 Hour Party People was shown at the FACT with the writer and director Frank Cottrell Boyce in attendance for a Q&A.

But first the skinny on the director and what he did for the research on the film from his own impartial lips: nought - he was no expert and felt as a director stay fresh don’t listen to other people's ideas stick with your own right or wrong.

The film is largely a biopic of the late great Tony Wilson as well as chronicling the rise and development of the music scene in northern Britain and with a cold eye to the culture surrounding it, the Liverpool Beatles' story is overdone. To see a fresh perspective from the other side or the Manc's point of view was a necessary enema for the cultural clichés written by journalista on the make.

Fighting the economic trend with bland stupidities and a degree from Cambridge in his repertoire, Steve Coogan's face to camera style and mode reminiscent of his best TV comedy work encapsulates the man, the myth, the music and the Manchester that was the hub and cradle of music civilisation. “I discovered punk” he declares, and he means it, showing the Sex Pistols on his early 'What’s On' programme he helmed for Granada.

With the rise of joy Division and the bleak unrelenting haunting sounds of Ian Curtis driving the group to superstardom, and comedians Skinner and Baddiel footy anthem fame, the downside is observed and caricatured by the likes of the Happy Mondays and their total piss-taking by the band out of Wilson with his no contract philosophy as they are permanently high, stoned, bombed out their skulls on smack, charlie, as well as drinks and the odd joint. The impetuousness of youth and the synthesizing of the sound of the E generation is the place to be, developing from Factory Records outwards: the Hacienda, to dance and party your night and weekend away.

Frank was an affable after show talker, with the questions from David Knopov stimulating and inviting the audience to comment on the film. He answered politely on the technicalities and mentioned the cost of film production dropping, such as his first endeavour 'Butterfly Kiss' costing half a million. This has all been scaled down by cheaper technologies in the film industry. Overall he was very honest and candid as to why he’d not done the Eric’s nightclub: “I'll leave that to someone else better qualified.”

A very warm and enjoyable night was had by all. I’d avoided the cold night air of démodé mode and argy bargy meetings to seek sanctuary in the luxury that is the FACT bistro on the first floor alright for some innit. Awaiting execution orders from the cultural commissar to be dispatched to the Eastern Front north of Garston cultural village arrivederci.

The event was part of Clapperboard Youth Project. And the main feature was preceded by an anti-gun crime short made by young people themselves. The funds will go to this very worthy cause.

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