Here's yet another great movie that I saw just a little while ago for the first time and wondered how it was possible I hadn't seen it yet: Michael Winterbottom's 2002 24-Hour Party People. Brilliant! It's the funny and true story of how bands like The Happy Mondays, A Certain Ratio, and Joy Division (and then later New Order) came to be in the crazy drug- and sex-addled 1980s Manchester, UK.
The very talented Steve Coogan, as Tony Wilson.
Taking the lead is the brilliant Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson, a journalist-cum-music-producer who stakes everything to promote, record, and exhibit this revolutionary music he believes in.Coogan's wry style is a pleasure to watch as he interacts both with (musically) historical characters, as well as when he breaks the forth wall and addresses the audience directly. Coogan, and actually a few other people, turn to the camera and speak about what is happening in the film, or what to expect in the future, and it works really well. It can be a risky proposition sometimes because it obviously can take the audience out of the diegesis of the film, but here it enhances the whole experience.
This film is a love-letter to a very flawed time and place, with some very flawed characters, but you can't deny that it must have been a very exciting time for musicians. Wilson's idealistic dedication to the music, to promoting all these bands is truly amazing. If you enjoy music by Joy Division et al, or are a fan of Steve Coogan, this is essential viewing. Even if you aren't, it is definitely a fun romp through the late 70s and into the 80s of a very distinct time in pop culture history and is littered with great moments. It also contains a great blend of real archival footage mixed with stuff filmed for the movie, as well as some of the real people from this time period in cameos and other small roles normally reserved for extras. Highly recommended. For a taste, watch this great little trailer: