24 Hour Party People – 4 stars

24 Hour Party People.  Michael Winterbottom’s filmed time capsule sells itself as a rendering of the birth of the rave culture.  In fact, as the film’s protagonist – Manchester television personality Tony Wilson – constantly tells us in break away chats and insights made directly to the camera, the film is about at least a half dozen things, from Manchester itself, to the rave culture, to the birth of what I then called the British moany-boy bands (Joy Division, New Order) from punk, to “selling out”, to the comforts of being the next big thing.  The picture has been reviewed in the following manner: “if you liked New Order, you’ll . . . ” as if enjoying the music is intrinsic to enjoying the picture.  This is flat out wrong.  The film is sharp and funny, regardless of whether you dig the music at center.  With the constant wild Kurt Loderesque accolades to the bands (“genius” is bandied about more than on a single “Behind the Music”), Winterbottom is mocking the creation of mini-gods to fuel the gravy train.

24 Hour Party People is smartly filmed, sometimes gonzo, always electric, and all the performances – especially Steve Coogan’s Wilson (our self-interested cum true-believer-in-the-music guide) are grade A.

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