'24 Hour Party People: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Steve Coogan, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Tony Wilson, Paddy Considine, et al / Blu-ray / R / (2002) 2019 / MVD Visual)
Overview: In 1976, Tony Wilson sets up Factory Records and brings Manchester's music to the world.
This true story of the raucous anti-establishment explosion that revolutionized the music industry is miraculous one of the smartest, liveliest, most engaging and involving works you're likely to see this year (Premiere).
'24 Hour Party People: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] is out June 25th, 2019 via MVD Visual.
Blu-ray Verdict: It would be unfair to dismiss '24 Hour Party People' as a biographical look at Tony Wilson for it's so much more.
It's a celebration of music, of a lifestyle, of a bygone era. It also plays like a Greek tragedy, albeit substantially more fun, but there is no shortage of darkness and tragedy in the film.
The shifts in tone are particularly remarkable, as the film veers from its usual dry, sardonic tone into real pathos and examination of the dark side of almost any phenomenal success.
That said, I'm not completely nuts. I'm not going to claim that '24 Hour Party People' is a visual masterpiece, or a film which achieves more with its characters than most other accepted masterpieces of cinema when it comes to depth!
I'm not going to argue that it feels as complete an artistic achievement as one of the better films by a cinematic master. Wait, what am I talking about? Well, that's exactly what I'm going to argue.
For me, '24 Hour Party People' is as perfect as a film can get, not because it achieves the visual perfection of one of Kubrick's finer films, not because it marks a turning point in cinema history, but because it sets out to be exactly what it ends up being - a hilarious, darkly satirical and yet affectionate look at one of the biggest scenes in music history; some of the best bands, and the man behind it all, Tony Wilson.
A minor player in his own life story this is one of the most purely enjoyable films ever made.
It all unfolds with a sort of inspired madness. The very first scene shows the charismatic, arrogant, and somewhat self-important Tony Wilson hang-gliding for a television report, then turning to the camera after that's over with and saying "You're going to see a lot more of that sort of thing in the film. I don't want to say too much, don't want to spoil it. I'll just say one word: 'Icarus'. If you get it, great. If you don't, that's fine too. But you should probably read more."
It's not only a terrific line, indicative of the sort of dry wit much of the dialogue achieves, but also telling of what the film is going to be like. J.R. Jones of the Chicago Reader was one of the less infatuated major critics with the film, and labeled Coogan's Wilson a pedantic narrator; describing his story as having little narrative momentum of its own.
I like to think that's sort of the point and Wilson himself makes a point to mention in the film that it's not a film about him.
The highlight of the film, arguably even more than Frank Cottrell Boyce's screenplay, is Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson. As everyone reading this probably knows, Coogan based his famed Alan Partridge character on Tony Wilson's career as a television reporter, so he's really playing a variation on Alan Partridge here.
What's amazing about Coogan's performance is that he manages to draw even this Partridge fan into Tony Wilson's world so much that I didn't care about any similarity.
It's still a stunning comic performance, and excellent during the darker, more serious scenes in the film as well. I'd go as far as saying that it's one of the best male performances of the decade.
The rest of the cast is too large to go through one by one, but everyone is excellent here, some going for a sort of slightly altered impersonation of the real-life person they're playing, some creating their own version. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Audio Commentary with Steve Coogan and Producer Andrew Easton
Audio Commentary with Tony Wilson
"Manchester: The Movie" Featurette (SD 11:04)