‘I’m a minor player in my own life story’ – Tony Wilson
As Steve Coogan’s Tony Wilson states in the film ‘This is a film about the music’ (Primarily Joy Division/New Order and the Happy Mondays) but it is told from Wilson’s point of view.
Coogan plays Wilson as a sort of Partridge lite but it is still a dominant performance. The cream of the crop of British comedy talent at the time are all lurking around somewhere with John Thomson, Peter Kay, Simon Pegg, Rob Brydon and Ralf Little lending support as well as Paddy Considine, an absolutely hilarious Andy Serkis as madcap producer Martin Hannett and a perfectly cast John Simm as Bernard Sumner. On a side note, when asked about the film Bernard Sumner commented ‘A film about the biggest cunt in Manchester, played by the second biggest cunt in Manchester’.
The first half of 24 Hour Party People can hold it’s head up high with any biopic, musical or otherwise, as it focuses on the rise and tragic fall of Joy Division and the beginnings of Factory Records. The second half, touching on the opening of the Hacienda nightclub and the emergence of The Happy Mondays is not quite as compelling but always funny and visually interesting.
24 Hour Party People is a film full of charm and laugh out loud humour throughout, plus the soundtrack is predictably wonderful and controversial director Michael Winterbottom has a visual flair that drives the story. If you are interested in the 80’s/90’s Madchester scene then 24HPP is essential viewing.
A woman who had her child taken from her by the Catholic church and a fading journalist team up to tell her story.
The success of Philomena is down to Steve Coogan as smart alec journalist Martin Sixsmith and especially Judi Dench as the title character. Coogan has finally broken free of Partridge to become a serious dramatic actor. It will be interesting to see whether Philomena is a one off or the start of a new chapter for Coogan.
We all know of Dame Judi’s reputation as a national institution but it is a testament to her unique talent that she can still surprise with a performance like this at the age of 79. She simply IS Philomena. To bring such humour and personality whilst still packing such an emotional wallop is no mean feat and Dame Judi wholly deserves her Oscar nod for best leading actress.
Director Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, The Queen) has told a simple story, free from gimmicks and mostly resisting unnecessary sentiment, and told it very well.