I had the opportunity to see an advance screening of 24 Hour Party People, the story documenting the rise of the Manchester music scene, Factory Records, the Hacienda and Tony Wilson in particular, thanks to my boy Aidin Vaziri at the San Francisco Chronicle. The movie, which is primarily based on true events, chronicles the life of Wilson from his early in his time at Granada, a Manchester TV station. The story is mainly told through the music, versus being a straight biopic of Wilson's life. A Sex Pistols gig in Manchester, while only drawing about 40 people, is the impetus of the explosion in the scene, as members of Buzzcocks, Stiff Kittens/Joy Division, key producer Martin Hannett, Wilson himself and other key movers and shakers in the scene-to-be are all present.
The film primarily chronicles the events surround the formation of Factory Records, and the lives of three of the biggest bands on the label: Joy Division, New Order, and Happy Mondays. The rise of the bands, the death of Ian Curtis and the explosion of the Madchester scene that centered at the Hacienda, the club owned by Factory, are told in depth and the film's documentary-like-feel is both entertaining and engaging. Many musicians make cameos in different roles, including Mani of The Stone Roses, Paul Ryder of Happy Mondays, Howard DeVoto of Buzzcocks and Clint Boon of Inspiral Carpets. While I had trouble discerning fact from fiction at some points, being a huge fan of all things Manchester, from The Smiths to The Stone Roses to Oasis to Manchester United, I found this film enjoyable, although a bit confusing in parts.