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Set in ‘70s Manchester, British comedian Steve Coogan plays real-life television presenter Tony Wilson. In a small hall, Wilson is one of the forty-two people who were present during the first Manchester gig of the Sex Pistols. As Wilson puts is, there are only two people who decide what goes on television, and both of them hate punk music, making his show one of the only places to catch it. Inspired by the remarkable performance of the Pistols, Wilson opens the Hacienda Nightclub and founds Factory Records. The film pretty much goes on to tell the story of the Manchester music scene up until 1992.

24 Hour Party People
The film has been mistaken by many to be a documentary. Although there is a particular realism to the events, it is not a documentary as such, nor really a mockumentary. The film mostly plays outs like any other, only to have Wilson stop for a moment and talk to the audience to fill them in on where the film is going, who everyone is, and of course his thoughts in general. This works very well as it really gives a true sense of storytelling, and Coogan delivers a spot on performance in any situation. A highlight pause is Wilson’s casual line to the audience “later on he will try to kill me.”

Anyway, as said it is not really a documentary, rather it has a feel that is similar to a reality television show. The film is shot almost like the characters are just living and a camera crew simply follows them around. Almost like a type of Truman Show, Wilson’s narration makes it seem like he is the only one who is aware of the filming. Considering this is a true story, nothing could be more effective, as the naturalistic feel really pulls you in and makes you believe that this could all be real footage. Some surreal effects are used occasionally, in particular the very black ‘poison pigeon’ scene. But it all works for the best.

Although the film is well shot and delivers a great performance from its lead, it doesn’t mean that just anyone can watch this movie. Although the film can get by on it’s own with its unique style as well as its frequent batches of humour and wit, there is that one big question: do you have to be into British punk to enjoy this movie? There is no clear answer however. Although those with a real knowledge of the bands and music this film features will no doubt love this, those with no knowledge will have mixed feelings about this. They may enjoy the characters, but the dedication they show for the music may be lost on some viewers (bands that feature in the film include the Sex Pistols, New Order, The Happy Mondays and Joy Davison).

24 Hour Party People
If you are old enough to remember the period in which the film is set and were even really into the punk music scene, this film will be a blast for you. It will bring back memories and old favourite songs you have long forgotten. If the music is new to you, don’t worry, you should still find plenty to love here as the music influence is heavy, it is not all the film relies on. The comedic timing is perfect and Coogan is brilliant and the true-to-life feel will keep you entertained. You will also learn a thing or two. Some viewers may even be compelled to lash out and buy the soundtrack. No doubt about it, 24 Hour Party People is a winner on many levels.

The film plays host to a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The opening sequence is very dirty with all sorts of grain and artefact issues, but they die down for the most part of the film. The actual filmed stuff is for the most part pretty crisp with well saturated colours, good skin tones, with show detail being perhaps a little too dark. However, some of the concert footage is just a dirty as the opening scene. This is not surprising however given the age of some of the footage. Overall, it’s totally decent.

24 Hour Party People
Here we have a Dolby Digital 5.1 track in English, as well as a 2.0 Stereo track. There is also a duo of commentaries presented in Dolby 2.0. The 5.1 track is rather impressive considering the style of the movie. The majority of the sound comes from the front speakers, but in the snippets of concert footage, the surrounds are very well used to deploy a real concert hall feel with crowd noises and music backup. The sub also does well to emphasise the concert feel with some nice musical support, but won’t have your floors shaking. Everything else here is pretty good too. Dialogue is mostly clear if you can decipher the thick accents and there are no synch problems.  This track surpassed expectations famously.

Wow! Where do we start? This is a two-disc package loaded with stuff. On disc one there are two commentaries. The first is from Start Steve Coogan and producer Andrew Eaton (who knows why director Michael Winterbottom is missing) and the second is from the real Tony Wilson himself. Although listening to two Commentaries on a solid two-hour movie is a big task, both are funny and informative. The Wilson commentary is really worth a listen is you only want one however as it really shows how smart and funny (and also very direct) the man really is.

Finishing the disc are total of twenty-six deleted scenes adding over thirty minutes of extra stuff. We get a New Order music video, a subtitle track which provides al sorts on info and trivia, and a few interviews. The trailer for the film is also included.

24 Hour Party People
Disc two is where a whole lot of other goods are stored. We actually get the film again, only in a small window as we see a video commentary with members of various bands of the time. This feature is entitled ‘From the Factory Floor.’ Members include Peter Hook from New Order, Rowetta from The Happy Mondays and Martin Moscrop from A Certain Ratio. If you want a fresh perspective on the film and well as a bit of a reality comparison, check this out.

The ‘Michael Winterbottom Profile’ is effectively a behind-the-scenes look. The director gives us some of his thoughts as well as some thoughts of other key players and shows us some really nice making-of stuff. At twenty minutes, it’s a good watch. There is also the ‘Peter Saville Gallery’ in which Wilson talks about several album covers for several events and artists. It’ long so unless you are a fan, you may want to just have a quick look to get the gist of it.

Next up are a few less than five minutes featurettes. ‘The Real Tony Wilson’ contains interviews with Wilson and others and focuses mainly on Wilson’s importance in the music industry.  ‘Playing People Who Are Still Alive’ has quick interviews with actors who played people still living. This is interesting, but only four minutes. Then there is ‘Genesis of 24 Hour Party People’ which is basically just another making-of featurette. All these are good just for a good quick look at the film and its backgrounds.

There are two written features. First up is the Shaun Ryder ‘Scooter Girl’ film clip. This is a quick essay which discusses the album and has a link to view a music video. Next there is ‘24 Hour Party People - the Book’ which s pretty much just a plug for Tony Wilson’s book which is a history of Factory Records.

Closing the deal there are eleven quickie interviews with Factory bands and a collection of trailers for other releases.

24 Hour Party People
As you can see, this disc goes into almost every detail. It explores production, marketing and history so you can get a full knowledge as to the film and its origins. It’s great to see the real Tony Wilson so involved in the DVD. As far as extras go, this is a stand-out for true story and art-house films.

24 Hour Pary People is a worthwhile art-house film that will hold the interest of anyone who sees it. Don’t be put off by its musical origins, just go in with an open mind and you will really find lots to like. The film has its own little style and is very funny with Steve Coogan proving his worth as an actor. The DVD release has really had lots of hard work put into it with a decent video transfer and a surprising audio track. More impressive is the extensive collection of extras, which will keep people going for hours. This is a really good DVD release.