08 décembre 2007

24 hour party people

Last night I had a good time for 3 reasons: I watched a movie, the cinema was such a nice place for moviegoers like I think I am; and third I had dinner with a friend in a rather unusual restaurant (that will be the subject of another post). But let's focus on the place first:

Its name is MK2 Bibliothèque, and it is located in the 13th district, near the modern Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Bibliothèque François Mitterrand). Inside, you obviously have cafés and restaurants ("chez Jules et Jim" for example...), but also a nice shop where you can find every dvd you have been madly looking for, that documentary you wanted to see but never managed to find it, or that movie by Georges Lautner to complete your collection. Plus the movie soundtracks and the books. I definitely have to come back and buy Raymond Depardon's "numéro zéro: naissance d'un journal"...
Then the movie. I watched Michael Winterbottom's "24 hour party people". There is an English movies festival now (you know, the Eurostar having a new train station in London -St Pancras, the train being faster than ever before to reach London from Paris, and all the ads about London being trendy now, etc...).
I like Winterbottom's movies. Actually, I enjoyed the only one I had seen before yesterday: "the Road to Guantanamo". Very realistic and interesting.
"24 hour party people" was great too: "the unbelievably true story of one man, one movement, the music and madness that was Manchester". It starts back in the 70's and goes through the 80's, in Manchester obviously, and tells the story of Tony Wilson, journalist, host of a show about indie music on the local TV station, who is also a huge fan of music. Through his eyes, we will witness the birth of famous bands like the Sex Pistols, Joy Division,Happy Mondays, New Order, etc. He will found his own label, "Factory Records", and open the Hacienda Club, that will soon embody the period when Manchester was the music capital of the world.

The review on IMDB says it all:
"The story really starts with an early Sex Pistols gig in Manchester, attended by only 42 people, most of whom went on to have an influence on the Manchester music scene of the next 10 years. Wilson was in the audience, together with members of the band who went on to form the brilliant post-punk pioneers Joy Division. The first part of the film is really focussed on them, their manager Rob Gretton ( played by Paddy Considine) and their producer Martin Hannett (another superb cameo by Andy Serkis). Joy Division's lead singer, Ian Curtis, is portrayed so accurately by Sean Harris that it's positively eerie, and the scenes of the band playing in rundown venues seem remarkably true to life and capture effectively the rawness and intensity of their live performances. The film also deals, rather insensitively, with the death of Curtis, who's feet we see swinging after he has strung himself up on a rope in his house.
From then on, the story continues with Joy Division's reincarnation as New Order and the building of the Hacienda nightclub, and the sometimes disastrous business decisions made by Wilson and Factory. When New Order released Blue Monday, the record sleeve was so expensive to produce they lost money on every copy sold. The single went on to become the biggest-selling 12' of all time, paradoxically crippling Factory in the process. The first nights at the Hacienda were also calamitous, with bands playing in front of single-figure audiences. Eventually however, the druggy indie dance kings Happy Mondays arrived on the scene, and acid house was born. Suddenly the Hacienda was the place to be and the Madchester rave scene became famous all over the world. The scenes of drugs-and-sex-excess on the Monday's tour bus and the re-creation of the Hacienda club nights are superbly portrayed.
The final part of the film tells how gang violence led to the closure of the club and the drug-riddled misadventures of the Mondays, especially their singer Shaun Ryder, led to their downfall and had severe financial implications for Factory Records. Eventually, Factory was sold to another label (who were perturbed to find Wilson had not signed any contracts with any of the Factory bands, effectively giving the artists total creative freedom).
"24 Hour Party People" is a real roller coaster ride. There are some brilliant acting performances, punctuated by cameos from real members of the Manchester music scene (such as Howard Devoto and Mark E. Smith). The merging of legend and reality may make it difficult for people unfamiliar with events to work out what actually happened. But this is no accurate, austere documentary, but a touching, sometimes surreal, and often very, very funny, anarchic portrayal of a time and a place and it's music. Oh, and of course, the soundtrack is fantastic".

MK2 Bibliothèque: 128/162 av. de France (13e) - Métro : Quai de la gare (ligne 6), ou Bibliothèque (ligne 14)

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