Right from the get-go, you can tell that Michael Winterbottom’s 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE — airing this weekend and all month long on Sundance Channel — is no ordinary biopic. It begins with Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan) addressing the camera as he narrates his life. Wilson was a British TV personality who was so taken with the emerging punk and post-punk scene in the 1970s and ’80s that he founded Factory Records, a Manchester-based label that brought the world such notorious bands as the Happy Mondays, Joy Division and New Order. This playful, inventive retelling of his tale intercuts between some of his TV stunts and the key moments of his career, all as he continues to speak directly to us; part of the film’s charm is that Coogan was himself a Wilson-like character at the time. (Already popular among Brits, he enjoyed a tremendous career surge after this role.)
The world of film is changing. For one thing, there’s not much actual film anymore. The future is digital; more and more, it’s streaming on our computers, too. Every week in FYIVOD, we survey the landscape online movies to bring you a snapshot of what’s available. This week, get ready for some crazy flashbacks as we explore the world of psychedelic movies.
THIS WEEK’S THEME: Psychedelia
Last year a show aired on British television called “The Trip,” starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, who survey the haute cuisine scene of Northern England. The six episode series ran a combined total of 180 minutes, footage that was then edited down to 107 minutes for the theatrical release of THE TRIP, making the story available to a worldwide audience not as intimately familiar with Coogan and Brydon as British viewers are – something Coogan attributes to the fact that he doesn’t work with directors, he works with auteurs. Of course, this is according to the Coogan playing the fictionalized, exaggerated version of himself, the unrepentant egomaniac audiences loved in TRISTRAM SHANDY, a shtick made popular stateside by Larry David in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and in the UK by Ricky Gervais in “Extras.” How true to self Coogan and Brydon’s performances really are is up for debate, but I hardly think it matters. We get as much pleasure from watching their quips and comebacks and theatrical indulgences as they evidently get in making them.