I've been a little under the weather, but I promise to continue with regular posts soon. In the meantime, Screen Slate is curating a very interesting series called “This is MINIDV” with an eclectic line up of films shot in a hybrid of 35mm and digital. You might remember the transition in the late 1990's through roughly 2003 when photographers and filmmakers were standing on the precipice of digital. Now it's hard to imagine how anyone wondered if the transition to digital would become the standard or just a fad. Yes, as Screen Slate has stated, many filmmakers refer to this era as "the death of cinema." I know this conversation all too well. The "cinema is dead" conversation is one I have at least every week with someone from my Mondo Culto meet-up group. In spite of the melancholy debate about exactly when, how, and if cinema is dead, the lineup of this series well worth viewing.
Last Saturday night I ventured out to see 24 Hour Party People featured in Screen Slate's series at Anthology Film Archives. I've always loved this film, and only ever seen it on DVD. 24 Hour Party People is up there with the best music biopics of all time. Hilarious, joyous, and still socially relevant, this is possibly Steve Coogan's best performance. As his character — constantly breaking the fourth wall — says, this isn't a movie about him, but about the Manchester music scene and the birth of Rave culture. That statement is both true and untrue. It's Coogan's performance, his comic timing and believability as TV presenter Tony Wilson, which makes this film. Without a great Tony Wilson, the movie would be an utter failure. It was Wilson that founded Factory Records and gave complete creative freedom to bands like Joy Division and post Joy Division's New Order, The Happy Mondays, and Durruti Column. Without him, such bands might never have found an audience and Manchester might never have exploded with a music scene that has it’s place in the history books. Admittedly, the film is based in fact, but mixed with urban legend and the imagination of the screenwriter.
"The movie works so well because it evokes genuine, not manufactured, nostalgia. It records a time when the inmates ran the asylum — when music lovers got away with murder. It loves its characters. It understands what the Sex Pistols started and what the 1990s destroyed. Tony Wilson goes to see the Pistols and sees before him a delirious opportunity to —to what? Well, obviously, to live in one of the most important times in human history and to make your mark on it by going down in glorious flames."
Rather than lament the questionable “death of cinema,” Wilson might have called this film series The Last Supper of 35mm — at least in terms of the predominant medium though which we now see films. So what better way to go than to celebrate like it's the last night at the Hacienda? Enough talk. Stop reading this and get your ticket for the only other screening of this gem (It's barely available on DVD anymore. Someone please distribute it again in America!) See it Saturday, August 19, 9:15pm, at Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Saturday August 19, 9:15pm at Anthology Film Archives in New York City.
(Below) This fab British actor featured in 24 Hour Party People had a breakthrough role on The Walking Dead. Can anyone guess the actor or the role?