Sunday, May 04, 2003

I've watched two good movies lately - 24 Hour Party People and 25th Hour. Other than the numbers and reference to time, these two movies have nothing in common.

Anyway, without further ado, let me launch into my customary critique. 24 Hour Party People, about the rise and fall of Tony Wilson's Factory Records in Manchester, was a pretty decent observation on punk music and rave culture in the UK. Centred around Tony Wilson, apparently the last of the music entrepreneurs, being someone who doesn't believe in tying a musician down with the need to make money-making records, and allowing them full creative liberties, the film also touches on the lives of Ian Curtis (lead singer of Joy Division who committed suicide in 1980) and Shaun Ryder (lead singer of Happy Mondays). The documentary-film is done nicely, at times feeling exactly like a film, and at other times - when Tony speaks directly to the audience - exactly like a documentary. The soundtrack is spot on, with the music coming on at just the right moments. The film also captures the birth of rave culture, the first time when clubbers went clubbing to listen to the DJ, the medium of the music, rather than the creators or the producers of the music itself. Wilson's Hacienda club in Manchester looked brilliant, exactly like how I'd imagine a UK superclub to look like and while watching the film, I started to feel really bad that I don't buy that many drinks when I go clubbing as selling drinks is how clubs make money. Overall, the show was funny and in a way, sort of educational.

25th Hour, on the other hand, was gripping and touching at times. The film chronicles the Monty Brogan's last 24 hours in New York before beginning his seven-year prison sentence for drug-dealing. As a movie directed by Spike Lee, my friend didn't think it was a movie suitable for females, but I watched it anyway. For one thing, I really do like Edward Norton's acting. He was brilliant in Fight Club and American History X, so I didn't think he'd let me down here, and indeed, the five minute angry rant that he directs at every person in New York is fascinating. The emotions in his voice are so powerful that you don't even have to watch the screen in order to get caught up by the scene. I felt so sad for him that he was going to prison that I found myself rooting for him to run and escape his sentence. At the same time, I was acutely aware that were he just another statistic, I'd be like, "Drug-dealing b*****d, he deserves to go to jail for ruining young lives!" I found the really American parts of the show a tad overdone. A review I read said that it was symbolism, showing how fragile America has become after the September 11 attacks by illustrating how powerless Monty became after his arrest and conviction. I didn't see that at all, and although the direct focus on the devasted World Trade Centre site unnerved me a little, I didn't find it relevant to the movie. Nevertheless, Norton's acting was spot on, and so was most of the editing. I'd like to read the novel now. Should make for interesting reading.

On another note, Anna Paquin's Mary D'Annunzio was really sexy in the film, with her smoky eyes and all. In the club scene, she looked especially hot, and made me wish (yet again) that I could carry that look off... and even better, that attitude - that whole "Get over here, I want you. I can make your world rock and you know it!" kind of attitude. Looking in the mirror... I don't think so. I wouldn't even dare wear the outfit she wears to school!

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