“24 Hour Party People” chronicles the punk rock scene in Manchester, England during the 70s and 80s. The charismatic Steve Coogan stars as Tony Wilson, a cheeky television host who lets us know upfront that he’ll be our guide through the colorful story. It begins when Wilson goes to see the Sex Pistols at a club one night in 1976, and disturbed by the small turnout, makes it his mission to plug them on television. That plants the seeds for an even grander enterprise as he launches Factory Records, an artist-friendly label that’s out to buck the big boys in London and rewrite music history, at a time when England itself is undergoing a series of social upheavals. As Wilson immerses himself in a burgeoning world of sex, drugs and rock and roll his dreams get bigger—and so do his delusions. Let me assure you, you don’t have to be a fan of vintage punk rock to enjoy this picture.
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Most sequels are a waste of time—and then there’s “Before Sunset“. In 1995, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy starred in a movie for filmmaker Richard Linklater called “Before Sunrise”, about two young people who chance to meet in Europe, just as he’s about to return to America, and spend an entire night talking. Nine years later the three principals collaborated on a followup called “Before Sunset” that’s even better. The setting is Paris, where Hawke is winding up a book tour; just before he has to go to the airport, Delpy shows up at his book-signing and they rekindle their friendship, talking as they walk through the streets of the city. The film works better, I think, because they’re nine years older, much more interesting, and most of all, they deal with the always-compelling issues of lost love and missed opportunities.
Two unusual films, exceptionally well-written, well-cast, and well-made. What more could you ask for?