24 Hour Party People ★★★

With only a mild appreciation for the era of UK music at the heart of 24 Hour Party People, my appreciation for Michael Winterbottom's clever-but-detached love letter to impresario Tony Wilson is similarly remote. Steve Coogan stars as the Manchester TV Presenter whose subsequent nightclub and record label were instrumental to the transformation of the post-punk new wave scene of the 1980s into the rave culture of the 1990s. 24 Hour Party People follows a familiar trajectory, charting Wilson's cycle through success and excess and back to square one, left with nothing but the ideals that fueled him for his two decades of influence. However, Winterbottom monkeys around form enough to liven up Wilson's story in the irreverent style of the man himself. Coogan has always been a tough performer for me to embrace, and maybe his snide aloofness is more apt than usual in this case, but the choice to limit Wilson to two-dimensions -- ambitious music fan; sarcastic promoter -- contains the film within a sphere of too-cool anthropology that is far more fascinated by the noise than the people who make it. With Anton Corbijn's Joy Division movie Control covering some of the same ground (arguably the most interesting ground) five years later, and with greater detail, introspection and artistry, 24 Hour Party People may seem a bit lightweight to someone who has never before listened to The Happy Mondays (and considers them a mighty step downward from the previous decade's music at the other end of the Wilson rainbow); but, it might also be the perfect tonic to die-hard fans of that lively scene.