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Movie Review: Pirate Radio

March 27, 2010

First of all, if your community doesn’t have an alternative theater, and you’re stuck with crappy corporate cinema ‘round the clock, I’m so sorry.  We have The Historic Normal Theater, a restored 1930’s Art Deco theater that plays foreign, alternative, and classic films.  Call city hall and bitch at them.  Start one yourself if you have to, but every community ought to have a Normal theater.  If you have not joined an entire theater audience wholeheartedly shouting out “A shrubbery!” when the movie character begins, “Bring me…”, or the whole audience bursting into applause at the end of a film, your community is missing a shared experience.  If you’ve never been deeply moved in the theater by a film that nobody has ever heard of, there’s a whole world of elitism for you yet to explore.

Anyway, this evening MrsDoF and I went there to see Pirate Radio: the boat that rocked.  It’s an ensemble comedy inspired by actual pirate radio in Britain in the 1960’s.  And when I say “inspired by” I mean; “characters in the story are carbon-based life forms, just like in the actual historical event!”  OK, it’s a little closer than that, but it isn’t a documentary.

Thing is, according to the movie, in Britain in the ‘60’s, you couldn’t broadcast Rock ‘n Roll – the official stations all broadcast classical music.  So there was this radio station on a ship moored out at sea, and practically everybody listened to that instead of the official station.  The authorities spend most of the movie trying to shut them down, and in the end they succeed, sort of.  Only not.  Which is not to say they don’t stop broadcasting.

It’s a delightfully improbable tale of filth, depravity, and Rock ‘n Roll and the bureaucrats who wanted all of it gone.  Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost, and a whole bunch of other people some of whom I recognized. 

You might wonder if a bunch of whacked-out rock rebels know how to safely operate a ship at sea, and that’s a really good question.  One that perhaps they should have asked themselves…

The movie was not, to put it mildly, a financial success and may not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re used to having the story crammed down your throat with a cinematic score with car chases and explosions, you definitely won’t like it, but we enjoyed it.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. cindy
    March 28, 2010 at 08:17 | #1

    I want to see this movie!  Seems Gordon and I never go to the movies anymore.  Many times, we wind up seeing them on pay-per-view, which is way cheaper, but doesn’t have the same ambience of the large screen.  We are certainly not tempted by $10 popcorn and $6 sodas.

    Which reminds me of an amusing story from my past.  When I was 13, my Mom, Dad and I went to see “Gone with the Wind.”  During the intermission, my Dad gave me money and sent me to the lobby to get us sodas.  When I saw that I didn’t have enough money, I looked out the door, saw the gas station, and thought about the soda machines.  I ran out and bought three cans of soda.  Just as I sat back down in the theater feeling good about my resourcefulness, a manager came in and said we couldn’t have soda that wasn’t bought in the theater.  My Dad took them outside and did his best to guzzle what he could so they wouldn’t be wasted.  I felt bad, but Mom praised my efforts.

    I had the best parents!

    ~~cindy

  2. Sue B.
    March 28, 2010 at 10:56 | #2

    I loved the Normal Theater and it is high on the list of things I miss since moving away.  However, with all the cultural events taking place at Goshen College, my events calendar does fill up!

  3. negativechris
    March 28, 2010 at 16:22 | #3

    Outlawing broadcast rock and roll is the best thing that could possibly happen to the quality of the music.  It would make people want to go to the shows to hear new stuff.

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