Movie Review: Pirate Radio
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.