Monday, November 23, 2009

Rock This Boat!

YouTube - "Pirate Radio" - Official Trailer [HD]

If you like classic '60's rock and dandy British comedies, you'll dig Pirate Radio. This retro ride from director Richard Curtis, who's best known for his sweet and light touch in the classic Brit coms Four Wedding and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love, Actually,spreads happy dust over an interesting footnote in British history.

Back in 1966--at the height of the British rock revolution-- the famously stuffy and staid BBC shockingly restricted its home grown ground-breaking music from pulsating over its own venerable airwaves. But Brits still got their ears rockin' courtesy of pirate radio stations broadcasting rock 'n' roll beyond U.K. territorial waters.Thanks to radio pirates, Brits were singing and dancing along to the likes of the Beatles ( noticeably absent from the soundtrack), The Stones, The Kinks, The Who etc.

Curtis' fictional ship, Radio Rock, is populated with the usual quirky misfits. All risk easy caricature, but the actors add likable dimension. Philip Seymour Hoffman infuses the lone American renegade DJ called The Count with a defiant pathos that only an actor of such range and natural appeal could pull off in such choppy and sentimental waters. The Count's star status is in jeopardy when the more celebrated enigmatic British DJ,Gavin-- played with suave comic appeal by Rhys Ifans-- hits the deck to storm the airwaves.

Bill Nighy is terrific, too as Quentin the station owner and cool captain. And Kenneth Branagh makes a comically menacing star turn as a government meanie hellbent on shutting down the pirate radio stations through a series of loopholes and gotcha maneuvers. Emma Thompson has a brief, but captivating go as an aging floozy whose son was sent aboard to bond with his father. Just who the lucky sperm donor turns out to be a surprise all. January Jones, best known as the oft put-upon Betty Draper on Mad Men gets to push the buttons here as a heartless American tart, playing fast and loose with a couple of DJs' hearts.

You'll likely find yourself as immersed in the characters' personal relationships and longings as the quest to claim the airwaves for the evolution of the pop cultural revolution. This is a Richrad Curtis comedy, after all, and there's never really any danger; there are no real renegades on this ride.

But it is the beat-- that great music--that will keep you bobbing along, through what is a rather long and sometimes wayward journey. If you like this music, you'll be happy to hang on to the sweet end. And if you're a nostalgic radio head like me, you'll groove too, to the old-fashioned broadcasting equipment, cramped studio and vinyl records.

But if you're a casual listener, along say, to appease a date, you might find yourself grabbing for a life boat. But don't go cruising the concession stand. That popcorn will kill you.

Pirate Radio will just make you tap your feet uncontrollably, hum along, sing a long, maybe break out into a giddy sense of joy. Hey, it's only rock 'n' roll but I like it. Yes, I do!

Drive safe. Play nice. Dance fast.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am not a rock 'n roll fan, but this wonderful review of "Pirate Radio" makes me really want to see it. Thanks for still another excellent article - what variety you give us Amy Beth Arkawy. Cynthia