Since the theme of this issue is ‘pirates’ but not ‘people who commit warlike acts at sea without the authorization of any nation’, I’m going to be a smartass and write about movies about the ‘other’ kinds of piracy. Also because I can’t write more than one review using pirate talk without sounding like an idiot. (Okay on re-reading the Stardust review, I think we can all agree that I can’t even write *one* review using pirate talk without sounding like an idiot… arrr..gh).
But where the definition of ‘pirate’ goes, 2009’s Pirate Radio does come pretty close to falling in line with it. Though not a movie about people who say ‘Arr’ or ‘Blistering barnacles’ (okay wait, that was Tin Tin), the Richard Curtis-directed film, also known as ‘The Boat That Rocked’, is about a radio station operating from a ship anchored in the North Sea illegally – because it played popular music that the British government found ‘immoral’. Hence called ‘Pirate Radio’.
The film is set in 1966, at a time when the British Government was trying to officially outlaw offshore radio stations that were getting far more audience than the legal BBC Radio. Amidst a soundtrack that brings together the best of The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Beach Boys and The Who, Curtis also brings together an equally remarkable cast of actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost and a host of others, in a grand celebration of music.
Writer of British contemporary classics like Mr Bean, Blackadder, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bridget Jones’ Diary, Curtis’ debut directorial venture Love Actually did a spectacular job of interweaving many small stories into one big movie full of love. And although Pirate Radio does not match in wit or in class his debut, Curtis manages again to expertly create a movie about a larger cause through multiple storylines that deal with all sorts of human emotions, but ultimately, have music at the heart of them all.
So while the movie is about the fictitious ‘Radio Rock’ trying to survive and stay afloat (literally, at one point), at the same time, it’s about ‘giving it to the man’, and about the die-hard love of music. Because, to quote a line from the movie, ‘Governments will do f**k all to make the world a better place but young men and young women will always dream dreams and put those dreams into song.’
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Nick Frost, Rhys Ifans
Written By: Richard Curtis
Directed By: Richard Curtis
Note: This recommendation first appeared in MTV Noise Factory, September 2011 issue
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