Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pirate Radio

The Film: Pirate Radio

The Cast: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans, Kenneth Branaugh, Emma Thompson, etc.

The Dealio: In 1960's England, it was not so much a case of England Swings. It was more a case of sequestering potentially polluting rock to one inconveniently timed hour per day. This was done, of course, for only the purest of motives: for the protection of the impressionable children, you understand. Against this restrictive background, several adventurous, hardy and rule-shattering folks banded together to move the music into international waters,where- it was thought- they could operate without censorship. Inevitably, some of the politicians got exercised enough by these impudent, in-your-face 'pirates' to seek legal- and not quite legal- ways to kill the music.
That's the set-up, and this movie takes you inside one such operation, run by the aristocratic liberal played by Bill Nighy (possibly the most effortless scene-stealer in show biz today). The music is peppy, effervescent and, well, groovy, baby. Which, to my mind, makes the soundtrack The. Best. Ever. The folks responsible for providing it are an odd group comprised of the usual free spirits, but also some fairly cipher-ish types who wander in and out once in a while, causing you, the viewer, and even characters in the story to say, 'Oy! Who are you, then?' There is great good humor, rakish misbehavior and loads of stereotypes. But there is never any back story on anyone except Rhys Ifans' character (not the most interesting, interestingly enough. I could have learned more about Bill Nighy's founder of Pirate Radio's motivation and story). More, please? Might I have a skosh more?

The Grading Session: 4.16 stars out of 5. More joy, more meat, more back story. But don't change a thing about the music. It doth truly swing like a pendulum do.

Lessons Learned: Sometimes music fuels such fierce emotions that people do rash, dangerous and noble things in the defense of their muse. And, BTW, when has the censorship of music (or books, for that matter) ever resulted in anything more than a united backlash of support for free expression?

No comments:

Post a Comment