Tuesday, April 20, 2010

British Rock Films

On Monday night, I watched Pirate Radio, a Richard Curtis film that is known in the UK as The Boat that Rocked. The film is about a pirate radio station on a ship off of the coast in the 1960s that broadcast rock and roll 24 hours a day back when British broadcasters didn't allow that sort of thing! (Egads!) The movie was really entertaining and was chock full of some of my favorite Brit actors. Kenneth Branagh and Jack Davenport play the government officials hell bent on bringing down the pirates, while Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Chris O'Dowd (ROY!), and Nick Frost play a few of the pirate broadcasters. (ARGH!) Two of the sassiest girls from St. Trinian's and the ever excellent Emma Thompson make cameo appearances! Yay!!

Being set at a radio station, you can imagine that the soundtrack is killer. It is some of the very best '60s music, including The Kinks, Turtles, Beach Boys, Who, Rolling Stones, Moody Blues, Dusty Springfield, and Procol Harem. I was totally singing along with much of it. Rock and roll from that era was such fun, and this film really highlights that.

This film actually resonated with something very personal to me. Back in the day before our local alternative station here in Boston was streaming on the web, JR and I had each downloaded the Virgin Radio UK player onto our computers and would listen to that all day. (I actually can listen to music and work at the same time. I actually work BETTER - and not just when I am collating - when I have music on in the background.) There was tons of our favorite music, and yet, every day, at random points during the day, one of the DJs would play Guns and Roses' "Paradise City". It was so incongruous with the rest of the music on the station, artists like Blur, Supergrass, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Manic Street Preachers, Morrissey, and Kylie (that's Minogue.) We would email each other when it was on and laugh and laugh. Now our station does stream on the web, but a few years ago, it was the Virgin player that got us our daily dose of Brit pop.

North Americans be forewarned: there was a significant amount of editing from the way this film was shown in Britain to the way it was shown in America, so people watching the Region 1 disc should be sure to watch the deleted scenes to appreciate the scope of director Richard Curtis' original vision.

This film is definitely getting added to my list of favorite British rock and roll movies: 24 Hour Party People, Velvet Goldmine, and Sid and Nancy (although I have problems with that film, mostly because I hate Nancy SO MUCH.) I still need to see Control, and I want to see Nowhere Boy, even though I am not a big fan of the Beatles. (I know, I know, take away my Anglophile card.) I also really want to see the Blur film, No Distance Left to Run, but that is proving difficult to find.

Do you have a favorite rock and roll film that you think I should watch? If you do, be sure to let me know in the comments, and I will let you know in another post what I think of it!


  1. Pirate Radio- awesome!
    Control- awesome!
    Sid and Nancy - awesome!

    Your post? Well, what do you think? ;-)

  2. I looove Velvet Goldmine!! Has all of my most fave actors together in one place in it!



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