I don’t write much about movies on this blog these days, mainly because I just don’t watch a lot of movies any more. The Internet has made geographic location irrelevant, and it’s now possible to watch TV shows from Canada, Australia and the UK minutes after they air in their home countries (not days or months like it used to be). And there’s just too much good TV out there to waste time on movies.
I did see one good movie the other day though – The Boat That Rocked. It’s the story of a pirate radio station broadcasting rock and roll into Britain from a boat in the North Sea in 1966. Although completely fictitious, much of the core of the story is based on (or influenced by) Radio Caroline, a real pirate station that played rock and roll all night and all day at a time when the BBC continued to stick to classical and jazz. Such pirate radio stations became immensely popular, with 20+ million Britons tuning in every week.
What makes this film is the cast: legendary British actor Bill Nighy plays Quentin, the owner of the station. Kenneth Branagh plays an uptight government official determined to get that “pornographic filth” off the airwaves. Jack Davenport (of Coupling and Swingtown) plays Branagh’s eager assistant. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays “The Count”, a bombastic American DJ. Nick Frost (of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead), Rhys Darby (of Flight of the Conchords), Tom Wisdom (of Mile High), Ralph Brown (of Life On Mars), and Chris O’Dowd (of The IT Crowd and FM) round out the cast of misfit DJs (many of whom are loosely based on real DJs). There are also cameos by Emma Thompson and, most importantly, Mad Men’s January Jones:
It’s a good, but not great movie. It’s at least entertaining and something different. I didn’t care for the ending which, although somewhat based on actual events, is filled with enough triumphant orchestral music and fist pumping by the characters that you expect them to scream “O Captain, My Captain” at any moment.