Friday, March 4, 2011

DVD Roundup: Pirate Radio and Get Low

I didn't expect to enjoy Pirate Radio because in general I'm not a great audiophile and 60s British rock, other than Beatles doesn't ring my bell.  However, as I suspected, I'm way overgeneralizing my taste in music, and there was a ton of great music to enjoy in this.  Pirate Radio tells the real story of illegal radio stations that broadcast Rock and Roll in the 1960s by having their "station" on a ship in the North Sea.  Bill Nighy owns the boat, and at the beginning he's bringing a friend's son, Carl (Tom Sturridge) on board to give him a new start.  On board are all the DJs, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Nick Frost, and a bunch of British comedic actors whose names I didn't know, but were pretty funny.  They eventually bring a famous DJ Rhys Ifans to save them after they lose sponsors.

We see some of the story through Carl's eyes - the drugs, the sex, etc., but it's fairly uneven.  As a second storyline, we meet Kenneth Branagh and Tom Davenport as government ministers tasked with making the Pirate Radio stations illegal.  This takes them more than a year to figure out laws they can pass or rules to set up for a good reason that will stop the radio stations.  They're basically assholes, but it's funny watching them try.  Overall, it's a good movie, if incredibly uneven in its story telling.  But at least there's pretty great music over it all.  3 of 5 stars/lambs

Get Low should have been present in some form on Oscar night - sadly it was only present at the Independent Spirit Awards for First Feature and Supporting Male (Bill Murray).  I loved this movie.  Robert Duvall stars as Felix Bush, a curmudgeon living out in the woods by himself in 1930s Tennessee.  His is notified of the death of a friend, and it seems to spark the desire to find out what the world thinks of him.  It's obvious he's been alone for a long time, enough that legend has built up around him that's as much fiction as fact.  He tries to get the minister (Gerald McRaney) to throw a funeral before he dies so he can find out what people would say, but he won't do it.  However, a young assistant at the local funeral home, Buddy (Lucas Black) overhears this and realizes the business it could bring to the failing funeral home run by Frank Quinn (Bill Murray).  So they offer to set up the "funeral party" for Mr. Bush.  While in town, he runs into an old friend (maybe the only person to have really known him), Mattie Darrow (Sissy Spacek).

Everything is going smoothly for the party, but Felix wants to get someone who knows everything about him to tell the truth about it.  Whatever is in his past is too hard for him to talk about, and he tries to find an old friend to do it for him.  I won't reveal the secrets that come up, but the movie tells the story really well, not giving too much weight to the secret or the past, but reminding us that we all carry them with us.  I really liked all the acting in this movie - particularly Lucas Black.  I first saw him in Crazy in Alabama with Melanie Griffith.  She's over the top, but he's pretty amazing, and now he's grown up to be a pretty powerful screen presence.  4.5 of 5 stars/lambs


The Mad Hatter said...

Loved me some GET LOW, and agree that it was sadly underrated and underexposed. I'll have to keep PIRATE RADIO on the to-see list.

Am I imagining things, or wasn't this supposed to be a hiatus week for I-I-E?

Jess said...

Thanks for noticing, I think it was a 2-day hiatus after 30 days of two posts a day (here and the LAMB). I think I'll just be back to whatever version of my regular posting. When I see it, I post it.

Dan O. said...

Pirate Radio wasn't so bad, the only problem it had was that it was way too inconsistent and could have been so much better, given the talent involved. I still also have to still get around to seeing Get Low. Good stuff here!

Anonymous said...

I liked Get Low. I didn't think it was great, I think the talent outstretched the material presented, but it was still a really solid film. Glad you check it out.

Jess said...

Dan O. - Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy Get Low!

James - I think you put it perfectly that the talent outstripped the material. I'd rather have it that way than the opposite. Very solid film.