Film | Radioman (2012)

He’s been called a “cultural institution” by Tom Hanks.

To some, he is a lucky charm.

With countless guests and blink-and-you’ll-miss appearances in films, Radioman is a person that defines the city of New York.

I have often called myself a film enthusiast or even a film fanatic, but seeing the obsession and passion that Radioman possess towards the films, I now feel embarrassed calling myself a fan of cinema. He is an eccentric person full of quirks, but one who comes across as genuine and honest. He’s on first name basis with movie legends, yet he is simply happy hanging around the movie set, acting in bit parts, never really asking for any help from the actors. It is probably his humility towards the stars that draws them towards him and let them be in their casual state even when he is around.

Radioman the documentary is a short look at the life of a person who in his own way has been an integral part of cinema. It’s a documentary that, through the story of this one man, showcases the power of cinema – it was a chance encounter with Bruce Willis that led Radioman to changing the course of his life, from being homeless to having a certain meaning and goal.

Radioman is a reality check on life. From the life lived by the homeless, to the perceptions people have towards the less fortunate, to the true meaning of friendship, Radioman is a also a one man institution on life’s lessons.

Due to the rather short running time of 70 minutes, the documentary fails to dig deep into the often depressing life of Radioman, especially his childhood, with just a passing mention of an abusive father. What it does do is, while staying on the surface of issues, is manage to compile the life of a man who has an almost childish enthusiasm about cinema and a never say die attitude.

One of the most poignant moments in the documentary is when on a trip to LA, to meet his beloved stars during Oscar week, Radioman doesn’t get the same positive response as he does back in New York. Still, he remains loyal to the starts, rejoicing, having only met Cher. He sums up his trip as “Sometimes it’s a tidal wave of fun, other times it’s monsoon misery”.

Radioman, who at times remotely looks like Robin Williams or even Steven Spielberg from a certain angle, is well aware of his persona and that he himself is a “character”, a man with a radio around his neck, and that is what makes him who he is. He is also at peace with this. It is his frankness that is his most attractive feature and the reason why most stars are comfortable talking to him. In return, he never pushes them for attention, giving them their own space, happy, knowing that the actors “know” him.

Radioman is just the tip of the iceberg to what is a plethora of interesting stories from the life of a man who has spent his time on the streets of New York and continues to do so showing himself to the entire world one frame at a time in the form of cameos. The documentary is a brilliant character study of a cinephile and the extent people go to for some movie magic.

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