Radioman

by Jay Kerr on April 23, 2012

in Documentaries,Film Festivals,Hot Docs

Radioman
Radioman screens on Monday April 30 at 9pm (Bloor Cinema), Wednesday May 2 at 11:45pm (Bloor Cinema) and Saturday May 5 at 4:15pm (Cumberland)

Radioman (Director: Mary Kerr): How does a former New York City home­less man become a movie industry legend? Radioman has appeared in more than 100 films and tele­vi­sion shows since the early ‘90s. With his trade­mark radio around his neck, he’s become a celebrity to movie stars like George Clooney, Matt Damon and Meryl Streep. Radioman is a charming film about an eccentric dreamer who finally gets his closeup.

George Clooney, Robin Williams, and Josh Brolin sit down for inter­views and provide their take on Radioman. For the most part he’s described as a lov­able guy who is obsessed with the movies. He’s con­sidered to be good luck for a pro­duc­tion and according to Radioman, every time he appears in a film it makes money – Tower Heist, The Departed, and Elf.

The celebrity aspect of Radioman is sure to make this a pop­ular film at Hot Docs. Everyone from Paul Giamatti, Sandra Bullock, Whoopi Goldberg, Jude Law and Tom Hanks appear briefly to share their Radioman exper­i­ences. Most of these clips are quite funny, including a bizarre moment with James Gandolfini and a con­ver­sa­tion with Ricky Gervais that left me in stitches.

Radioman is cred­ited as Craig Castaldo on IMDB but he also goes by the name Craig Schwartz. It wasn’t clear to me in the film why he uses two names but it doesn’t really matter. Radioman is a fas­cin­ating char­acter – a former home­less man and alco­holic who lives in a roach-infested apart­ment and dresses like a tramp. He rides a bicycle around New York, trolling movie sets for food and hust­ling for parts in films. He dreams of becoming an actor with real speaking roles instead of the small bit parts he’s landed in the past.

I found myself wanting to know more about Radioman as the film pro­gressed. At first glance he comes across like a child, picking his nose and farting on camera but in an instant he can be quite ser­ious and sound very intel­li­gent. In one clip Johnny Depp ques­tions whether Radioman is really an eccentric bil­lion­aire having a laugh at our expense.

We never see Radioman on a com­puter but he’s shown talking on a beat up cell­phone to some­body about filming loc­a­tions. Shia LaBeouf ques­tions how Radioman can know his shooting schedule before he does. Where does Radioman get his inform­a­tion from? For a guy who often gets mis­taken as a pan­handler he seems well connected.

The film takes on a dif­ferent tone when Radioman travels to Los Angeles, hoping to crash the Oscars and hang out with his Hollywood friends. He may be the king of New York when it comes to get­ting access to the stars but in Los Angeles he’s a nobody. Unless he’s on the guest list, Radioman is just another auto­graph hound, hanging around the side­walk with the likes of Sean Young.

It was inter­esting to see the stark con­trast between the two cities from Radioman’s per­spective. Everything and everyone in LA comes across as cold and super­fi­cial com­pared to the people of New York, whom Radioman describes as being friend­lier, warmer, and kinder.

Sadly, Radioman sees celebrities as his friends. He’s lonely and the closest thing he has to a family is the movie set. When he used to drink Radioman said he felt invin­cible. He thought people were laughing with him and having a good time but he came to realize that people were really laughing at him. I wonder how many of his celebrity friends are really laughing at him, merely amused by his eccentric behaviour.

You might not know who Radioman is but chances are that you’ve already seen him in a dozen films. He’s always wanted a bigger film role and I can’t think of a better oppor­tunity than the one Mary Kerr’s doc­u­mentary provides for him. I used to look for­ward to Stan Lee cameos in Marvel films. Now I’ll be looking for Radioman cameos in every film that is shot in New York.

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