Monday, October 17, 2011

CANON OF FILM: "ALMOST FAMOUS"

ALMOST FAMOUS (2000)

Director/Screenplay: Cameron Crowe

I remember saying of “Almost Famous,” a few years ago that Cameron Crowe, who based the film on his own experience as a Rolling Stone journalist touring with bands like “Led Zeppelin,” and “The Allman Brothers Band”, that he was luckiest son-of-a-bitch kid of all-time. I realize now just how talented he had to have been to accomplish all that he did before he was even allowed to drink, back when the drinking age was 18. There’s no doubt that “Almost Famous,” is not only his best film, but his most personal, and this coming from an already well-established filmmaking career, with “Jerry MaGuire,” “Say Anything,” and the script for “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” already on his resume. He understands more than any other filmmaker how powerful music is, how just the hearing of a song can make someone reflect back to a past memory or moment from their lives, makes it far more powerful than any other art form. That his movies are capable of these emotions more than most other writer/directors is nothing short of masterful. I also once said that this is the perfect 15-year boy dream movie, and I notice now that when the movie came out, I was 15, and I still remember the magic I saw in “Almost Famous,” from the first time I watched it, and constantly feel that emotion brought back every time I see it again. Winning him the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, Crowe’s film structurally isn’t much different than most films where a summer would change a boy’s life forever, but the movie doesn’t just replicate the era of a 70s Rock n Roll band touring the country, it shows the never-ending voyage of going thru a rabbit hole and ending up in another world. For William Miller, (Patrick Fugit) he has to balance the line where he befriends his idols, and yet humanizes them thru there weaknesses and excesses, such as Penny Lane (Oscar-nominated Kate Hudson, who should’ve won) a band-aid groupie who’s as much apart of the band, in terms of the backstage dynamics as the guitarist Russell (Billy Crudup) who she’s in love with, and is constantly ducking Billy's interview. Reality lies grounded in Billy’s mom, Elaine (Oscar-nominated Frances McDormand) a College Professor who is just as scary a presence over the phone as she is in person, making even Russell buckle from the tone of her voice informing them to not do drugs, also reminding us just how young our “heroes,” actually were.  I don’t know what it’s actually like touring with a band, but I imagine it probably isn’t nearly as fun or interesting in the moment, especially after the newness of it fades, but I don’t think the destinations or even the journey is important, but instead, the memories of it that forever enthrall us. Notice the film begins with ticket studs, posters, and pamphlets, and ends with picture. I believe Crowe realizes this too.
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