In the world of
-by Erich Schoeneweiss
Every once in a while a film comes along for me that some how
manages to speak to me directly. Sometimes
the films grab me in
different ways: Star Wars grabbed my imagination, Raiders of the Lost Ark was my
sense of adventure, Cinema Paradiso/Ed Wood exemplified my love of film, and
Clerks made it OK for me to be a geek. Almost
Famous reached deeper for me. I am not a rock-n-roll aficionado.
I can't tell you what track 4 of Led Zeppelin's second album is called
(hell, for that matter I can't even tell
When we first meet William Miller he is a precocious outsider
at school because he is younger than his classmates.
His sister opens his world to the freedoms rock-n-roll has to offer and
he is forever changed. He surrounds himself with music and as we see him again
several years later he is a fifteen year old who is striving to be a rock
journalist. He meets Lester Bangs
Hoffman in quite possibly his most understated and brilliant performance yet.
Bangs is Obi Wan to William's Luke) and manages to finagle his first
assignment from him for Cream magazine by uttering nary a word.
From here it is a roller-coaster adventure for him as he sweet talks the
band Sweetwater into getting him backstage and meets Penny Lane (Kate Hudson,
you can't help but fall for her here). William
introduces Penny to Sweetwater's guitarist, and true talent behind the band,
Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup in a strong performance) not for a moment
realizing the history that already exists between the two. One night backstage
soon turns into several weeks on the road with them as William successfully
pitches a story on the band to Rolling Stone magazine. Along the way the
relationship between William and Penny grows while the relationship between
Russell and Penny is slowly revealed. It is easy to see that William is in love
with this mysterious woman who refuses to divulge her first name and asks him to
travel to Morocco with her. He is
introduced to a world of booze, drugs, women, jealousy, friendships, loyalty,
and betrayal…all of which is his responsibility to report on for the magazine.
The problem arises when he begins to like this world too
much. There's a line in the best
scene of the movie (if you watch VH1 you've seen it), the band is at odds and no
one is speaking. The Elton John
song Tiny Dancers plays on the radio and one by one everyone on the bus begins
singing, thus healing their wounds. William
turns to Penny and tells her he has to go home, she tells him he is home.
Every generation is said to have a voice, I believe Cameron
Crowe is the voice of my generation. There's
something about his characters that just resonate with honesty (with maybe the
exception of Jerry Maguire). Lloyd
Dobler standing in a rainstorm depressed because he just confessed his love to
Diane Court and she
gave him a pen. Kyra Sedgwick reaching across and unlocking Campbell Scott's
car door in Singles. His characters
are real and Almost Famous is loaded with so many real moments. Almost Famous is
I believe a round about study of what it is to be cool from the point of view of
someone who isn't. That's why I
loved this film. I understood
William's urge to be cool, his attraction to these people, and in the end I also
understood what he had to do and why (unlike my partner I believe in giving away
as little about a movie as possible). There
comes a time in most of our lives where we come to accept ourselves for who we
are, that's when one truly becomes cool.
When this movie hits DVD you'll know I'm not cool because
I'll be sitting at home all night watching it over and over again.
GO SEE THIS MOVIE. I can't
stress that enough.
Best film of the year.
Back to work….
Almost Famous: 4 Griffins (out of 4) My first 4 Griffin review
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