Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Look under your bed, it’ll set you free.

Okay, you were promised a countdown, and, much like me I’ve gotten off
track. But I’m back with the number 1 movie of all time. Well,
actually, it’s not really my favorite movie of all time. So I guess
the time has come to end suspense of why exactly I have 5.5 favorite
movies. I have tweo competing favorite movies of all time and
depending on what context I’m asked in I might say one or the other.
This film, that I will write about in just a moment gets second
billing only for the reason that it was not as influential in my life
and in my generation. Don’t worry, you’ll hear all about that one
later, but as for this movie, the actual better of the two, it’s
something that’s very near and dear to my heart. Like the other
movies that I’ve said something about previously, I’ll try not to
repeat myself, but I seriously love this movie and it’s hard not to
gush ad naseum about it, so I’ll try to keep this interesting.

So my favorite movie of all time (sometimes) is Almost Famous. Yes
we’re back to Cameron Crowe. He’s my favorite writer (the Coen
Brothers are my favorite film makers). I love Mr. Crowe dearly
because he got me through high school with Say Anything and Jerry
Maguire. But he got me throught college with Almost Famous. I have
the special edition of Almost Famous which is called Untitled : The
Bootleg (also known as the Directors cut). It’s almost 3 hours long
so it wouldn’t have really appealed to a theatrical audience, but it’s
definitely the version to watch if you’re a fan of the movie. I was
watching the commentary on this untitled version the other day and
Cameron Crowe says something very interesting about the film, well,
actually he says a lot of interesting things about the film, but one
of them is that the film was all about capturing the feeling of the
time. Sure it captured emotion and human interaction, but really what
you should take away from Almost Famous is the feeling. It’s that
feeling when rock was still subversive, when rock was still cool, when
it was mysterious and mythic. Those rockstars of the seventies were
the hercules, the beowulf, the napoleon of their day. These gods who
told us what we were feeling before we even knew we were feeling it.
I look at that time as the last time rock was truly pure. When it was
really about good music, and not solely about money. And you’ve got
to hand it to him, Cameron really did capture that feeling.

Most of that feeling is really all Kate Hudson. She plays Penny Lane
as a person who really truly is a groupie (or band aid) just for the
music. Like, she just loves the music so much that she has to tour
with the bands…and have sex with them. When the logic is written
out it doesn’t really make much sense, but in the film, she is
absoultely magnetic. You just can’t help but love her and you can’t
take your eyes off her.

I also have to say the costume designer and art department also get
major credit for making the movie feel authentically like the ’70s. I
wasn’t even there and I know it seems authentic.

I could wax poetic about how amazingly awesome Kate Hudson’s
performance is, but really you should just rent the movie. I could
also wax poetic about how amazingly awesome Frances McDormand is, but
if you’ve seen any of her movies, you probably already know — I was
watching Fargo the other day and dear lord is that movie awesome. And
yes, the writing in Almost Famous is awesome. And the directing is
awesome. And all the actors rock.

But really, what I want to talk about is the seamless way in which the
film really lets us into this world of rock and roll. Unlike most
rock movies where you are simply witnessing the action, Almost Famous
really brings you in and says, come stay awhile. It’s a thank you
note to rock for being there through the good and the bad.

I think that’s where the movie really gets me. It is basically a
movie about how music touches people, but it’s not some shmultzy music
of the heart shit, it’s like real, this is how music effects regular
people’s lives, stuff. I love that it’s not an uplifting movie about
kids from a bad neighborhood that are changed by music (though I’m not
saying that those are bad, or not important). Almost Famous is about
a kid who loves music and gets to live out every kid who has ever
loved music’s fantasy. It’s definitely amazing that the story is
true, but it kind of doesn’t matter. It’s all about loving music.
That is the one thread between every single character in the movie,
even as the interpersonal relationships get muddled, they still all
love music. One of my favorite scenes in the movies is where Philip
Seymour Hoffman (playing Lester Bangs, the famous rock writer) is
talking about how because the war is over, it’s a dangerous time for
rock and roll, there’s not as much to sing about that really means
something. The scene fades into Penny Lane dancing alone to Cat
Stevens’ The Wind in a now empty arena after a concert. I just think
that says it all. She’s the one who will always love rock and roll
for being rock and roll. As William says in the end, “she was the
biggest fan.”

And that’s what Almost Famous is to me. Sure it’s made of great
acting, great writing and great directing. And, as I’ve said before,
my favorite scene in movie history is the ‘tiny dancer’ scene. But
really it’s all about loving music, and really that’s all I’m about.
I’m all about loving music, and the feeling that it gives us when we
love a silly piece of music so much that it almost hurts. That’s
Almost Famous.

Peace, Love, and being Hooked on a Feeling,


November 7, 2007 - Posted by | Cameron Crowe, Movie Reviews, Movies, Music

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