07/06/18 Day 4: Almost Famous
This was one of my favourite movies growing up. I never really thought about the acting of the main guy, I just saw myself and put myself in his shoes, hanging round rockstars and “band aids” at 15 in the time when rock and roll still meant something. Almost Famous is a modern classic. The director had the most success with his 80s teen movies Fast times at Ridgemont High and Say Anything, and whilst I love those films too, Almost Famous holds a special place for me. My brother showed it to me when I was about 13/14. And I never forgot that airplane scene when they go through some “turbulence”. A fantastic and relatable joke that is even just funny to explain as it is to see but I won’t spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t seen it. Kate Hudson’s high point in her career came right at the beginning of this, she was even nominated which shouldn’t surprise me. Her eyes in this film always stayed with me even years after.?” She is a great modern character. Billy Crudup is the worst kind of guy to be caught in a love triangle with. You’re never going to win, he’s just too cool! The soundtrack represents the film perfectly- a love letter to a time of less rules and more freedom. The late Phillip Seymour Hoffman is pitch perfect as the mentor to the young journalist. He never says it but you get the feeling he sees himself in the kid and even though he knows the times are a changin he wants the kid to get to experience some of the ecstasy he’s been riding through for years. Watching back now, you really believe in Stillwater as a band, a sort of Creedence ClearWater Survival mixed with Led Zeppelin. I also feel as though This is Spinal Tap influenced the film a little. There are similar set pieces of band mates arguing about their roles in the band or worried about a Yoko wife. When I was younger I looked up to Lady. Now that I’m older, I’m less in awe and see a young rebellious girl that doesn’t know what’s good for her. The actor playing the lead, I have never seen him in anything else. I wonder if that was choice or just no demand. I can sort of see him more as a journalist rather than an actor which I don’t think is just a coincidence. Frances McDormand as the over protective mother is inspired and is one of the few times where I have still liked the mother that cares too much even after the lies, guilt and embarrassment. McDormand probably has around 15 minutes screen time but she is perfect in her moments and her laughs to lines metre is stellar. When they are in the boss playing Elton Johns Tiny Dancer, a brilliant scene is born, such minimal design but the execution is wonderful. They are on the boss and the song is playing. One girl starts singing then the guy joins her then more join and more until the whole bus is singing. The kid say I have to go home. Late Hudson does a weird peekaboo and says you are home. The kid turns forward smiling. Kate Hudson’s head rests on his shoulder and the camera spins in to his happy hopeful face. That’s how you make a classic. It’s a happy film, even the harsh bits are short and easy to swallow.
Try getting Tiny Dancer out of your head for weeks after watching Almost Famous. It won’t happen. Quick mention to My Name Is Earl guy because he gets some good laughs in almost all of his lines as the egotistical lead singer. This is a perfect role for him.
The ending is really satisfying. The movie is quite a long length but like William Miller, you’re just happy to be taken for the ride with characters as vivid and beautiful as Russell and Ms Penny Lane. The film has the structure of going to a party. A couple drinks in, everybody’s having fun, too much gets drunk and a fight breaks up. Hangover in the morning followed by a gradual return to a clear head. (Having just read this back, while I agree with the analogy, I just wish I could have put it into better words. Alas for the moment that will do?