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Tim's Movie Review of the Day: 'Almost Famous' (2000)

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Tim's Movie Review of the Day: 'Almost Famous' (2000)

Post by Timma1986 on Tue May 17, 2011 6:54 pm



Directed by: Cameron Crowe
Cast: Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand, Jason Lee, Zooey Deschanel, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jimmy Fallon, Fairuza Balk, Anna Paquin

My, oh my. What a great film. While I was watching 'Almost Famous', my eyes were practically having a love affair with the television screen. 'Almost Famous' is a love fable disguised as an underdog triumph. It explores ideas of rebellion within rebellion. The red-hot rock bands that lit up the 70s were unable to escape stereotyping, and not without good reason. Suffice it to say that they dug their own hole...a hole filled with lots and lots of drugs, sex, and egotistical narcissism. But those that were along for the ride weren't necessarily heartily devoted to maintaining that hip groove that was personified by heavy drug use, promiscuous sex, and the shredding of an electric guitar. Some, like 15-year old aspiring rock journalist William Miller, were simply there to live in the moment and fulfill undiscovered aspirations.

Plot Synopsis (Possible Spoilers Below):
The year is 1973. William Miller (Fugit) is a teenager with dreams of becoming a rock journalist, which sharply contrasts his protective mother's (Frances McDormand) opinion that he should go to law school after he graduates. However, the moment his sister (Zooey Deschanel) set herself free of her mother and left her little brother all of her rock albums, William's future became clear (for him at least). William begins with sending in all of his reports and critiques to rock journalist Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who eventually has a face-to-face chat with William and offers him $35 to report on the Black Sabbath concert that was to take place that night. Reluctantly, William's mother brings him to the concert while redundantly spewing parental advice ("Don't do drugs!"). However, his plans for the night are foiled by a stubborn security guard who refuses to let him in. It's only when Stillwater (Sabbath's opening act) shows up that William manages to get backstage, but not before Will meets young Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), a "Band-Aid" with a quirky personality and a heart worn on her sleeve. After appealing to the band members' better nature, they agree to take him along for a few tour dates. From there, William will discover what kind of work goes into being an on-the-road rock journalist, the boundaries to which a 15-year old will be pushed in such situations, and of course all the benefits of fame without anybody actually knowing your name.

I was deeply moved by this film, particularly by the third act. I'm not saying that plots along these lines have never been done before, but I will say that plots like these have never been so honest, involving, and heartfelt. As I mentioned before, at its core this is a love story through and through. Don't allow yourself to be fooled by all the dramatic change that surrounds young William as the story progresses. Yes, one of its themes involves going from a nobody to a somebody. But at its heart, this film is really about the artificial existence we place around ourselves when we are presented with fame. It wades through the contrived connections we make along the way...the "fake friends", to put it in layman's terms.

Fame will stab you, enter your veins, and travel into your brain, your heart and your soul. As Penny Lane is a prime example, love is only as real as your brain can interpret. Penny toys with young William's emotions, though she doesn't realize it (including but not limited to convincing him to move to Morocco with her). She guides him through this new environment he's been pulled into, but she won't give him the real 'her' (including her real name). On the contrary, William is deeply in love with Penny (or at least as close as possible as it is to be with someone you don't truly know). Though she encourages it at first, we first begin to see signs of Penny's true feelings when she walks away in subtle sorrow as her fellow "band-aids" take William's virginity.

Though Will initially believed this was the life for him, he soon realizes what the truly important things in life are. His mother can't stand the very thought of being separated from her son for so long a period of time. He soon sees that the publicly glamourized (and criticized) lifestyles of the biggest rock bands are merely an attempt to convey the message that with fame, comes perfection in all things. And on the outside, it's true. You'll get everything you want...just not what your heart really desires. Stillwater struggles to remain intact as William watches and listens with pen and notepad in hand. Just as the band discovers what direction they want to take, William discovers his path as well. All throughout, all William seemingly wants is to get his interview with the lead guitarist (Billy Crudup), but whether he went in with the initial desires or not, he did find what he truly wanted.

The ending is perhaps the saddest aspect of the story, even though only one aspect of it is truly sad. The rest of it is warm, heartfelt, and delivered in an accomplished and confident tone. I'm still not even quite sure to make of the conclusion, but I AM quite sure that it is the right way to end it.

Final Consensus: 'Almost Famous' is a brutally honest, though humble portrait of what truly goes on underneath the blanket of fame that covers rock and roll bands, whether it be the drugs, the love, or the false connections made along the way.

4/4 Stars
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Timma1986
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Post Count : 21
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Location : Las Vegas, NV
Interests : I love acting, improv, and movies. I like to write my movie reviews whenever I go see a new film. I also enjoy reading and playing video games, and occasionally playing basketball.
Registration date : 2011-03-16

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