Best of the Decade #2: Almost Famous
I touched on my appreciation for Almost Famous yesterday in my “Weekly Seven” list of music-oriented movies. For the longest time, I held out watching this movie. I didn’t know much about it and for some reason I was under the impression that it was a typical romantic comedy. This was probably because the cover featured only Kate Hudson’s face, and those are the types of movies that she usually makes. I finally figured out what the movie was about and watched it this past summer. Then I watched it again a few weeks later, and it has become one of my favorite movies of all time. I love film, music and writing. No movie brings these worlds together quite like Almost Famous.
The film is actually a semi-autobiographical story about writer/director Cameron Crowe’s experience as a rock journalist when he covered bands like The Allman Brothers Band and The Who. The part of the journalist is played by Patrick Fugit, and the fictional rock band he is covering is called Stillwater. He is only 15 years old, but he tricks Rolling Stone magazine into thinking he is older than that. This allows him to skip out of high school for weeks on end to tour with the band.
While on the road, he meets a clan of groupies (or “band-aids” as they call themselves). Lead by Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), the crew has a strong appreciation for the band’s music and considers themselves huge fans rather than groupies. They help Fugit’s character get the interviews he needs for his story and try to make him feel at home on the road. Getting those interviews is much more difficult than he expected, especially in the case of the group’s mysterious guitarist (Billy Crudup). In the process of trying to get these interviews, the boy experiences hilarity, debauchery, and even tragedy. The last scene between with Hudson and Fugit is one of the most beautifully tragic scenes I have ever seen captured on film.
Hudson shows a dynamic in this film that I haven’t seen from her since. She is like a mystical being that is cooler and more powerful than anyone else around, yet still pathetic in her desperate pursuit of Crudup’s character.
I consider Cameron Crowe to be a ridiculously talented and lucky man. He has had a chance to experience two separate careers that I would consider dream jobs of mine (rock journalist and filmmaker). He brings his two passions together perfectly in Almost Famous. You can sense that he truly loves music, and the film’s stellar soundtrack is evidence of his fantastic taste in music. Almost Famous is a testament to great music and the relationship between the people who make it and those who listen to it.