Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Classic--Almost Famous

or: Almost There.

One word to sum it up: (it) Rocks!

To start off 2011 with a feature film, I decided to go for a classic that I hadn't seen before. So I grabbed my iTunes voucher and rented Almost Famous (I never knew you could rent movies on iTunes!), and I'm glad that I did. Given that it has such a marvellous ensemble cast and such an interesting story, I can see why everyone kinda went nuts for it back in the day. It always makes me happy to know now that Kate Hudson was once a great actress, instead of the tabloid freenzy everyone gives her credit for.

William Miller (Patrick Fugit) is in love with rock'n'roll, but often has to hide it from his protective and overbearing mother, Elaine (Frances McDormand). At just 15 years old, he is hired by Rolling Stone magazine to go and tour with and write about a band called Stillwater. During this journey he discovers the ins and outs of touring with such a band, and also manages to fall in love with the free-spirited Penny Lane (Kate Hudson).

I've seen-and loved-my fair share of coming-of-age films, but none seem to come close to Almost Famous. It has such a positive vibe to it that it's infectious. However, it's not all happiness in this movie. What lies beneath the movies message is something that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. It's all centred on someone who wants to break free who meets a set of people who seem to have broken free; but are also trapped in their world where optimism is never far away, though idealism is a far more realistic way to go. The way Cameron Crowe puts together this semi-autobiographical story is outstanding. He knows his characters and has a unique way of connecting them to the audience. He also knows a lot about what message he is trying to convey and effortlessly gives us an insight into the era where rock'n'roll ruled.

In 2001, Almost Famous an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay (which it wholeheartedly deserved), a nomination for Best Editing and a couple of nominations in the Best Supporting Actress category for Frances McDormand and Kate Hudson. These two are great in the film. Frances McDormand is perfect as the overbearing mother who wants her children to immerse themselves in classic literature instead of the much easier rock'n'roll music. However, it really is Kate Hudson who steals the show with her emotional yet bouncy performance as Penny Lane, who is a free spirit with a dream of going to Morroco, after she is done with Stillwater. My advice: go back to films like these, Kate, because it's what you excel in. The rest of the ensemble cast, which includes Billy Crudup, Jason Lee, Anna Paquin, Zooey Deschanel and Philip Seymour Hoffman, are all fantastic, and contribute to a really awesome, if slightly overlong, rock'n'roll film which is an enlightening classic of it's time.

THE VERDICT: Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous is a brilliant account of a great era, featuring wonderful performances which are as great as it's soundtrack.


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