Wednesday, September 15, 2010

10th Anniversary: Almost Famous

Today is the 10th anniversary of Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous (2000). I never quite understood its appeal but I understand it's beloved. I have only a vague recall of it. I remember Billy Crudup arms outstretched "I am a Golden God!" (and that Brad Pitt was originally earmarked for the part) and Frances McDormand's funny bossy telephone calls. I also vividly remember Penny Lane's (Kate Hudson) coat. You know the one. She never took it off in my mind (but this photo says otherwise) or at least that's how much the coat stayed burned to my retinas. So thanks, Betsy Heimann... and sorry you weren't Oscar nominated. What was that about exactly?

Anyway... I only bring this up because I'm wondering if you, dear reader, are one of this movie's groupies? If so, please explain the magic. Or maybe you'd like to share your own personal "I don't get it" in response to an otherwise beloved movie. We all have them.
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42 comments:

Andrew R. said...

Nate...WHY DON'T YOU LIKE IT!?!?

There are very few beloved movies I don't get...but I've never liked the 1946 version of Great Expectations.

adri said...

Yes, I continue to really like this one.

For me it's the central character that makes me feel tender towards the movie (Patrick Fugit playing William Miller, a version of director/writer Cameron Crowe). This is an original character I hardly ever see (on film), a teenage boy who is smart, thoughtful, kind, sweet and so full of enthusiasm and a wonderful innocence. He isn't "cool" at all. Like his mentor says, "we're not cool".

Actually, every time I see Patrick Fugit onscreen, I think, now there's somebody special.

And the rest of the movie is such fun, because terrific actors are given great scenes. William's mother is Frances McDormand and his sister is Zooey Deschanel. What a family! I love to see the way they interact with the world!

And all the actors in the music world have individual not generic roles, in which they are delightful. So I guess it's as an actor's showpiece, where each actor is well-cast and respected, that appeals to me.

Robert said...

I do really like this movie. Not LOVE, but strongly like. It just hit my heart somehow, I can't quite explain it. I quite liked Kate Hudson, Zooey was lovely as usual, and Frances McDormand was great in delivering her lines through a telephone the whole time!

tess said...

I am absolutely an Almost Famous groupie (excuse me, BAND-AID). I don't have a particularly well-thought-out reason for it, exactly - the film i just like magic for me. It sweeps me up into this marvelous, endlessly humane world where dreams come true and anything can happen. It's such a sweet, starry-eyed movie.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have to dig out my DVD...

NATHANIEL R said...

andrew r -- i don't remember it well enough to say. maybe i couldn't buy into its fantasy sweetness? i'm not sure i just never adapted to its groove. I remember watching it from a certain remove and never being completely absorbed. and i did see it in the theater so it's not a viewing condition problem.

Glenn said...

It's all right, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Count me among the groupies. I think the thing that really works for me is just how sweet the movie is. Despite the sex, drugs, and rock n' roll, the innocence of the William character and general "decency" of everyone else makes it a really lovely thing.

Also count me strongly among the Kate Hudson fans. Some people don't care for the performance, some say it was just directed well. Whatever the case is it was a wonderful performance for me. "What kind of beer?" and that wry smile get me every time. Great cast from top to bottom, and easily Crowe's best in my opinion.

-VAL

Morgan said...

Funny -- I wouldn't call it sweet, not really. Nostalgic, maybe. William is a sweet boy but I think we're meant to understand that he's been pretty profoundly damaged by his experience on the road with these people, despite the moments of glamor along the way. There's a bit of a montage at the end where everybody seems to be just fine that actually felt a little disingenuous to me, and unfaithful to the rest of the film.

But of course it's all kind of a conundrum because even given all of the profoundly negative things about these people and their lives, the shine of rock 'n roll never quite fades. I remember having that thought about The Devil Wears Prada, too -- you still kind of wish you had her job, don't you? (I did, anyway, and I'm not even particularly interested in fashion.)

Co said...

I LOVE this movies, one of the ones I just must finish watching if I catch it on television.

I guess I really identified with the lead character, since I was a teenager when I watched it.

Dom said...

A perfect script, perfect direction, perfect everything. Not to mention endlessly quotable:

I am a golden god!

I'm always home. I'm uncool.

This is a house of lies!

It's all happening!

Your aura is purple!

I could keep going on and on and on... I love it. It's a film I enjoy more with every viewing. I first saw it at 14 and didn't get the appeal. But I've enjoyed rediscovering it over and over.

The Oscar Nazi said...

Love. It.

But I'm not sure why, in particular. I guess I'm just a sucker for boys' coming-of-age movies.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Heee, Glenn kind of stole my comment. I vaguely remember thinking it was okay...and that was about it.

Fernando Moss said...

This movie is to blame for my desire to become a film director/writer... That's how much I loved it when I first watched it (I was around 15yo)...

Since then I've gone trough lots and lots of movies that I like/love way more than I do AF now, but it will always be in my heart and in my mind...

Faith said...

I watched this in middle school (with my mom, no less), and I remember very little of it. I'm not sure I knew enough back them to really appreciate it.

Logan said...

I am madly and unashamedly in love with Almost Famous.

Maybe its because I was a teenager ready to fly the coup, and very into that era of music, when I first saw it.

But I still go back to it and love it all the more. It's one of those things I guess. Sometimes you can 'not get' a movie, sometimes you can 'get it', and sometimes it reaches deep down inside you and strikes a chord. It just really resonated for me.

I especially love the scene after the airplane/storm/confessions scene, when they are all walking down the hall silently reflecting, and Billy Crudup turns and tells William to "write what you want".

And Tiny Dancer, of course.

Talone said...

"what kind of beer?"

"And if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends."

Well, whenever I get lonely, I just watch Almost Famous and visit some of my friends...

Dean said...

Add me to the groupies. It's one of my favorite films. Have you considered rewatching it Nat?

grburbank said...

The first time I saw the film, I feel asleep and was very confused when I woke up. I was vaguely dissatisfied about the whole thing.

But then I just watched it again. I really liked it this time around. I think it's a great coming-of-age story. I love PSH's line: "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." And I enjoyed Kate's performance--her best in my opinion.

jimmy said...

thank goodness flash-in-the-pan Kate Hudson did not win an oscar (even though she was pretty good). she has proven herself to be enormously untalented.

par3182 said...

this is the movie that marked the beginning of the end of cinema going for me

not because of the movie, but because i yelled at a woman sitting behind me who talked all the way through it

due to the ensuing fracas i never knew how the movie ended until i saw it on tv years later


that being said, it introduced me to zooey deschanel and for that i am forever grateful

Rob T. said...

Count me among the groupies. I first saw Almost Famous at a second-run "dollar theater", and it joined my all-time favorite movies during the scene when the main character discovers his sister's record collection. As a music nut of long standing--and one who came of age at the tail end of the "classic rock" era, at that--that scene was just magic to me. (Not that the rest of the movie wasn't fine too, but it wouldn't have meant so much to me if that one scene hadn't touched my soul first.)

vatz said...

Didn't get it. Haven't watched it in ten years. Why was Hudson nominated exactly?

I remember it got the pre-release buzz that The Social Network is getting. That I can remember.

I do love the moment when Frances McDormand tells her sons to fold his bills with the 1's on the outside in order of denomination. I had already been doing that.

vatz said...

Didn't get it. Haven't watched it in ten years. Why was Hudson nominated exactly?

I remember it got the pre-release buzz that The Social Network is getting. That I can remember.

I do love the moment when Frances McDormand tells her sons to fold his bills with the 1's on the outside in order of denomination. I had already been doing that.

Seeking Amy said...

Loooooove Almost Famous. Maybe a part of my love is because I saw it for the first time freshman year of high school, or maybe it was 8th grade? I think I was sold on that moment when Zooey Deschanel says "One day...you'll be cool." At that time every kid wants to be "cool" but when realize what she truly means, coming into your own self is how it seals the deal. And it doesn't ring false or glib in any sense to me. There is a sense of nostalgia, but it's not overwhelmingly so and I don't have a problem with that.

As for Kate Hudson, I think she's been unfairly dismissed because of her career after that. Yes she hasn't done much noteworthy after this, but her presence and naivety are truly moving here. That truly heartbreaking and honest reading of "Why doesn't he love me?" is the cherry on top of the performance for me.

That said, I do wonder what Sarah Polley would have been like in the role.

Ryan T. said...

I still haven't seen it. I really should sometime...

Robert said...

I think it's the nostalgia factor. It seems people respond well when a director successfully captures something and it translates well. In this case the music played a key part. People always talk about the part on the bus where they sing "Tiny Dancer." A lot of people seemed to connect with a musical moment like that. And Kate says "you are home" or something like that. I saw it when it came out, i was 15 and it was kind of a fun look into something real from this guys life. I haven't seen it since then and I wonder what I would think now...

MRRIPLEY said...

I only remeber the line readings "what kind of beer" and "is this this marianne with the pot"

cal roth said...

Not a groupie, but why the hell din't Hudson win the Oscar? She was pure magic, no matter what she's done later. So, why?

Oh, I remember: category fraud. It was not a borderline performance. No, it was clearly a big fat leading role (MGH was brilliant, anyway).

Dan said...

...now I feel old.

But it's a really great film - love Crowe's choice of music and his wife's score.

E Dot said...

We. Are not. Groupies. Groupies sleep with rockstars because they want to be around someone famous. We... are here for the music. We... are band-aids.

Movies with Abe said...

I've seen it multiple times, but not for a number of years now. I just remember being completely swept away by the subdued energy projected by the film, and Kate Hudson's performance in particular drew me in.

Volvagia said...

Yeah, she is the lead. And I really doubt any of the major performances are "the best" of the year. (Although I'd place an amazing eight among the top five of the year in my three brackets of acting categories. Fugit: Lead Actor, Hudson: Lead Actress, Hoffman: supporting actor, Deschanel and McDormand: supporting actress, Baruchel and Fallon: Tertiary Actor, Fairuza Balk: Tertiary Actress.) The movie: Oh yeah, Best Film, Script and Director of the year. The performances: A LOT of nominations, but only wins for Balk and Fallon in the lowest bracket of screen time. Each gets <5% of the screen time.

Amanda said...

I was really young when I watched it and it didn't make such an impression on me- and I LOVE that period of history and I hev always been obsessed with Led Zepplin- still am up to this day.

I just can't stand Kate Hudson. It gets to a point that I can't enjoy anything she is in. I don't feel motivated to give money to her movies. Maybe it had something to do with it.

Zooey looked quite different back then. I spot a nose job. Is there anyone in Hollywood who has their natural, original, nature given nose?

Dorian said...

"Almost Famous" was wonderful. It's one of my favorite films of the aughts. It should have been nodded for best picture too. "Chocolat" my ass. I never get tired of watching this film. Great script from Cameron Crowe, and Kate Hudson's best performance to date (sad that it seems like she'll never top Penny Lane). I love this film! And I'm officially old now too. :(

NATHANIEL R said...

my thing with Kate Hudson in this film (and i did nominate her for my own awards but later regretted it) is that i feel like the magic of the performance is entirely external. She's getting so much help from the directing choices, the lighting, the costumes. Everything is there specifically to make you fall for her and i think you do this only in small part because of Hudson. I think you take her out and put another actress in and you get the same movie/effect.

so i'm not a believer though I think she's a better actor than some people think (given the amount of hate that gets hurled her way)

Movies with Abe said...

It was nice to see her in "Nine," and though that film faltered well before the Oscars, she didn't really receive much commendation at all for her superb song performance.

Regarding lighting and other aspects enhancing a performance, I'd say that's definitely true for someone like Freida Pinto in "Slumdog Millionaire," who I nominated for my awards and then later saw the film again and noticed there wasn't nearly as much there as I had thought. Hudson's performance, I think, was deeper, and part of it has to do with the way she speaks and the way she looks. She's able to seduce both the characters in the film and the audience, and aesthetics can only help so much with that. Part of it has to be talent, right?

Michael W. said...

A wonderful, wonderful film. The best of the year 2000. Hands down.

I saw it twice - on the same day - at the cinema!

That's how much I feel in love with it immediately.

cal roth said...

Oh, Volvagia. I meant MGH won for a big fat leading role, not Hudson. Hudson lost because people voted for a performance nominated in the wrong category.

Hudson is supporting, no doubt.

Pope said...

I own this movie. Love it. However, I agree that there are people who REALLY love this movie and it is highly regarded all around the board which I dont get. I thought it was quite enjoyable and well written, but I never "got it."

David said...

The reason I love this movie is because it's a love letter to all of the music and the nostalgia surrounding the music I know and love so well. I've always been a Led Zeppelin/Beatles/Dylan/Hendrix kinda guy, so of course I'm going to love something that immortalizes and idealizes that whole era, especially when it's written from the perspective of a die-hard fan (just like me!). I especially love the scene where everyone joins together in singing Tiny Dancer. I can't even tell you how many times that's happened among my group of neo-hippy best friends. I think it's not great because it's overly nostalgic, but it's the kind of great that makes you forget about whether or not it's technically good. And Frances McDormand is the shit.

Bailey said...

I definitely have a certain fondness for the classic rock in the film, having grown up with total hippy biker parents, but I was still total eh on this movie. Didn't get the love, and was not aware Kate Hudson was supposed to be something special until afterward when everybody raved and raved and raved about her. I agree, it seemed like the kind of part that anybody with an ounce of likability could portray (although perhaps that IS a testament to KHud's 'talent,' given how much of an unlikable turd she has proven herself to be since then. I believe it was Nathaniel who asked why people throw so much hate her way - it isn't because she's the most awful actress to ever live, it's that she's proven herself to be blah and not worthwhile over and over again, and, let's face it - only has a career because her mother is Goldie Hawn. That Hollywood nepotism is hardly every worthwhile. These are the people who tried to foist Rumer Willis, Mamie Gummer, and Hailey Duff on us. And now the prepubescent Pinkett-Smith children. Come on now. That's annoying. Occasionally an Eva Amurri will come along and show some talent, but that's far more the exception than the rule. And yes, the loathsome KHud belongs in that category. I dare say people might actually like her more were she not celebrity spawn.)

Allison said...

This has been my favorite movie for 10 years - I never get tired of it - I have the DVD (Directors cut) and I have it on my Ipod. I think it's appeal is a combination of the characters, the music and the time in which it was placed - I remember those times when Rock -n- Roll was all that mattered and everyone wanted to be in a rock band and be around rock stars.
We all read Circus, Creem and Rolling Stone magazine and we could'nt get enough. We admired these people and we all wore the clothes - the girls from 8th to 12th grade all dressed like that - the post 60's hippie chick look. I still love that look.
Cameron Crowe nailed that time.
All the actors were great and how about Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs..just awesome.
The music that came fom that era still rules today.