A movie called ALMOST FAMOUS is just now over. I'm in awe. Went into anticipating something of a Hollywood teen romance, which it was, taken to its ultimate simplification. I wondered why I'd put it on the netflix Q. Thought I'd play it out to see what happens, reminding myself that I have control, I can turn it off if it becomes a waste of time and attention. It pulled me in immediately and held my interest to the very last moment. Right away I was seeing a good director behind it, a good eye in the photography, good script written by the director, Cameron Crowe. The story was a 15 year old boy who wrote articles for rock magazines that were accepted and printed. When he meets the editor of Creem magazine in the early 70s, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Hoffman notes his honesty, his good writing, and gives him sound advice about dealing with rock bands, such sage advice as don't think you are their friend. The chicks and all that go with it are not your friends. He stressed the importance of not entertaining the illusion of friendship, because that's not what it is. The boy attempting to get backstage for an interview with Black Sabbath, the doorman would not let him in. The opening band, Stillwater, arrived by bus and they took him in with them.
patrick fugit and kate hudson
The story follows him going against his controlling mother's will and he becomes trusted somewhat by the band, though they called him The Enemy, meaning they did not trust him. He met a girl who called herself Penny Lane. She was a fan of the band. They connected right away. At one moment in their relationship, we got a closeup of her eyes, then a closeup of his eyes, and they were the same eyes. I felt like that was indicating something like a twin-souls kind of relationship. They were drawn to each other on sight, and they fell in love in their own ways. One of the aspects of the story I liked best was that nobody became something other than what or who they were. Their destinies did not change as a result of their time together, while at the same time changed drastically. Each of them came face to face with themselves and found themselves in the course of the story. By each of them I mean the boy, the girl and one of the rock stars played by Billy Crudup. In the band, the boy was thought of as "real," because he was truly himself in a world of people attempting to be something other than who they are. People in the story were all attempting to be cool. The boy, played by Patrick Fugit, starts off knowing he is not cool, so he doesn't have that inner tension of posing in everything he does. The girl, played by Kate Hudson, makes what I'm already thinking is an unforgettable character I'll never forget. Blue sunglasses will always bring her to mind.
It turned out to be these three people in particular, and others around them, living fake lives to some degree, attempting to be what they are not, trying to act like they think rock stars oughta act, sometimes feeling explosive from being disconnected from who they really see themselves as, rock star wannabes, just a bunch of dysfunctional guys. They can't help but like the young journalist for his guileless character. They give him interviews, encourage his writing, while at the same time ,apprehensive of what he might write. One of them asked him, almost on bended knee, to make them look cool. That was the only thing important. The film felt like what being on the road with a band might be like. The bus, the shows, the groupies, the fans, management, all that goes with a band on the rise. The story is the boy's story, almost like he's narrating it, thought not. He is the character with enough detachment to see clearly without being caught up in the illusion of stardom. He was something of an objective observer, though subjective too. It's his story. It's a coming of age story in which a fifteen year old boy took a giant leap in his self-realization and it worked. At end of story, he needed to flop face down on his bed at home and sleep. It is a particularly American story with characters American as we are. It brings to mind Russell Banks' novel, Rule Of The Bone.
the band and groupies
The drama was intense throughout. First, it was tensions with a super-controlling mother played by the woman who was sheriff in Fargo, which tension followed him throughout the story wanting him to call her every day, and she magnified in her mind what she imagined he was getting into. She worried throughout, while the boy worried about her from afar, at the same time that he's worrying about all the drama going on around him that was involving him, like he flipped a switch one day and his world changed overnight into something he never saw coming, while it was what he wanted for himself. One theme that ran through the film was each of the people involved in the story comes to terms with his/her own true self that is hidden away under layers of coolness and wanting to be what they were not. The boy's presence acted as a catalyst for each of the guys in the band to dip into their true selves and take a look at their lives. It didn't change their direction, but it brought them closer together as a band, getting the superficial self-images out of the way long enough to get a perspective of themselves in relation to each other. The girls found their real selves too. It didn't change them away from their lives, but gave them enough self-reflection to come out of the experience feeling good about themselves within. It wasn't like big dramatic ending of breaking into song with the sound of music. Every one of the characters seemed to get it, whatever it was for each one of them to get, in their own interior ways. The satisfaction at the end was that everyone concerned went "home" within themselves as a result of the experience they shared. I will want to see this one again.