Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Scene Stealer: Almost Famous

Almost Famous is on my list of great films that I can watch again and again. The superb ensemble cast, the awesome soundtrack and the beautifully penned script by Cameron Crowe are a perfect combination. I can’t say enough about the cast. It’s an incredible group and, to me, every actor seems made for the role that they play. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Frances McDormand are utterly fantastic; Patrick Fugit is likeable and absolutely charming; Kate Hudson is positively luminous in what is undoubtedly the best role of her career, and Billy Crudup and Jason Lee simply rock in their roles as rock stars.

The characters and the story are what I love most about the film. The script is ripe with funny bits, touching insights and honest human experiences and emotions. It’s so rich in character. They’re complex and honest and the experiences they have and the journey that they embark upon together is so smartly and touchingly rendered by Crowe’s writing and direction. It feels as you watch the film that you’re perhaps watching a documentary cataloguing the real lives and real experiences of real people (maybe in part due to the fact that the script is semi-autobiographical and is loosely focused on Crowe’s early days as a music journalist and associate editor for Rolling Stone magazine.)

One of my favourite scenes in the film is when rock band Stillwater is flying high over Tupelo, Mississippi with William Miller (Patrick Fugit) – a teenage aspiring rock journalist trying to get his first cover story for Rolling Stone written – in tow. Their plane gets caught in a terrible electrical storm and loses altitude. Convinced the plane is about to go down and they’re all going to die, the band members and their manager start confessing their darkest secrets and sharing their true feelings. Confessions come pouring out, some threatening to damage reputations and relationships forever. The cabin is wracked by turbulence and the group is certain it’s all over when the plane stabilizes. The pilot yells, “We’re alive, we’re going to make it! Sweet relief!” Sweet relief it isn’t for the band members and their manager who wish they’d just died after unloading their darkest secrets to each other. I love this scene because it’s one of many in the film that showcases the brilliance of character that the film underscores so beautifully. It’s character-driven, well-written and funny, and so perfectly played by all involved in the scene. It leads to the great moment in the film where, completely spent, exhausted and resigned, Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup), Stillwater’s lead singer tells William, “Write what you want.”


13 comments:

  1. Ahh... truly love this film. And yes, the cast is great. Heck, even Jimmy Fallon gives a good performance. All fun to see a young Zooey Deschanel, Jay Baruchel, and Anna Paquin. Zooey especially seems so much different back then...

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    1. The film is great and the cast is incredible. It is fun to see early performances from stars who've grown more well-known and popular since then like Zooey Deschanel and Anna Paquin. It also reminds me about the kind of acting certain other actors are capable of, like Kate Hudson and Jason Lee, who went from this great film to mediocre flops.

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  2. Oh Lordy - to choose just one scene to encapsulate my favorite movie? This wouldn't be my choice, but it's a worthy contender.

    My two favorite moments within the scene are, first of all, the throwaway start to the whole incident when Russell sings a few lines of "Peggy Sue". Ya gotta love someone who reminds everyone on a plane having turbulence trouble about another plane full of rock stars that went down.

    Of course beating that handily is Ed's declaration just before the hydraulics kick back in...which are his only four spoken words in thew movie. Genius!

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    1. I almost didn't go with this film for this week's scene stealer piece because it was so hard to pick just one scene! Agreed - the film is full of so many wonderful moments. Who could forget Lester Bangs talking to William on the phone, or Frances McDormand saying, "Don't do drugs!", or the band and groupies singing 'Tiny Dancer' on the bus. Too many to choose from, but alas, I picked one among my faves.

      Ed's declaration is great! Such a funny moment.

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  3. Phips1:16 pm

    I LOVE Almost Famous. Everything you wrote is accurate...god, Kate Hudson is so good in this. Her only good role.

    My scene stealer would've been the Tiny Dancer sing-along. That is my fav. scene in the movie and its just so awesome. It basically breaks down the point of the movie into simple terms: Music has the power to remedy any situation, regardless of the intensity.

    But the plane scene is great as well.

    God, I need to rewatch this ASAP.

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    1. I'm not sure what happened to Kate Hudson after this film, or more accurately, what happened to her ability to pick good films.

      I almost went with the Tiny Dancer sing-a-long. It's another great scene. You make a really great point about what that scene conveys - the power of music to remedy any situation. I need to re-watch this ASAP too!

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  4. Definitely one of my all-time favorite films ever.

    I really need to see it again. I'm also interested in the extended director's cut of the film.

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    1. It's one of my faves too.
      I also haven't seen the extended director's cut. I'll have to grab that one.

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  5. Freaky this was in the back of Empire recently. I am a rare person who found this film underwheling. But the plane scene was definitely the highlight! Nice choice!

    Also don't know if you've done the 7 x 7 award, but I've put you up for it!

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    1. we have not got around to doing the 7 x 7 yet but we have not forgotten about it.

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