OK, I really love movies....or if you are a snob....film. So, from time to time I will be reviewing movies that I like in hopes that I can turn someone else on to a film that perhaps they may not have seen. I'm also a strong proponent of blu-ray. If you have an HDTV and you are NOT watching your movies on a blu-ray player, you are selling your television and your own senses short.
"Almost Famous" is a coming of age film. Cameron Crowe wrote and directed this masterpiece. Most of the film is based on things that happened to Crowe as a youth. Crowe was writing for rock magazines such as Cream and Rolling Stone. So, when it comes to doing a film about a mid-major rock and roll band trying to climb the ladder of success, he was in his comfort zone.
"Almost Famous" begins with young William Miller watching his older sister and mother at odds with one another over how the teenage girls life should be lived. William is kind of indifferent until he finds out that he is younger....much younger than all the other kids he goes to school with. He uses this as leverage for getting what he wants as he gets older. And what William wants to do is be a writer. And he wants to write about rock and roll.
William meets Cream magazine editor Lester Bangs and garners a writing assignment on Black Sabbath. At the show, he meets up with the opening act, Stillwater, and from there his life changes. Rolling Stone gives him a call, under the impression that this kid is a savvy and experienced adult rock critic. Sight unseen, they send young William out on the road with Stillwater and from there, the film takes off. William is exposed to a world that he has always been protected from. Drugs, alcohol, sex, and true friendship. A groupie.....errr...."band aide" (named Penny Lane) for Stillwater takes William under her wing (although she is roughly the same age) and teaches him the ropes. What he finds is that it's not all fun and glamour. He sees human nature at work. He is befriended, betrayed, loved, and used by the members of the band, for the furthering of their own careers.
In the end, of course, things work out for Crowe.....I mean, William Miller. But what we found out along with him, is that rock and roll can be a dirty business. The kid comes out of the experience world weary, but with open eyes. He was a fan and he became the enemy. Being honest about what you see and experience is what separates the critic from the artist.
"Almost Famous" has a cast full of stars and great character actors that anyone who owns a TV or a DVD player will recognize. Actors like Jason Lee, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup (no, he is not blue and does not show his penis), Patrick Fugite, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Zooey Deschanel, are all at the top of their game, as well as Jimmy Fallon as a fast talking super agent. Also look for brief appearances by Mitch Hedberg, Jay Baruchel, Jann Wenner, and rock great Peter Frampton. Really, this is a top notch cast.
Cameron Crowe has also written and or directed other great films, such as; Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Vanilla Sky, Jerry Maguire and Elizabethtown. Crowe's wife happens to be Nancy Wilson (from Heart), and she helps out with the writing and production of the original music.
The DVD has been out for years and the blu-ray disc is coming. The blu-ray version is available only in the United Kingdom right now, but can be found on the web at various sites if you are interested. The blu-ray picture is an upgrade over the standard DVD and it features TrueHD 5.1 surround sound.
If you have not seen this movie, you should go rent it, or better yet, buy it. It stands up to repeated viewing and has a kick ass soundtrack that includes Yes, Elton John, Simon & Garfunkel, The Who, Black Sabbath, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin and many other rock and roll legends! Treat yourself to one of the great films about the rock and roll lifestyle.
If you are interested, take a look at these links;
"Fever dog. Scratching at my back door."
"Fever Dog" by Stillwater