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Almost Famous

Afcast2 It was another pathetic Saturday night, so I dug around my DVD collection and my eyes fixed on the Almost Famous DVD. Again? I’ve watched it for like the hundrenth time, but why not? It’s been awhile, and I kinda “forget” the story.

So I watched it again, Untitled The Bootleg Cut, from the torch light of the Tristar lady until the end of the credit title, and finally the player hit stop. It wasn’t suprising why I got hooked since day one on this work by Cameron Crowe. You see, I’m not the kind who cares much for film directors and their works, but this, this is something I applauded in earnest. Cameron Crowe brought out all his guts to write, produce, and direct this movie. He wore his heart on a sleeve, so they say, and it showed.

William Miller is a genius/sweet boy in the 70’s who’s got an assignment to write for The Rolling Stone about an up-and-coming rock band, Stillwater. He signed up for a few days on the roadtrip, but somehow found himself riding the bus across America with the band, during which he lost his virginity, his innocence, and fell in love with one self-named Penny Lane, a groupie, of course, albeit “retired”, who always defined herself and the others as Band Aids—“A groupie sleeps with rockstars because they’re famous. A band aid is here for the music”—and always found a meaningful role in the almost meaningless surrounding.

What I love so much about Almost Famous?

When everyone on the bus sang Tiny Dancer, after a tense night between Jeff Bebe and Russell Hammond. One by one, from Larry the bass player to Russell who’d been on acid all night, they sang and melted the tension away. William said to Penny, “I have to go home.” Between the song, magically, enchantingly, her hand splayed in front of his face as if putting him under a spell, she answered, “You are home.”

When Penny Lane explained her philosophy: “I always tell the girls, never take it seriously, if ya never take it seriously, ya never get hurt, ya never get hurt, ya always have fun, and if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends.”

When Penny and William went into the band’s hotel room in San Francisco, she with her trusty, unmistakably portrayal of a stewardess, seizing all attention of everyone in the room, suck up all flimsy attempts to be blazing meteors. The phrase, “I need ice,” as a signal to Russell, who then abruptly abondoned his guitar and left the room to follow her. The tinkling of ice being thrown one by one into the glass by Russell while describing Penny Lane. “I could go on forever but I run out of ice,” he ended. Penny said, “Damn.”

Almostfamousstage When the band played Fever Dog, and Penny and William stood by the stage, her body swayed, her blonde curls bobbed along the rythm, her white eyelet midriff tanktop. The beating drums at the beginning of the song. Everything. I wish Stillwater was a real band. I woulda love to see them perform Love Thing at a concert.

When William tried to shove some sense into the fabulous head of Penny Lane, “Somebody (Russell) who sold you to Humble Pie for fifty bucks and a case of beer!” The silence, the brave smile, the single tear that she wiped ever so gently, and the emotion when she asked, “What kind of beer?” I think, this single scene had got her into the list of Best Actress nomination for Oscar in 2001(?).

What about the other casts? Russell Hammond was so believable, perplexing yet vulnerable. Jeff Bebe was so wound up with his jealousy of Russell’s charismatic persona, regardless of their mutual feelings and respects for each other. Elaine Miller, William’s mother, played by the brilliant Frances McDormand, oh she’s remarkable—she freaked out everybody who unfortunately got in her line of fire to protect her only son. The Band Aids; Polexia, Estrella, Sapphire… The chemistry worked brilliantly, and it all captured to make one hell of a semi-autobiography of Cameron Crowe.

And the soundtracks. Oh! The fans of 70’s classic rock bands will be thrilled. I was thrilled, and I wasn’t so keen on classic rock bands. From the moment America played out, to the I’ve Seen All Good People, until Tangerine near the end and that song by The Beach Boys during the credit title… and not forgetting Mona Lisas and Madhatters that I’ve searched around on the net, when William run to rescue Penny from the deadly stare of Leslie, Russell’s on-and-off girlfriend, and the deadly grip of Qualludes.

You think I’m done? Not in the least. But I won’t go ruining all the fun. This is not a dark rock and roll story, yet it’s not frothy either. This movie is beautiful, moving, sad, playful, fun, with great scenario, good story, strong casts, fabulous clothes (important!), and satisfying soundtracks. I was so giddy I hug myself.

Moral of the story: Mom doesn’t always know best, but she loves you all the same. If you value your friendship, “be honest and unmerciful”. Don’t go looking for love where it’s not there. And find it in yourself before you find a one-way ticket to Morocco.

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