Having come across Kate Hudson in last week’s Deepwater Horizon Phil’s retro movie this week is Almost Famous (2000) A semi-autobigraphical movie written and directed by Crowe, who based it on his experiences as a teenage writer for Rolling Stone magazine. It starred Hudson, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand and Patrick Fujit.
It’s 1969 and Fujit plays child prodigy William Miller, a misfit at school, and with a bonkers mother (McDormand) a professor who has led Billy to believe he’s 12 yrs old when he’s actually 11. She has banned rock music and pop culture in the house believing it has a negative effect on children, and her high handedness leads Billy’s sister Anita (Zooey Deschanel) to leave home and become an air stewardess. She leaves Billy her collection of rock music albums.
On to 1973 and influenced by the music Anita left him, 15yr old Billy aspires to be a rock-music journalist and writes papers for underground magazines. He is offered $35 by rock journalist Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to review a Black Sabbath Concert, and from this point on Billy ends up writing for Rolling Stone (who don’t know how old he is).
Based on Crowes experiences on tour with Led Zeppelin, Poco, The Eagles, Lynrd Skynrd, The Allman Brothers etc where he lost his virginity, fell in love, and met his musical hero’s, Billy’s journey takes him on tour with a band called Stillwater, and the accompanying ‘band aids’, a euphemism for groupies, led by Penny Lane, (Hudson) and incorporating Anna Paquin as Polexia Aphrodisia (based on real life Penny Lane Trumball and her group of female promoters who called themselves the “Flying Garter Girls Group”).
We’ve seen this movie a few times now, and it never gets old or disappoints. There’s actually very little rock music in it, as it’s all about the characters. The tensions in the band between the lead guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) and the lead singer, Jeff Bebe (Jason Lee), the relationships between Penny and Russell, Penny and Billy, Billy and Russell.. It’s expansive, it’s funny, it’s sad, it’s hopeful and it’s one of our favourite movies ever.
This will appeal to you if you were into music as a teenager, especially in the 70’s, and a true fan of any band, if you are nostalgic for going to gigs, reading the music press, sticking posters of your favourite band/singer on the wall, if you’re a parent of a teenager, if you were in a band in your younger years. Hudson is smart and sexy in Penny’s skin, Fujit is spot on as a clever but awkward teenager, finding his way through the highs and lows of being on the road. Crudup embodies the part of a rock god sometimes on, sometimes off the rails. Frances McDormand was great as the overbearing mother untying her apron strings, a small part she doesn’t over-egg. Seymour Hoffman also has a small but impactful part as the jaded rock musician.
Fraggle Rating: A complete joy of a movie, bloody brilliant.
This is the last Monday Movie post for the forseeable future, I have a few things going on I need to give more time to, so this is one of the things that has to give way for now. I hope those of you who read some of my posts went on to see and enjoy some of the movies I wrote about, or at least enjoyed reading about them.