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Friday, September 17, 2021

Hollywood Rewind | Almost Famous: Of rock bands, music journalism and chasing dreams

Cameron Crowe directorial Almost Famous is not only a music film, it is a coming-of-age movie too. Equal parts entertaining and heartwarming, Almost Famous is a treasure trove for both cinephiles and music lovers.

Written by Anvita Singh | New Delhi |
August 29, 2021 8:27:31 am
hollywood rewindAlmost Famous was helmed by Cameron Crowe. (Photo: DreamWorks Pictures)

There are many movies on rock stars and famous people. But what about a fictional band that is about to take over the music world, with a teenage rock journalist in tow? Almost Famous is about Stillwater, one such band that has its lead guitarist and lead vocalist’s animosity brewing in the shadows, and its own band of groupies. Almost Famous has all the makings of a stereotypical rock band movie, but what sets it apart is our protagonist — William Miller (a wonderful Patrick Fugit), all of 15, son to a strict professor (Frances McDormand), who doesn’t want any pop culture influencing her children.

As a result of the overbearing ways of their mother, William’s 18-year-old sister Anita takes off one day to become a flight attendant, and he inherits her secret stack of music tapes and vinyls featuring well-known and influential artistes. And just like that, William decides to become a rock journalist. His fate completely changes when he runs into the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character Lester Bangs. A journalist himself, Bangs offers William his first assignment — to review a Black Sabbath concert. Soon, William makes contact with the Rolling Stone magazine, who ask him to go on a tour with Stillwater and cover them for an upcoming feature. Chaos, drama, and romance follow.

Watching Almost Famous is akin to watching a cube of warm butter on a crispy, toasted piece of bread. Despite all the raging hormones of its characters, the film left me feeling nostalgic, and comforted. The pursuing of dreams, and falling hard for someone for the first time and experiencing heartbreak are universal emotions, which usually all people experience at some level. What certainly adds to the charm of Almost Famous is its sharp dialogues, convincing performances (especially by a standout Kate Hudson as Penny Lane), and a sublime soundtrack to go with it all.

Hollywood Rewind: Inglourious Basterds | Beginners | Girl With a Pearl Earring | Juno | Nightcrawler | Little Miss Sunshine | Moana | The Sound of Music | Benny and Joon | Crimson Peak | The Holiday | My Blueberry Nights | The Help | Mission Impossible | Chef | Revolutionary Road | I’m Not There | Donnie Brasco | Sicario | Edge of Tomorrow | Spy Kids | 1998’s Godzilla | The Others | Phone Booth | Wild | Scream | The Godfather Part II | One Fine Day | True Romance | Little Women | Face-off | Pulp Fiction | Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon | The Age of Innocence | Mean Girls | Die HardNever Been Kissed | Citizen Kane | Kill Bill Volume I | Terminator 2 Judgment Day | Titanic | Heat | Home Alone | Jerry Maguire | Brief Encounter | The Truman Show | The Deer Hunter | The Shining | Clueless | Ferris Bueller’s Day Off | Blue Velvet | Taxi Driver | The Lord of the Rings I | Zero Dark Thirty | The Godfather | Say Anything | Warm Bodies | Bright Star | Malcolm X | Stardust | Red Eye | Notting Hill | FargoThe Virgin Suicides | The Breakfast Club | Enchanted | Walk the Line | Blood Diamond | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | Mortal Kombat | Bridges of Madison County | Edward Scissorhands | Breakfast at Tiffany’s | She’s Gotta Have It | Ever After | The Devil Wears Prada | The Matrix | Creed | Mulan | Ratatouille | Shutter Island | Her | Dead Poets Society | Sleepless in Seattle | Waitress | Pride and Prejudice | The Dark Knight | Before Sunset | School of Rock | About a Boy | A Few Good Men | 50/50 | Begin Again | Brooklyn | Drive | Chocolat | Batman Begins | 10 Things I Hate About You | The Departed | Freedom Writers | Pretty Woman | Dan in Real Life | Jurassic Park | TangledMeet Joe Black | Monster’s Ball | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | You’ve Got Mail | Half Nelson | Fight Club | Doubt | American Psycho | Julie and Julia | Forrest Gump | The Silence of the Lambs | Finding Neverland | Roman Holiday| American History X | Tropic Thunder | Before Sunrise | Scent of a Woman | Finding Forrester | Sixteen Candles

One interesting trivia for the cinephiles is that Almost Famous is partly autobiographical. Yes, as it turns out, filmmaker Cameron Crowe had covered and travelled with famous rock bands of the time, including the likes of Eagles, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd when he himself was only 16. “I always used to hear, ‘We don’t ever get interviewed by people your age.’ Really, I always felt like as a journalist, I got a seat in the front row, and I wanted to serve all the people like me that wanted to be in the front row. I wanted to be a fly on the wall and bring that experience back to the fans and followers of the bands I was writing about,” the acclaimed writer-director had said in an interview with the Rolling Stone while celebrating Almost Famous’ 20 year-anniversary last year. And that Crowe did, and how.

You can stream Almost Famous on Netflix. 

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