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William Miller is a 15-year-old kid hired by Rolling Stone magazine to tour with and write about Stillwater, an up and coming rock band. This wonderfully witty coming-of-age film follows William as he falls face first to confront life, love, and lingo. Written by
"Almost famous" is so great that I don't know where to begin. It means so much to me; personally, cinematographically, visually It means so much when it comes to acting and wonderful performances, when it comes to fantastic original screenplays that come from a person's mind without being taken from anything we already know.
This was probably one of the first movies to ever blow me away. When I was getting and idea of what cinema meant and which where the good films; this one left me impressed for more than a week. The same occurred later with "Traffic", "The Truman Show", "Big Fish" and others. It was with this film that I understood that to like a movie it has to mean something to you; besides meaning something for the ones who did it or the ones involved in it.
It meant something for me mainly because of the music. It was during the main credits written by hand in a paper that I felt something, but then, when William's (Patrick Fugit) sister Anita (Zooey Deschanel) leaves the house to become a stewardess, and tells him: "Look under your bed; it will set you free"; I was introduced to a new world.
William's mother Elaine (an excellent Frances McDormand) raised him and her sister forbidding them to use bad words, making them go to school, making them religious, but most importantly not letting them listen to rock music. This all changes when William plays The Who's "Tommy" a the light of a candle. Some years later he is writing rock articles and he knows enough to talk with the best music critic in the United States: Lester Bangs (a brilliant and Oscar-caliber supporting performance by the great Phillip Seymour Hoffman).
They talk for a while and the critic says: "Well, I've got to go; I can't spend my whole day talking to my fans". But then, with a lot of intelligence, a camera shoots a restaurant, and they are both still talking. Bangs gives the kid an assignment: to write about Deep Purple. The kid goes to the concert in his home town and tries to enter backstage saying he's a reporter of "Creem".
His multiple attempts fail and he is called by some girls who are laughing constantly. These are the Band Aids, and that is the moment in the film during which I fell in love with Kate Hudson. She plays Penny Lane (although that's not her real name), the girl who said women should be with musicians just for the love of the music, not sex or free rides.
She plays her as an enigmatic and mysterious person who actually is lost and doesn't know or have another place to be in. And I'm talking, personally, about one of the best performances I've witnessed in my whole life. This personal list of best performances is short, and Hudson's Penny Lane is in it, and she deserved an Oscar for it; and many will agree.
Because of how life goes, William stays alone outside Until Stillwater arrives, the kid uses his musical knowledge and he is inside backstage before he knows it. Then, before we know, he forgets about Deep Purple, he is touring with Stillwater and writing an article for Rolling Stone magazine that could be considered for the cover; and William is only 15 years old.
During the tour I felt what they called the "buzz". It was very inspiring to watch the band, each of its members, all the time with a guitar in their hands. Sometimes they were playing together; sometimes each of them was doing his own things. There were pianos and keyboards in each room they stepped foot in; there were good and bad live moments, just as good offstage moments and horrible fights; probably mended with just singing "Tiny Dancer".
Music is the main factor, as this band travels through the country. All of the members of the band we get to identify, but the one that obligatorily highlights is the guitarist Russell Hammond, played superbly by Billy Crudup. The lead singer is also important and he is played by a long-haired Jason Lee, with the guts of a rock persona.
The regretful moments we can't be without...Like Russell's party in Topeka and his last lines if he would die: "I'm on drugs"; or the plain about to crash and confessions like: "I'm gay". This was all perfectly crafted by the hand of Cameron Crowe's peaceful camera and the fantastic screenplay he wrote going back in time to his own similar experience. The man got the best from Tom Cruise, that's already a lot: and "Almost Famous" is his legacy; a gem and one of the best films I've seen in my life.
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