Nov 4, 2010

Movie Review #1 - Almost Famous (2000)

Hey everyone!
This is my first entry on my newly created blog "Nick Plus Movies".
I thought I'd post my most recent review that I posted on, so please read and let me know what you think of it!
- Nick L.

"It's all happening!"
A couple days ago, I finally decided to watch "Almost Famous". And I couldn't have chosen a better time to see it. Just like the film's protagonist, I'm growing up and struggling to discover my true identity. I'm in need of a life-changing experience similar to his in order to find myself.

Out of all the films I've seen in the past while, this is the one that really stands out, soaring above every other. Why is that? It's because, for once, I can personally relate to the story. "Almost Famous" has rightfully earned its spot in my book as "one of my personal favorites".

A semi-autobiographical take on director Cameron Crowe's adolescence, the story centers on William Miller (Patrick Fugit), an intelligent and ambitious 15-year-old growing up in the early 70s with a great passion for music (particularly classic rock). Living with none other than his loving but imposing mother (Frances McDormand), he feels tied down to the boundaries and limits she sets, and always feels that he must remain loyal to her. However, things change when he gets hired by Rolling Stone Magazine to tour with and write about an up-and-coming rock band named "Stillwater" (a fictitious band). He embarks on a coming-of-age journey where he is finally able to come face to face with life and love while finding his place in the world.

I can relate to William Miller in so many ways that I was seeing myself in him as I was watching the film. I, too, feel that my parents expect way too much from what I will become, and that their presence is often confining and overbearing. I feel that I need to escape for a while, and get a taste of life. Also, William and I both have trouble connecting to our peers. We both belong somewhere else, with different people, but the only difference is that I have yet to find out where that might be. Like him, I have a reputation for being the "studious" or "academic" type (though I'm actually quite lazy when it comes to school work), and I also desire true love, being the sensitive and passionate creature that I am. While William is in love with music, I'm rather in love with film. This film reminded me that I must follow my dreams and hold onto my passion if I want to become a truly fulfilled human being.

I love this film for its nostalgic value. Even though I haven't lived through the era explored in the film, it felt as though I have. It felt like my memories of long ago were being unearthed and I was falling in love with that time period again. This was no doubt due to the film's genuine reconstruction of the 70s. With one of the best soundtracks of all time (this film got me back into classic rock, especially Elton John and Led Zeppelin), time-appropriate sets, stylish costumes, and interesting characters, I could've sworn that I had traveled in time back to the "rockin' 70s". What a nostalgic breath of fresh air! It just makes me wish I would've lived back then even more...

Next to American Beauty, this film has the greatest ensemble cast ever. There were so many great performances in this film by so many familiar and unfamiliar faces, but I'm only going to name the ones that shone the brightest for me. Patrick Fugit has a phenomenal breakout performance in the lead role of William Miller. It's a shame that he hasn't been in much in the past decade. If I would've seen this film the year it was released, I would've thought "this kid has a successful career ahead of him". I'm hoping that he gets a good role in a good film sometime soon. Next in line is the actress that plays Penny Lane, the iconic character on the film's poster and DVD cover. Kate Hudson is incredible as the mildly-eccentric, lovable girl with a big personality. I am quite glad that she snagged an Academy Award nomination for her wonderful performance. The only 
other actor who did the same is the magnificent Frances McDormand. I loved her in Fargo, and I loved her just as much in this. She plays William's mother very convincingly, and at times you can't help but feel empathy for what she has to go through. She's very lonely without the presence of her son, and she has trouble giving him up and letting him live his life. There are many other praiseworthy performance, such as that of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Billy Crudup, and Zooey Deschanel.
"Almost Famous" has one of the most memorable scripts out of all the films I've ever seen (I'm glad that it won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay). At times, the film will be very humorous and make you laugh (like when a phone call from William's mother is answered by somebody who mistakes her as "Maryann with the pot"). And at other times, it will be very poignant and will move you so much that you might shed a few tears (like when William tells Penny "I have to go home" and she replies "You are home.", as they are all singing along to "Tiny Dancer" on the bus). I admire Cameron Crowe for his very personal script and I plan on seeing more of his films.

In conclusion, "Almost Famous" has become an instant and personal favorite, and I'm sure that I will only like it more with time. It has allowed me to be more introspective and to see the world in a different light, giving me the desire to live my life at its fullest. Honestly, this is the first time I could associate myself with the main character of any film, so it really is a landmark for me. I believe that everyone should have at least one film that has this great of a personal importance or significance to them. Years from now, I will remember how great of an effect this film had on me. I'm sure that I will never forget it, until the day I die. I highly recommend this film for anybody, especially for angst-ridden teenagers like me. "Almost Famous" is, hands down, one of the greatest films of the decade. Without a Best Picture nomination, it's clear that the Academy Awards are almost utterly pathetic.

Overall rating: