Almost Famous 1

Almost Famous (2000)
Written by Cameron Crowe
Directed by Cameron Crowe

I was on a late night flight from Miami when I first saw Almost Famous. It was one of those flights that are undersold, so I had three seats to myself. I lay down with half-working headphones watching the film thinking that I would drift off to sleep. The movie captured me though, and I lay there wide-eyed watching, falling hard and fast for Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) and William Miller (Patrick Fugit) and Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup). Music has always led my heart and narrated my life, so music stories are a love of mine, and without a doubt or a moment’s hesitation, this one is my favorite.

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Over the years, and over many re-watches of both the released version, and the director’s cut (the latter my preference), I have found myself toggling between who I relate to more, Penny or William, and whose stories speak to me the most. William is a music lover, a writer, a weirdo and outcast in his life. He seems so often torn between what he wants to do and what he thinks he is supposed to do, and he loves in that open heart so easily broken kind of way. He never seems to belong anywhere completely, though he has moments when where he is feels like “home“, most often when he’s on the road with the band, and Penny. I have felt, and still do feel, so much of those sentiments and conflicting feelings about where I belong, if I belong, and which path to travel.

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Penny though, well she has that bottomless heart, that nearly unbreakable sense of hope, that love of music and the makers of music that I can’t help to relate to. There’s the pain, too. The heartbreak of trying to “project” someone else’s dreams, the ache of being someone’s temporary choice, and the pain that comes with loving an artist.

“What kind of beer?”

She believes in the music with all of her being, believes in the fantasy it promises, the life it seems to offer, the love, but she seems to not see the magic within herself. I want Penny to write a novel, or put a band together, take her own show on the road, and not just be someone’s band-aid to fix or facilitate them with. I know it has taken years and years for me to learn to be my own project, and even still I fall for the music and the music makers.

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Today I would want to be neither William, nor Penny, but I would like to ride Doris (the tour bus) along with them both, and with Stillwater, and the other band-aid’s. I’d like to spend a month or so on the road with them, write on the bus, write stories and maybe some songs. I’d like to sing a song with Jeff (Jason Lee), and take photos with Penny, try on clothes with Saphire (Fairuza Balk) and Polexia (Anna Paquin), make out with Russell, dance on the empty stage post-shows and just take off on a gypsy- soul musical sabbatical from my life for a little while.

When I feel this way, when I long for just that, I return to some of the songs from the soundtrack, and pop in my “bootleg cut” director’s cut version of Almost Famous, and make it my escape for a few hours.

Almost Famous

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.”

“Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer”

4 thoughts on “Almost Famous (2000) :: MOTD

  1. Great, great film! One of my faves for sure. But you didn’t once mention Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s brilliant performance as Lester Bangs. Pourquoi?

    1. I love Phiillip Seymour Hoffman in it, as well as Frances McDormand and Jason Lee and I could go on…PSH as Lester Bangs is genius, and quite possibly my favorite role of is…but what I was writing was on the characters I personally related to, which are William and Penny…I wasn’t commenting on the acting or directing or writing – all three amazing.

      It wasn’t an intentional slight. I’ve actually written about the movie multiple times – this was just meant to be more personal on how I relate to it.

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