Movie Review: Almost Famous (2000)

Music. One of the most powerful things in the world. A medium that transcends language. You may not understand what that foreign person is saying, but you will connect thanks to the recognizable riff of “Smoke on the Water”, or the vocal melody of “Stairway to Heaven”. Music, connecting people better than words can.

Ladies and gents… “Almost Famous”.

The year is 1973. High school student William Miller (Patrick Fugit) has been given the opportunity of a lifetime: To follow up-and-coming band Stillwater on tour and write an article on them for Rolling Stone Magazine. So yeah, that’s about it. We follow William and the journey he goes on with this band. From meeting them, to seeing them play, to the various other highs and lows of a 70s rock band being on tour. And I found myself fully engrossed in the plot of this movie. When it wants to be fun and breezy, it’s fun and breezy. And when it wanted to tug at my heartstrings, it did. It rides the balance between fun and dramatic perfectly, creating a journey that I loved following from the start to finish.

The characters in this are all entertaining, layered, interesting, and feel like real people. Patrick Fugit plays William, the young man who’s been given this opportunity. He’s naive, but not dumb. He holds these guys in high regard, and you can see the joy in his eyes as he hangs out with the band. But you also see him get some good development throughout. And Fugit is great in the role. It’s also refreshing to see him play such a happy character after having seen him be so stressed and damaged in “Outcast”. Next up we have Billy Crudup as Russell, the lead guitarist of the band. He’s the member we get to know the best and that gets the most amount of development. He is a bit mysterious, but as he spends time with William he starts to open a bit more and really develops as a character. And Crudup is great in the role. Then we have Kate Hudson (who I mistook for Drew Barrymore at first, oops) as “Penny Lane”, a mysterious girl that William runs into early on that follows along on the journey. She’s a pretty secretive girl, but she also becomes one of William’s closest friends during this journey. She’s a very fun and interesting character. And Hudson is great in the role. I’m not gonna go in-depth with any more characters as most don’t get the same kind of development as the main three, and also because I don’t want this post to get too long. But we do get some supporting work from people like Jason Lee, Frances McDormand, Noah Taylor, Fairuza Balk, Anna Paquin, Philip Seymour Hoffman (R.I.P), Terry Chen, and more. All doing really well in their respective roles.

While not a lot can be found on it online, there was music in this composed by Nancy Wilson (one half of rock duo Heart), and the little I found out about it was really good. There has been one piece officially released from it that is fantastic, and she also co-wrote some songs for the band in the movie (with some additional help from Cameron Crow and Peter Frampton). And there were of course A LOT of 70s rock tracks used throughout to capture that era and story, and it worked brilliantly. Then again, I am a bit biased due to my love for that era of music. Still, the soundtrack for this movie worked perfectly for it.

The movie was written and directed by Cameron Crowe and he did a fantastic job. His directing is tight and intimate, getting us close to the characters and their situations, making us feel like were really part of it. But it’s not the “look at me and how personal I can get”, Crowe’s direction doesn’t call attention to itself. There’s also a lot of humor in this movie and I found it to be really funny, I laughed out loud several times. But the humor never feels out of place or like it overtakes the drama, it fits into the movie incredibly well.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 89% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 90/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10. The movie won 1 Oscar in the category of Best original screenplay. It was also nominated for an additional 3 Oscars in the categories of Best supporting actress (Hudson), Best supporting actress (McDormand), and Best film editing.

“Almost Famous” is a fun, inspiring, and engaging little dramedy. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, great directing, and funny humor. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Almost Famous” is a 9,89/10. Which means it gets a the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
 

My review of “Almost Famous” is now completed.

Hold me closer, tiny dancer…

Movie Review: Rudderless (2014)

Grief. Something we all have to deal with at some point in our lives. Whether it’s for something as small as a great TV show ending or something as big as someone you love passing away. There’s no avoiding it, we all experience it at some point. And we all deal with it in different ways.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Rudderless”.

While going through a downward spiral, grieving father Sam (Billy Crudup) finds a box of songs that his son had recorded before his death. So with the help of these songs and a young man named Quentin (Anton Yelchin, R.I.P), Sam starts a band to try perhaps find some catharsis in his life. And from this we a plot that really got to me. While one of the central themes of this movie is grief, it doesn’t have a somber and depressing feel. It moves between the heavier and the lighter moments very well, never lingering too long on one or the other. There are ups and there are downs, just like in real life. And I think that this plot was overall very well handled.

The characters in this movie are interesting, entertaining, and feel very real. Billy Crudup is great as Sam. He’s a very damaged individual who’s starting to maybe find a purpose in life again, and Crudup plays that so fucking well! Anton Yelchin (may he rest in peace) plays the young man that Sam befriends early on in the movie, and he is great in the role. Laurence Fishburne plays the owner of a music store and he is really good in the role. Felicity Huffman plays Sam’s ex-wife, Emily, and she’s great. We also get Selena Gomez popping up at a few points in the movie and she actually did a really good job. All actors were really solid in this movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Eef Barzelay and it was really good. However, while the score he composed (the background music to be more precise) is really good, I want to talk about the music that’s sung/performed in the movie. The songs overall are fucking great! What’s even cooler is that they were actually performed by the cast. When you see Billy Crudup on stage with a microphone and a guitar, he is actually performing it. And you can tell that with every person performing a song in the movie. And it all sounds great. So yeah… this movie has some great fucking music!

This movie was directed by William H. Macy, And for a first time director, he did a really good job. The shots look really good and the scenes in the movie flow really well. Macy really had a lot of energy in his directing. Not energy like when you direct a snappy and cool action movie, but energy as in the movie never grinding to a halt or getting boring. He really did a solid job!

This movie has gotten some slightly mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 62% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 52/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,5/10.

“Rudderless” perfectly balances the line between drama and comedy, making for a pretty great movie. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, fantastic music, and really good directing. Time for my final score. *Sing along*. My final score for “Rudderless” is a 9,67/10. So it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Rudderless” is now completed.

Billy Crudup can play music and William H. Macy can direct a movie… The world’s full of surprises.