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…

Series Review: Outcast – Season 2 (2017)

About a year ago I reviewed the first season of this show, and I thought it was really great. And now that season 2 is wrapped up I still wonder how this aired with little to no fanfare. At least when season 1 was airing, there was some hype around it… but no it’s almost like the show doesn’t exist. Oh well, let’s see how this second season is.

Ladies and gents… “Outcast” season 2.

We once again follow Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), the troubled young man with the ability to drive darkness out of a person, now having learned that his daughter (Madeleine McGraw) has inherited the same ability. And we follow them figuring this power out while also trying to stop a dark and probably evil event called The Merge. Throughout the season we get to learn more about the origins of Kyle and his abilities, while also giving us a bigger look into this world, including an in depth look into this cult that’s based in the forest. And while it’s interesting to see more of this world that’s been set up, I feel like the plot loses a bit of it’s focus. Season 1 had a very tight plot that had a consistent tension to it while still managing to be dramatic. Season 2, while containing an overall good plot filled with some good dramatic moments, doesn’t have that same focus. By showing the side stories of a lot of the supporting characters and by throwing in a whole bunch more lore it doesn’t feel as tight as season 1. So the plot here overall is good. Not great, but good.

The characters here are all pretty fleshed out and interesting. Patrick Fugit once again plays Kyle Barnes, the troubled young man also known as the Outcast (roll credits). After his “adventure” in season 1 he is a more determined and hardened man, not being as quiet and mopey as in season 1. And Patrick Fugit is great in the role. Philip Glenister once again plays reverend John Anderson, the priest who lost some of his faith after seeing all this dark and weird shit. And Glenister is relaly good in the role. Wrenn Schmidt once again plays Kyle’s adopted sister Megan, and after the horrible shit that happened to her in season 1, she is a bit more damaged than usual. It still haunts her in season 2 and it makes her quite an interesting character. And Schmidt is great in the role. Reg E. Cathey returned as Byron Giles, local police chief and friend of Kyle and Anderson. And Cahtey is great in the role. Brent Spiner once again plays Sidney, the msyterious man with mysterious (evil) intentions. And god damn, he is creepy… gets under my skin. So yeah, Spiner is great in the role. We also get to see more of Kate Lyn Sheil as Kyle’s wife, Allison, in this season, and she’s really good. We also get more of Charmin Lee who plays Rose, the wife of chief Giles, and she’s great in the role. We get introduced to Bob, a new ally and an old friend of Kyle’s dad. He’s played by M.C. Gainey and he’s great in the role. We also get Hoon Lee as a doctor who is important to the plot, but I’m not saying how because potential spoilers. So I’m just gonna say that he’s really good. Really, overall it’s a very well acted season of television.

The score for the show was once again composed by Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross, and Claudia Sarne. And once again it was great. It’s dark, eerie, suspenseful, and jsut overall helps create a very uneasy atmosphere for the show.

The show was, like I said in my review of season 1, created by Robert Kirkman, and it’s based on the comic books of the same name… which were also created by Kirkman (and Paul Azaceta). And the show was written and directed by a whole bunch of people (including Ti West, a decently well known guy). And in terms of overall craft this show is fantastic. The directing and cinematography is gorgeous, giving us plenty of “damn, that’s really good!” shots. And in terms of scariness this season… yeah, it’s not that scary. Season 1 was often bone chilling and actually managed to scare me a good amount. Season 2 on the other hand isn’t really that scary. That’s not to say that it’s not an eerie show, because it is. There’s a good amount of tension throughout the show which makes it a really interesting show. Also, there’s plenty of brutal gore and various other disgusting things on display here… and this is one of the few shows that has made me feel queasy because of it… so good job, “Outcast”.

It’s difficult to say how this season has been received because it barely even exists on review aggregator sites. Really, on Rotten Tomatoes there’s no trace of it. On Metacritic it exists but has no real score to it. And on imdb.com there’s no seasonal average, but the show in general has a score of 7,6/10.

“Outcast” season 2 is a little bit of a let down after the terrific season 1. That said, it’s still a really solid season of TV. It has a good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. The problems with it comes from the plot feeling a bit unfocused, and the scares not really being there. Time for my final score. *Boo*. My final score for “Outcast” season 2 is an 8,88/10. So even though it is flawed, I’d still say that you should watch it!

My review of “Outcast” season 2 is now completed.

I hope this gets renewed for a third season.

Series Review: Outcast – Season 1 (2016)

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Exorcisms, an interesting subject for discussion. For the longest times it was a very common method of *ahem* pulling demons out of people who had been possessed by said demons. But for quite some time now it has also been seen as pretty taboo… except in movies, because in those they pop up all the time because that’s a cheap and easy way to get a scare out of the viewer. Sure, sometimes they can be okay like in the classic “The Exorcist”, but that’s about where the line goes.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Outcast”.

Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) is a troubled young man. His life has been a real roller coaster, with a few ups and a lot of downs. Most of his problems have come from people near him being possessed by demons throughout his entire life. So with the help of Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister), he seeks to find answers as to why all of this has happened to him. And from that we get a surprisingly interesting and compelling plot. Let me tell you this, don’t go into this and expect a straight-up spookfest, because that is not what “Outcast” is about. It’s more of a psychological drama with a demonic twist. Sure, there are scares in the show, but it’s not your typical horror bullshit. The story takes time to build the scary stuff and plot developments, and that is something I absolutely adored about it. It’s not just spooks and scares, but there’s actual human drama involved… which is awesome!

The characters in this show are all kind of messed up in one way or another and that makes them so much more compelling and interesting than most characters in horror movies/shows/games. Patrick Fugit as Kyle Barnes is absolutely fantastic in the role. You really feel that past in him, you feel that he’s troubled, all of it can be clearly seen in his eyes. You want him to solve all of these problems and have a good life, even though you suspect that it might never happen. I really do hope Fugit gets more recognition after his role here because he was truly fantastic. Philip Glenister was really good as Reverend Anderson, playing a man who slowly seems to be losing his faith over the course of the series, even though he keeps telling himself that Jesus is the fucking answer to the problems. Wrenn Schmidt plays Kyle’s adoptive sister and she is really good in her role too. We also get Brent Spiner (That’s right, Data from “Star Trek”) in the role of Sidney, a mysterious man who mysteriously showed up in a mysterious way for some mysterious reason. And he was really good in his role. The rest of the supporting characters were also really interesting and their actors did really well in their respective roles.

The music in the show was composed by Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross, and Claudia Sarne. And if you like the music that Atticus Ross has helped compose for movies in the past, then I think you’ll like the music of “Outcast”. It’s dark, tense, and helps make scenes quite a bit more disturbing. So yeah, I think the music in the show is very well composed and perfectly works for it.

This show is based on a series of comics by Robert Kirkman. For those of you might not know, Robert Kirkman also created “The Walking Dead”. And not only did he create the comic, he also helped develop the show for Cinemax. And it’s a really well developed world they got here, it really feels like it has been lived in for some time. What I mean by that is that when a new show (or movie) comes along and sets up a world, it can sometimes feel like it just popped up there, and not like it’s existed there for a while. “Outcast” is one of those shows that really does feel lived in. I also like how this show is directed. It’s a really good looking show. What’s also fun to note is that the first episode was directed by Adam Wingard, the man responsible for “The Guest” (a movie I love) and “You’re Next” (A popular-ish movie I haven’t seen). There are also some computer effects in the show, but they look pretty good, mostly since it’s not something too advanced that they have to do.

This show has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 79% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 70/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10.

I was honestly not really interested in this show at all until some people I communicate with on twitter (@TheMarckoguy #ShamelessPlug) started saying some pretty good stuff about it. So when I checked it out, I was pleasantly surprised. The story is really interesting, the characters are great, the acting is terrific, the music is amazing, the scary stuff is really well done, and the directing is great. Time for my final score. BOO! My final score for “Outcast” season 1 is a 9,90/10. So yeah… it most definitely gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

My review of the first season of “Outcast” is now completed.

Maybe I should have saved this for October #ShamelessTease…