Friday, 22 May 2015
May 2015 Blindspot: Almost Famous
Directed by Cameron Crowe
I'm not 100% sure why I picked Almost Famous for my Blindspot list. Maybe partially because I just wanted to see it. Another because I wanted to see the role that got Kate Hudson Oscar-nominated. And I have always heard pretty good things about Cameron Crowe, and especially about this.
Almost Famous is the story of a young boy who gets a gig writing a story for Rolling Stone, about an up and coming rock band in the 70's, called Stillwater. Rock and roll is supposedly dying at this point, but William Miller is really excited to tour with this band of guys. Before landing said gig, he covers a concert that Stillwater is opening, and meets a mysterious young woman named Penny Lane. A devoted fan (a "Bandaid", but not a groupie), she loves the music and is here for the ride, just like William, as they cross the country with the band.
Honestly, I wasn't overly enthused by Almost Famous. I mean, it was a fine movie, but nothing overly interesting or original about it. The characters are all people I've seen in other movies a million times, and while the story itself is slightly more unique, it still plays out the way I knew that it would.
The trope mysterious girl that Kate Hudson plays is so tiring and overdone. She's older and beautiful and idealized by William, who slowly starts to fall for her. She's so nice to him and they connect. But, predictably, we discover that she's not as happy and carefree as she seems, and in the end, William is the only one who is there for her. It's a little weird seeing Kate on all the posters, and just how much she's been pseudo-sexualized (or just straight up sexualized). This male fantasy of Penny Lane is a distracting in how corny and trope-like it is. I mean, has anyone ever really met anyone like Penny Lane? I know I never have. It's just interesting, because the movie is really about William and the relationship he makes with the band, and also Penny. But you don't see Patrick Fugit on any of the posters. Or even a poster with Stillwater. It's just a sexy Kate Hudson as Penny Lane, who draws in the male audience using this trope male fantasy.
However, Kate Hudson did play the pay to a tee and was perfect for the role. While I'm not sure she really needed an Oscar nomination for this part, she really did nail it.
I know I just ranted a whole bunch about the slightly sexist use of Kate Hudson and the character of Penny, but I honestly did kind of enjoy the movie otherwise. William is not an overly interesting kid, but he's our eyes into the world of rock and roll and the touring life of Stillwater. Stillwater isn't even famous yet but already there are meltdowns and fights, and William (and us) are there to witness it all. A big highlight from the film was the airplane scene. This is where I find the film is actually really well-written and goes into some interesting territory. It's really funny and poignant. The scene is just really well-done in a point in the film where I was feeling kind of meh.
In the end, Almost Famous is a nice movie that's more fun, than anything else, to watch. There's some solid performances, and you get to see various actors in roles before they got famous (Zooey Deschanel, Eric Stonestreet, Jimmy Fallon, etc). It's fun, it's well-written (mostly) and it's just a nice, semi-cliche film. While I get why other people would hold it as a favourite, this isn't a film I would find myself revisiting too soon.
Posted by Heather Martin