‘Almost Famous’ Retro-Review

Cameron Crowe made a splash as a hot new indie director in the 1980s and managed to ride that reputation through a series of mediocre released punctuated by the occasional heartfelt piece that keeps his value up. ‘Almost Famous’ stands as the tentpole of his career – the high point in the middle that holds the rest of the ground.

It’s also a movie that shows the value of a good producer. For those unaware, a producer’s role on a film is primarily organisation. Need a cast? The producer secures funding, arranges casting sessions, networks agents, makes hiring decisions and negotiates contracts – and the cast is only one tiny part of a movie. ‘Almost Famous’ could not have worked without a great producer, as evidenced by the movie being a damn solid piece of work.

The cast is amazing – more so seeing how many of the younger performers have gone onto become big names. Anna Paquin, Jason Lee, Jimmy Fallon, Zooey Deschanel and Rainn Wilson all fill out the great ensemble…many of them at the start of their careers. Combine that with the set and costume designs, the soundtrack assembled it creates a great feature.

Crowe really is the star of this feature though. Basing it on his real-life experiences as a young writer for Rolling Stone. The fond memories he holds is shown with passion and honesty, and every emotion carries across to the viewer. The characters all feel realistic and well developed, with some based on real people (such as Pamela DeBarres, inspiration for Penny Lane) feeling well fleshed out.

Kate Hudson is a revelation…or at least she felt like one at the time. Young but talented, it’s sad to see where her career has gone. Penny Lane is all at once sassy and naive, and whilst she leaves so much unspoken it’s easy for the viewers to get a read on her (even if her suitors can’t). Her ‘what kind of beer’ scene betrays how she’d ended up.

I check this film out every once in a while, always a delight. Jason Lee can totally rock that song.


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