29 May 2006

A brilliant piece of work

I finally found a copy of Untitled: The Bootleg Cut, the director's cut of Almost Famous. Cameron Crowe was roundly pilloried by the critics for his latest film, Elizabethtown, which I haven't yet seen. But anyone who can create Say Anything and Almost Famous is always going to be okay in my book, whatever he does or doesn't accomplish with the rest of his life. I could watch this film twenty times and notice different things each time.

This time watching the film I realized what a testament it is to the power of family. So many people just complain about their families, but here Crowe found a way to be critical and loving, even adoring, all at once. What a rare gift.

I also love how he shows how different people have different relationships to music. Lester Bangs exists as a critic in opposition to the music. Without something to criticize, he wouldn't have become himself. I heard the voice of Pamela des Barres in Penny Lane (played by the luminous Kate Hudson), and in Sapphire's (Fairuza Balk) speech about the "new" girls, who "don't know what it's like to love the music so much it hurts." For many of the people on that scene, music was the ticket out, a story we have all heard about. But then there's William Miller, the Cameron Crowe character, and he gets it both ways. The music is his ticket to coolness even while he gets to have his family behind him once he starts living his own life. I'm sure some people thought that was too idealized a portrait of his home life to be believed, but I like to see how people show their love of something or someone (see also films by Wim Wenders, Marcel Pagnol, and Peter Weir for some more examples).

(In an odd and almost not-worth-mentioning coincidence, Jason Lee, one of Almost Famous' stars, is the guest on Late Night with David Letterman tonight.)

No comments: