I’ve been toying with the idea of writing about a favorite older movie (10 years or older) and doing a retrospective on those films weekly. After Sunday’s tragic events where the film and entertainment community lost a pure genius in Philip Seymour Hoffman, it seemed like an appropriate time to start with, what is most likely my favorite Hoffman movie, Almost Famous. One of the best Cameron Crowe films in which Hoffman played the real life eccentric rock critic, Lester Bangs.
The semi autobiographical film loosely based on Cameron Crowe’s experiences as a rock journalist as a mid teen. William Miller goes on a once in a lifetime cross country journey with up and coming band, Stillwater. He learns the rock journalism ropes as he goes, he’s guided by his mother, his conscience and his idol, Creem magazine creator, Lester Bangs. Along the way he discovers the truth about fame and discovers love with a well traveled groupie, Penny Lane despite her affection for Stillwater guitarist, Russell. He quickly grows up and out and does better work than the best of the best in his field. His innocence allows the rock stars to open themselves to his young charm.
the movie hinges on the relationship formed between Penny Lane and William and between Russell and William but the pin and steady voice is that of Lester Bangs, whose voice of experience and knowledge keeps his journalism integrity in tact even when things start to go off the rails. It’s for this reason that Crowe needed an actor of Hoffman’s caliber to play a role that doesn’t come across as major. Hoffman pulled out a fantastic performance and as eccentric as the real man himself.
The film would receive several nominations in both the Oscar and Golden Globe areas. Winning several, Hoffman was left off but not forgotten.
Kate Hudson made her career in the first two hours that I saw the film. I was hooked but somewhere along the way she settled. The disappointment could clearly be seen in her face on Oscar night when she lost to Marcia Gay-Harden for her role in Pollock. Despite the path her career has taken her talent should be noted and this film is proof that she can indeed act.
All that said, it goes without saying that it is one of the great rock ‘n’ roll movies ever, especially in the fiction area. It has a soundtrack that is quintessential 1970’s. It is a film that does true justice in showing that famous people and celebrities are very normal for the most part, they seek stability and want to be seen the same way… for the most part, there are those as vain as you think.
All that said, Philip Seymour Hoffman will hopefully be the remembered area of the film because most of his lines are the most memorable of the film. It is one of the many films of his that will have me tear up every time I watch it from here on out. It’s a flash of the many drops of his genius.