I am a man. A man exploring the infinite possibilities of today's burning questions and topics... Or I'm a playwright and novelist who likes to write about random subjects or popular topics. Plus, it helps me at least write once in awhile, especially when writer's block sets in.
Subscribe to this blog
Follow by Email
The Long Journey to the Middle
"The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool."-Almost Famous
In the year 2000, when I was but an impressionable youth yet to truly hit the rough patches of life, the movie Almost Famous arrived in cinemas. Judging by the trailers and the previous hits of Cameron Crowe, I knew I'd be seeing a good movie.
By the time the entire band was singing Tiny Dancer on their tour bus, I was hooked. Chills filled my entire body, tears swelled in the corner of my eyes, and I knew right then that this movie was going to on favorites list for years to come.
Sixteen years later, in what turned out to be one of the few times in my life I was right, Almost Famous remains as one of my top-five favorite films of all time. I make it a point to watch it at least once a year, perhaps more if I happen to catch it on television. As for that scene? It still evokes memories and chills in me to this day.
Little did we know at the time, but (as of this writing), Almost Famous would turn out to be Crowe's greatest cinematic achievement.
The film was semi-autobiographical in nature, as Crowe was once a young reporter with Rolling Stone Magazine. He had the opportunities to tour with many bands in the 70's. It is even said that the character of Russell was based on the late Glenn Frey. Crowe even wrote a moving tribute to Frey after the former Eagles band member recently passed away.
Almost Famous may have been the pinnacle of Crowe's career because of his intense personal attachment to the story. To that point in his career, Crowe really hadn't had a failure. Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Say Anything are both classics from the 1980's. Jerry Maguire delivered the money in the 90's. Things were only supposed to keep soaring after Almost Famous.
Then the slide began. Crowe's recent attempts of Elizabethtown, We Bought a Zoo, and Aloha, despite a fair amount of star power, have not lived up to expectations, critical or at the box office. Crowe had gone from a writer/director who always delivered to a writer/director that was being lambasted by studio executives during the great Sony hack of 2014.
What had happened? Were these movies really that bad? Short answer: no. All three of the aforementioned had moments of humor, scenes of sincerity, and genuine performances. Nothing about those movies, though, are iconic. There is no Lloyd Dobler with a boombox or stating "I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen." There is no "Show me the money!" or "You complete me." And there is certainly no "I am a Golden God!"
Which brings us back to Almost Famous. This is a film that is not only well-written and well-directed, but is littered with a cast gives amazing performances. Billy Crudup as guitar player Russell, balances the right amount of cool and brooding in this part. Kate Hudson delivers the best performance of her career as Penny Lane. Zooey Deschanel, Frances McDormand, Jason Lee this list can go on and on. An entire post could probably be spent on the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman, who plays Lester Bangs. The acting in this film is top notch.
The journey of the fictional band Stillwater, of Penny Lane, and most importantly, of William Miller (Patrick Fugit) plays out right before our eyes. To me, there is so much that can be said about the closeness and dysfunction in a sequence of scenes in the last third of the movie. (SPOILER ALERTS ahead). First, after arriving in New York, the band discovers that William's relationship with the band has landed them on the cover of the Rolling Stone. Part of the brilliance of these sequence of events is the juxtaposition of what is supposed to be the pinnacle of the journey fighting against watching the entire bottom fall out of everything these people aspired to be.
Leading to this:
I don't want to break down this scene any more than that, except to say that the three songs selected bring the scene to a perfect crescendo. Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters by Elton John starts it off, Chicago's Colour My World follows up, and Stevie Wonder's My Cherie Amour brings it all home. The three songs amp up what is already a touching and dramatic scene.
[Sidenote: I will say that Cameron Crowe can still piece together a good soundtrack, even if his movies haven't been up to par.]
Almost Famous is still a movie that resonates deeply with me. There is something about the idea of perseverance, friendship, and love in this film that awakens inside of me the idea that we should all keep pursuing the things we want in life. These are qualities that can bring out the worst in us, but in the end are overpowered by the best in us. And that's what keeps us from being "one of the out-of-focus guys."
I am a playwright, screenwriter, novelist. My novels "The Dragon Princess" and "The Blue Gem" are both available at the Kindle store on Amazon. To learn more, be sure to visit jason-haskins.com or follow me on Twitter: @jasonrh_78
In the late 1990's and early 2000's, there was no greater bromance than that between Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Matthew Lillard. The two of them appeared in no less than five movies together in a five year time span. These two were meant to be. Two young stars destined to take the world by storm as a team. Hanging out, meeting women, and enjoying the good life. And then, just like that, stardom was ripped away from them. Though they continued to work, they would never appear together again in a film.
What was it that pulled them apart? Did they just choose to go different directions? Was it Sarah Michelle Gellar that drove a wedge between these two? While Lillard eventually went on to star in an Oscar nominated film (The Descendants), Prinze, Jr. went on to write for the WWE and occasionally show up as a guest star on television shows. While both have tried, neither has recaptured that joy that once displayed on screen. Tonight, I want to dutifully remind the world of t…
Nevada Day is fast approaching. Have you picked out your costume yet? Autumn is here. Leaves are doing their annual impressions of a chameleon, before dropping from the trees and collecting in piles on the ground. This is one of the many signals we are creeping ever closer to an important fall holiday: Nevada Day.
Nevada entered into an union with the United States on October 31, 1864. Since then, the day is marked nationwide by a celebration of candy, costumes, and general shenanigans and debauchery.
Each year, on October 31, millions of Americans--kids and adults alike--throw on a costume to celebrate this amazing day. Children even go door-to-door in their costumes, soliciting chocolate and licorice to honor the state of Nevada.
Adults have re-inserted themselves into the fun over the past ten years. Many have decided to partake in the celebration of Nevada by dressing the skimpiest costume they can find. These costumes are aptly titled "Sexy Pirate", "Sexy Cop"…
Years ago, in this galaxy and not too far away, the release of a new Star Wars movie was usually reserved for the month of May. Outside of the ill-fitted, little-seen Star Wars holiday special, the past three years have changed that.
New movies from the Star Wars galaxy have now turned into a Christmas-time affair, with The Last Jedi being the most recent of these films.
I grew up with the Star Wars universe and accompanying toys. Hours were spent playing with the toys, whether in my room or my grandpa's backyard. From Luke Skywalker to Jawas, these figures spent a fair amount of time buried in dirt and thrown into the grass. Many a weapon was lost this way, maybe even a head or two, and I like to believe a lost figure is buried in a yard in Bishop, California.
I still own a fair amount of toys from the original trilogy. Sure, the figures have no weapons or helmets and parts are missing on the Millennium Falcon, but I'm proud to say I still own them.
Over the years, I have p…