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.
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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."
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…
YouTube screenshot *The following contains Spoilers from the season 7 premiere of "The Walking Dead" "Pissing our pants yet? Boy, do I have a feeling we're getting close."- Negan, The Walking Dead
And people thought Ramsay Bolton was sadistic.
The much anticipated season seven premiere of The Walking Dead hit the airwaves last Sunday. Boy, was it a doozy.
I am not going to spend much time on what side of the liked/didn't like it/I'm never watching again spectrum I fall in. I will say that I was enraptured, on the edge of my seat for nearly the entire one hour, six minutes (including commercials) of the episode. This was an episode that filled me with a sense of existential dread for the characters inhabiting The Walking Dead world. It is a feeling that is still with me nearly two days later.
As a disclaimer, I am only through the first ten volumes of the graphic novels. I have yet to reach the Negan arc. I am also on the side of the court that didn't m…
If the NFL is serious about the safety of players and finding ways to limit concussions, the referees in last night's Denver Broncos/Carolina Panthers game had a funny way of showing it.
Instead of talking about what a great rematch of the Super Bowl these two teams put on, much of the focus was placed on the amount of hits Cam Newton took to the helmet last night.
And rightfully so.
There were at least three occasions during the course of the game in which Newton was on the receiving end of helmet-to-helmet hits.
These hits were not of the "blink and you miss it" variety of hits. They were in the course of game action, delivered to Newton after a throw or in the midst of being tackled.
The Broncos were flagged for this infraction once.
For a league that is looking to protect its players, especially quarterbacks, these calls were not simply "mistakes" or "errors" by the referees. And to right it off as such is simply another loosening thread o…