Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Don't Do Drugs!"

Ever since I saw Fargo, I've been a big fan of Frances McDormand.  Her face at first glance isn't very expressive, but she can use her eyes, her voice, and her body to portray absolutely anyone.  In Fargo she was the pregnant, low-key but stalwart sheriff; in The Man Who Wasn't There, the flashy, promiscuous wife; and in the movie we watched tonight, Almost Famous, the hero's scarily controlling single mother.  She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for this role, and was the primary reason we watched the film.

Almost Famous is the fictionalized story of writer/director Cameron Crowe's first writing assignment for "Rolling Stone" magazine - at the age of 15.  Instead of graduating with his high school class (he had skipped two grades), he was touring the country with an up-and-coming band and being introduced to love, sex, and the seamy side of rock-and-roll.  Ms. McDormand's was not the only notable role in the film; Kate Hudson also won an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress as a determined "Band-Aid," and Philip Seymour Hoffman should have been nominated for his role as a cynical older journalist.  Billy Crudup, Zooey Deschanel, and Patrick Fugit as William, the hero, also turned in solid performances.  Crowe won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

TCM gave this movie four stars.  Barry and I don't always agree with their ratings, but in this case we definitely do.  Almost Famous has it all - a great story; an amazing cast; the heady, often sleazy atmosphere of the early 70's rock scene; and a satisfying ending.  Not to mention Frances McDormand - every time I remember the way she intoned "Don't do drugs!," my face breaks into a smile.

“Rock and roll doesn't necessarily mean a band. It doesn't mean a singer, and it doesn't mean a lyric, really. It's that question of trying to be immortal.” ~ Malcolm Mclaren

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