Welcome to On PolarFlix, a column that will review a movie a week that can be found on Bowdoin’s very own, BSG-sponsored “PolarFlix” network. We are starting with Cameron Crowe’s cult classic “Almost Famous” (2000).
Plot summary (no spoilers!):
“Almost Famous” is a contained movie about colossal subjects: coming of age, the changing nature of rock ’n’ roll, first love and the ultimate disappointment of meeting one’s heroes. The film follows William Miller (Patrick Fugit), a 15-year-old aspiring rock journalist who has gotten the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine on a fictional touring band, Stillwater. While on tour, outside of receiving a series of increasingly incensed phone calls from his mother (Frances McDormand), William meets Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), a groupie who prefers to refer to herself as a “Band-Aid.” He promptly falls for her, despite her relationship with lead guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup). Difficulty ensues, as Miller attempts to write a story while getting wrapped up in his own emotional state and the broader excitement of the tour.
Best mood for watching:
Before this week in preparation for this column, the last place I watched “Almost Famous” was on a long bus ride during which the driver stopped every hour or so to take a cigarette break. This is not the ideal viewing experience for any movie, and as such I would not recommend attempting to recreate these conditions. I would, however, recommend watching the movie if you’re missing the work of the great Phillip Seymour Hoffman (he has a bit part as a rock journalist whom Fugit looks up to), interested in exploring a film with a truly well-considered soundtrack or in one of those moods where you want to feel nostalgic for a time before you were born.
It has to be, “I am a Golden God!” Crudup shouts this while on the roof of a high school party he stumbles upon while in Topeka, KS. Finding myself on an elevated surface fairly far above the rest of a party while I was in high school, I decided it was high time that I shouted this line myself. Unfortunately, as I was 16 and not even “almost” famous, my faithful rendition was greeted not with cheers but mostly with “Shut up, Calder” and “Please get down from there.”
Intended Bowdoin audience:
The movie, which is based on director/writer Cameron Crowe’s own experience writing for Rolling Stone as a teenager, finds Miller attempting to escape a boring, white, American suburb. All of us chose to attend college in one of those, albeit across the country from the setting of “Almost Famous.” People interested in precocious kids, writing stories, young love or rock music should also get a kick out of it.
Watch! A self-contained, smart movie that’s also a light watch—get to it before it is gone from the PolarFlix network forever.