movies

Almost Famous: A Synopsis

(This was written as part of the application process for Chennai International Screenwriting Workshop. It’s not 200 words, as the rules say, but I chose to keep the full version for the blog. Hat Tip: Maami.)

Almost Famous would never miss the list of  my Top 5 favorite movies. Probably because it combines two of my passions – movies and music. Or probably because, it is just so well written, so well made and so well enacted, it just deserves to be there.

The movie starts off establishing the upbringing of William Miller, whose hero is Atticus Finch. His only connection to rock ‘n’ roll is his sister, who is mad about the phenomenon, much to their mother’s despair. When he is 15, William gets a chance to write for Rolling Stones, following an upcoming band, Stillwater, on their tour. The movie revolves around a number of brilliant moments on this tour, the “growing up” of William Miller, his relationship with the band, particuarly Russel Hammond, a groupie, interestingly named, Penny Lane and his one on one sessions with Lester Bangs, the Rolling Stones and Creem reporter, famous for his views on rock.

famous

The sequences that follow are so masterfully written that every frame, every dialog touches your heart. The music, handpicked by Cameron Crowe, goes on top of most of the scenes, that you follow the music rather than the characters. Especially the sequence when Elton John sings Tiny Dancer, right after the band is in shambles thanks to a dispute over a T-shirt and Russel Hammond’s omnipresence as the face of Stillwater. Lester Bangs , Ben-Fong Torres and Jan Wenner were real people and played by look alike actors in the movie. Lester Bangs gives the go ahead to William and gives him timely advice along the way. And arguably, this character gets some of the best lines of the movie. And my favorite is – “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”

The magic is apparent because every character is generously carved and you can see the actors enjoying the parts. An interesting trivia associated with the movie is when William meets Penny Lane for the first time and she invites him to Morocco. William says, “Ask me again”. This is actually Patrick Fugit, the actor getting out of character to ask Kate Hudson to repeat the lines for another take. Crowe liked it and kept it for the final cut. It is a beautiful beautiful scene that merits repeat viewing. Here it is.

The writing is what makes this movie special and next comes the performances. Not entirely surprising with a brilliant cast in Frances Mcdormand, Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I shamelessly promote this movie to anyone who listens and would never miss the TV reruns. I would have loved to see this movie win many Oscars but am happy with Cameron Crowe’s Oscar for original screenplay.

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19 thoughts on “Almost Famous: A Synopsis

  1. ADi – this was one sitcom most grad students on campus din’t miss

    good one – what was the verdict ?

    Adi: Err, I was talking about the 2000 movie!

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  2. “The magic is apparent because every character is generously carved and you can see the actors enjoying the parts.”

    Dude, is it just me or there’s something about this line.

    Aside, I liked the movie too.

    Adi: You have a twisted mind, don’t you?

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  3. Almost Famous is in your top 5 list of favorite movies because it is a movie? Surely there is more to a scene that merits “repeat viewing” apart from simply being beautiful. Hopefully these got edited.

    Adi: Thank You, Alfred :)

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  4. This is a great movie..no question…i love the part where the elder sister argues with her mom over how simon and garfunkel is poetry!

    Adi: Yep, the references in the movie are lovely.

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  5. Well written – neat synopsis. Almost Famous is an interesting choice. I agree there is potential for a great appeal when a good soundtrack takes centre stage in a movie. More recently, Across the Universe did that to me. You should check out this cult classic called “This is Spinal Tap”. I reckon, you will like that too. I liked your observation that you follow music in this film at the cost of characters. Perhaps, that was intentional. Again, well written Adithya.

    Adi: Across the Universe is another good example. But I thought Almost Famous goes above all that because it had some lovable characters and relationships between them. Across the Universe was mostly about the music. I’ll check out This is Spinal Tap. Thanks.

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  6. Loved the movie. It was like a person who didn’t even have to try hard to be cool. Very well written. I would have wanted to watch the movie just based on this piece right here.

    Adi: I like that analogy with a person who didn’t even have to try hard to be cool. Perfectly fits the movie. And thanks!

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  7. Wow, this movie sounds good. Definitely on my (extremely long) list of movies to watch.

    On an unrelated note, you changed the layout! I like it.

    Adi: Thankoo!

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  8. Saw the ad while there. Sounds like a promising workshop. Wish you the very best! ..then come back and write a movie with all you-know-who as characters ;-)

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  9. Hey how was the workshop??? I really wanted to be there…but alas!

    Adi: I didn’t go either. They needed a valid ID card, some work related stuff etc. I believe it was for film students. Now that am in a school->work transition, I was caught in between unable to go.

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  10. Just stumbled onto your blog, and this is the first post I read… Nicely done! Succint, yet captures the essential elements…

    I love Almost Famous too – Penny Lane has been making sporadic appearances in random conversations for years now! :)

    Adi: Welcome and thanks! Penny Lane is what cult stuff are made of. :)

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