It’s All Happening!

 

Almost Famous is a gem of a coming of age story concerning young William Miller, played by newcomer Patrick Fugit: an autobiographical tale from Cameron Crowe, who actually did tour with Led Zeppelin, at the beginning of his tenure with Rolling Stone, when he was 15. In the movie the band is an amalgam named Stillwater - itself an amalgam of musicians: Billy Crudup as Russell Hammond - guitar (“Just make us look cool?”); Jason Lee as Jeff Bebe - vocals (“I’m incendiary too, man!”); John Fedevich as Ed Vallencourt - drums (he says two words in the entire film); and Mark Kozelek as Larry Fellows - bass (“The bass?”) The groupies - referred to as ‘band aids’ in the film - feature a luminous Kate Hudson as de-facto leader Penny Lane (“We. Are NOT. Groupies. We’re here BECAUSE of the music. We INSPIRE the music!”) and Anna Paquin as the perfectly named Polexia Aphrodesia (“ It’s all happening!”). Frances McDormand is William’s schoolteacher mom Elaine (“Don’t take drugs!”), and Philip Seymour Hoffman is typically brilliant as legendary music critic Lester Bangs (“The only currency in this bankrupt world is what you share when you’re uncool.”), William’s mentor and surrogate father figure. Somehow managing to avoid becoming a sequel to Dazed and Confused, this film is all about the music.

My - and probably everyone’s - favorite scene is on the bus just after the party, which could have been an outtake from the above mentioned D&C. Allow me to set the scene, beginning with the party:


   Russell, on the rooftop and tripping, arms up-stretched to the heavens, screams “I am a golden god!” Pointing to William below: “And you can tell Rolling Stone magazine my last words were...” he searches for inspiration. “I’M ON DRUGS!!!” The crowd below goes insane.


William, concerned, points out the obvious: “Maybe we should work on those last words, Russell.”


“Ohh, I got it: my last words were - I DIG MUSIC!”


Limp, half hearted response from the acid drenched partygoers below.


Russell, immediately: “I’M ON DRUGS!!!” Predictably, someone shouts “JUMP!”, and of course the poolside psycho-derelicts erupt in half human howls. The splash is epic.


Back on the bus, Elton John begins Tiny Dancer on the radio. One by one, they all join in. You can almost feel the pain and tension release. William turns to Penny and says “I have to go home.”


She laughs at him. “You ARE home!”


And so are we.


There’s no place like it.


Anywhere.









 
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