Rock Town Hall’s Saturday Night Shut-In: Father’s Day, Birthday, and a Few Cheap Shots on Almost Famous
On tonight’s episode of Saturday Night Shut-In Mr. Moderator tells a story about his father, confronts his profound sense of vanity in the face of turning another year older, and takes yet another cheap shot at Almost Famous, or more precisely folks too high-minded to join him for a screening of Rock of Ages while holding onto the belief that Almost Famous is a “good” movie.[audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/RTH-Saturday-Night-Shut-In-82.mp3|titles=RTH Saturday Night Shut-In, episode 82]
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Yes, I’m a kiss-ass, but if you haven’t seen Rock of Ages by the time you’re out here, we would accompany you. Matinee show.
Beautiful piano piece. I’m surprised there’s been no ballet performed to it. I’ll share it with my teachers.
Happy Father’s Day, Conquistador Stereo and all (we’re having my Dad over for a sausage fest).
Mr Mod, perhaps you can admit that Almost Famous is in fact a good movie that you hate. You (and other Townsfolk) have continuously knocked on the movie while coming up short on any good reason. I will gladly concede to you that Patrick Fugit does not carry the movie well and that the members of Stillwater are not the most convincing band ever portrayed. However, the movie on a whole is competent. A sweet and gentle love letter to the early 70’s scene from a guy (Cameron Crowe) looking back with rose (weed) colored glasses.
You may mock Fugit for his sniveling and whiny acting, but heck the character is 14 years old hanging out with adult rock stars. I think any of us in his position would have wet their pants. I was not cool at the age nor should we expect his character to cool as well.
The early 70’s is probably one of the weakest times in rock. I applaud Crowe for trying to present a rock movie with a universal appeal regardless of era. I know it probably shouldn’t matter that the movie is currently sitting 87% – 88% positive fans and critics respectively at Rotten Tomatoes, but your in the minority of haters out there. Perhaps a second viewing is in order to convince you that your not seeing the whole picture here. I could lend you my 3 DVD “Bootleg” version of the movie with all the bells and whistles.
Happy Fathers Day Fever Dog.
I’ll admit to being on the pro Almost Famous bandwagon, too. Thanks, Cliff, for leading the charge.
I’m with Mod on this. I vaguely remember the movie has 3 performances I liked from Jason Lee, Frances McDormand, and P.S. Hoffman. I’ve only seen the movie once, but I remember being bummed at either Kate Hudson’s performance or the Penny Lane character enough that it took me completely out of the movie. I guess I’d have to see it again to recall if Kate was terrible or the part was so false. No real desire to see it again, though. Over-rated.
Early box office on Rock of Ages shows it is performing poorly so far.
Good call on Philip Seymour Hoffman. It would be interesting and cool if he could develop a Lester Bangs biopic. Wouldn’t that would be controversial.
Whether you liked her or not this is the highlight of her Kate Hudson’s career.
I really need to proof read my comments.
chick, I think we’re on exactly the same page regarding the 3 worthwhile performances and the major distraction of Kate Hudson.
cliff, I owe you and some others more of an explanation. Maybe I can watch the movie again and record a commentator’s track to accompany it. Then others could watch along and listen to my in-depth comments on all that annoys me about that movie. I’ll throw in some criticisms of Wes Anderson movies, too, during the slow parts.
I hate to admit this, but the best Kate Hudson role – the only thing I’ve seen her in that didn’t totally annoy me – was How to Lose a Guy in 10 Dates, or whatever that chick-flick with Matthew McC is called. She actually manages to be funny and cute, like her way more talented mother used to be.
Cliff, you’re doing well on your own damning it with faint praise: “the movie as a whole is competent.” Well, sure. But is there a cliche this movie doesn’t milk for all it’s worth? A feel-good button it doesn’t try for all its life to push? I think not. And as much as I like Hoffman in it, the whole Lester Bangs worship leaves me mighty mighty cold.
I said the movie was good. What I was looking for was a reason why Mr Moderator “hated that movie”. I’m not the one making an outright damnation of the movie.
I’m not damning my point because I understand and acknowledge his problem with Fugit, but for me that doesn’t sour the writing, the music, and the filming.
Competent means the movie accomplished what it set out to do. It succeeded in showing the journey of a 14 year old amateur writer thrust into the adult world of rock and roll and all the pitfalls and trappings that come with it.
Not even Rushmore….
I can’t remember many details, but beside the soundtrack, once the underdog-misfit thing had been established, what was I supposed to like about Rushmore? Like all his films I’ve seen that followed it took a sympathetic premise of outcasts united and drive it into the ground with a bunch of arrogant, thumbsucking, finger-pointing nonsense. I thought it was ultimately a self-defeating and cowardly message. Anderson’s message of retreat is opposed to my message, maybe just a message to myself. I just react poorly to his take on life, sorry.
Oh, Mod, you owe it to yourself to see Rushmore again. It is one of my top 10 movies for reasons that go considerably beyond the soundtrack. Contrary to providing a message of retreat, it’s more like the opposite: when confronted with the reality that Bill Murray’s character tends to give up (and retreat), Max Fischer has to leave his fantasy world and take a more reality-based look at his life. He leaves his school and he chooses a more appropriate love interest. Instead of being a dilettante, he commits to being a person.
My problem’s not really with Fugit, though, cliff. His character is a candy-ass, but I thought he was all right in that role. The real candy-ass, to me, was Cameron Crowe, who totally sugarcoated what could have been a good episode of The Wonder Years crossed with James at 15!
I rarely felt like the boy was 14, if that’s what he was supposed to be. He could have been any of a number of 30-year-old and older “mother’s basement” types I’ve know through the years, the kind of people who are content to sit at the edges of the RTH fire pit, not even feeling the burn of the flames. That was a huge part of what I found disappointing about the movie. The kid didn’t strike me as having much emotional investment in his quest; the quest was geared toward some rockin’ pseudo-enlightenment, the same kind of rockin’ pseudo-enlightenment that probably motivated Oliver Stone, one of those strange guys who never smoke a joint until they’re 30, to make The Doors.
The whole rockin’ pseudo-enlightenment movement in rock fiction and rock biographies is usually a letdown for me. You know what’s one of the best portrayals of that quest that, admittedly, many of us get caught up in now and then? That movie on The Germs. The Darby Crash character is the ultimate commentary on the folly of Jim Morrison idolatry. Crash is portrayed as a total tool but a True Believer at the same time. He’s actually sympathetic the deeper he gets caught up in the myth. I like that movie a lot.
The other main weakness of Almost Famous, for me, is how sugarcoated the band guys are portrayed. I can totally buy the image of a band of rockers on the road actually being good eggs, because it’s been my experience that many musicians ARE good eggs, but the members of that band are rarely if ever shown doing anything threatening to the young boy’s world. Do they even curse in that movie? I can’t remember the details, but they should have come off a little like Kiefer Sutherland and his fellow bad teens in Stand By Me before showing their soft side to the boy. Even the early Fonz, the blue windbreaker-wearing Fonz, gave off a sense of danger on early episodes of Happy Days before he pulled Richie aside and revealed his caring side. I didn’t get that sense of danger from the band dudes, and I hold that against Crowe.
I do remember digging the sister character almost as much as I remember digging the sister from The Wonder Years. Man, I’m predictable. I just looked up the credits and it was Zooey Deschanel. The movie would have been a little better had it featured more scenes with her.
Not a bad point, ladymiss. Maybe I had already disliked that Max kid so deeply by that point that I couldn’t identify with his rebellion. I don’t know, I just get a strong whiff of the director in his movies, too strong. I MUCH prefer the guy who did some work on his movies, the director of The Squid and the Whale and Greenberg. He works in very similar territory and similar stylistic areas, but I feel he cuts to the emotional lives of his characters. The little scene in …Squid… where one of boys (the oldest one?) unexpectedly scolds his girlfriend (I think) for throwing away a paper towel too early kills me. Anderson would have had to first frame that scene with a Nico song and a close-up of the smudged eyeshadow under the girl’s right eye. Then the dysfunctional family’s wise, Ugandan, personal cab driver would have had to intervene as the twin, croquet-playing eunuch sons walked through the kitchen.
You are missing my point, but never mind. I understood that you were trying to praise the movie. You are correct, the movie “succeeded in showing the journey of a 14 year old amateur writer thrust into the adult world of rock and roll and all the pitfalls and trappings that come with it.” It just didn’t succeed in doing so in an interesting or uncliche-ridden manner.
What you might like about Rushmore is that it is a very funny film. For me it succeeds almost completely, whereas nothing he has done since that I have seen has. Not sure what you mean by “arrogant, thumbsucking, finger-pointing nonsense” in this case.
My initial thoughts on the movie were confirmed after listening to the dvd commentary. Crowe did present a sugarcoated version of the era because that’s what he remembers. I’m all for raw movies that pull no punches (I’ve yet to see What We Do Is Secret) but is that reflective of the early 70’s when rock was very laid back. Maybe if the William Miller character had been assigned to Lou Reed there would have been little choice but to show a harsh view of the time. Exposing a teenage to heroin and transvestites is whole different movie.
I thought that the band came across as immature but never the type to be cruel.
I assumed the kid had an emotional investment because his mother was a total square and a outcast at school (I know that’s rather cliche).
More Zooey indeed.
Totally got your back on Almost Famous, but leaving you to the wolves on Wes. Rushmore and Tennenbaums are two excellent movies . (Life Aquatic is good, but less so, and DarJeeling Limited is a turd) Even if they don’t deliver the emotional resonance you seek, they are just damn funny. Gene Hackman is outstanding in Tennenbaums.
Squid and the Whale is another terrific movie, but it’s not trying to incorporate much humor. Not really the same genre, even though I laugh every tiime “Hey You” comes on the radio now.
Yup, Noah Baumbach is great. We really disliked Greenberg, though. I’m a particular fan of Baumbach’s “Kicking and Screaming,” and “Mr. Jealousy.”
One of those good eggs was Mark Kozolek. I’m sure some of you are gonna go “eewwwww” about Red House Painters et al., but I’ll take this moment to give the man props.