Sunday, April 15, 2007

Almost Half-baked

I’ve spent the later half of this last week in Bristol, where I saw folk band Herman Dune, saw Ogley and watched the only film that has ever made me crack. This film is called Almost Famous and it literally reduced me to a giggling idiot.

The film follows the adventures of an intelligent young music writer who befriends Lester Bangs and goes to interview the fictional band Stillwater for his magazine and ends up going on tour with them and writing the article for Rolling Stones magazine. What follows is a film that really ought to be an engaging coming of age tale set at the crossroads both of the boy’s adolescence but also that of the band as they emerge into mainstream stardom.

It’s a shame it’s all bollocks.

For starters the boy in question is 15. He may lie about his age but you’d have to be blind or stupid or deaf even to realise that he’s under 16. Furthermore, the band are so dull it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to listen to them on stage never mind go back stage and listen to the lead guitarist and lead singer bitch at each other. And it’s all so watered down, considering the wealth of great rock band rivalries and havoc, the best these can do is squabble over the guitarists growing stardom and detachment with barely a ‘fuck’ swapped between them.

Of course there’s lot of drug and alcohol abuse, surely. Well kind of, we sort of see little bits of it, it’s certainly mentioned, but never seen and only once done too excess. The craziest thing that happens is that the guitarist takes some acid and jumps off a roof into a swimming pool. True, that is a pretty stupid thing to do, but by this time you just wishing that the self absorbed half wit would smash his head on the bottom. Just why any of them would want to confide in this fifteen year old boy lord knows, but it would explain why there is a distinct lack of anarchy, after all, they are technically babysitting.

But perhaps the most annoying aspect of the film is the dippy hippy chick who follows them around and has a relationship with the guitarist. Named Penny Lane she looks after the young boy and inspires him with inspirational saccharin twaddle and sleeps with the guitarist. No doubt she’s supposed to represent innocence or something, even though she’s about has all the depth of a bottle cap. It’s not her innocence that makes her believe that he’ll leave his wife for her. She’s an idiot. And just how do her and the other army of groupies manage to afford to follow them and stay in all the same hotels is anyones guess.

And I have I mentioned the boy is 15. His underage sex is nicely glossed over but then again so is everything else. The plot holes are plentiful. Despite pretending to be much older than he is on the phone to Rolling Stone, when he turns up at the office they don’t bat an eyelid. But then again, the staff are so cardboard the worst he’s going to get is a paper cut.

It was the films insistence on carrying on that destroyed my spirit. It would not end. Penny Lane takes an overdose and sadly survives. The band are involved in an air crash incident, also sadly surviving (during which one of the band hilariously admits he’s gay and their nasty new record label manager admits he killed someone in a hit and run accident – he’s ssoooo corporate evil) and on and on and on. The guitarist keeps going on about what’s real – well not this pile of sentimental horse shit.

Well I say that, after seeing the film I naturally (well naturally for me) ran it through google and wikipedia and discovered that not only did the film win an Oscar, but it’s semi-autobiographic. Director Cameron Crowe was a teenage journalist for Rolling Stone, at 16, and was known for being highly likeable and getting on with band who were hostile to the magazine and journalists in general.

But I’m still not buying that this film is anything other than sentimental tripe. Crowe went on tour with The Allman Band, a band which survived the deaths of two of its lead singers in separate motorcycle accidents, and began to fall apart with the help of multiple drug addictions. The other supposed inspiration for the bands warring (well, hair pulling and scratching) was Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, who I’m pretty sure did more than squabble a bit who was the main focus of the band and whether one of them was truly committed. Apparently Penny Lane exists too, though the character was inspired by someone else – a muse apparently, an inspiration blandness, definitely.

So if Cameron did really draw on his own personal experiences, he must’ve drawn upon the dullest ones, and written about all the dullest people in them. I dunno, maybe touring really is a lot duller than we’re lead to believe, and that bands like Zeppelin were the exception. Still, this sugar sweet pile of mediocrity was named the best film of the year by Roger Ebert, who I can only assume was suffering from amnesia and forgot all the rockumentaries (and possibly all the films that were actually good) that he’d previously seen.

Well, it may have won an Oscar but it wasn’t a commercial success, so suck on that!!! And Crow then went onto direct Vanilla Sky, an even bigger waste of time. But at least I got through it without turning into a giggling wreck. But it was ripped off from another film mind.


Wag said...

Wow. That must be the longest post you've ever written. And it's about a film you hate. I think that probably says something about you, dear DPN.

Dave Paul Nixon said...

Sometimes the bile gets backed up...