Cameron Crowe Double Bill – sharing the love of Almost Famous & Singles

Here’s a sentence that I’ve been waiting a very very long time to type. I’m finally going to see Cameron Crowe’s “SINGLES” on the big screen! And here’s another, even better, sentence to sit alongside the first. I’m also, finally, going to see Cameron Crowe’s “ALMOST FAMOUS” on the big screen!

Yes, I’m extremely excited about these facts. Although Jerry Maguire was a movie that I saw and loved on VHS rental in the late 90s, it wasn’t until I was shown Almost Famous on Region 1 DVD in 2001 (i think) that I first asked ‘Just who is Cameron Crowe? And why has he made this incredible piece of cinema that I completely relate too on so many levels?’ And so began a borderline obsession with the work of Crowe. His writing for Creem magazine, Rolling Stone, the books, stories, movies, documentaries, as well as his idols and contemporaries; Lester Bangs & Billy Wilder to name just two. With the exception of “Elizabethtown”, which I was fortunate enough to attend the premiere of and – rather cheekily – managed to say a brief hi to the man himself as he did his premiere duties, I’ve never seen any of the Crowe movies I love on a projected cinema screen or shared the viewing of these pieces with an audience of like minds, Crowe fans and cinema appreciators. And whom do I have to thank for tee’ing this up? My favourite independent cinema… THE PRINCE CHARLES CINEMA in London, that’s who. I know that this one has been on their list to arrange for some time and man am I grateful that it’s finally going ahead. As a result, please forgive the excited rambling I may have on here, twitter, etc, over the next few days as the screening grows closer. And hey, why not come along and join in the fun? I’m not going to apologise for selfishly wanting to share this night with as many fans of Crowe and these films, the music, the words.

To that end, I will warn I will be taking photos on the night of any signs of Crowe fandom. Whilst Mr Crowe finishes off his latest motion picture WE BOUGHT A ZOO and starts to promote the PJ20 documentary, lets send him love from London! Watch the trailers for both movies below:

 

SINGLES – MONDAY 5th SEPTEMBER 2011, 6:35pm – PRINCE CHARLES CINEMA, LONDON

on set production shot from singles

I’ll admit, this is the one of the two in the double bill that I’ve watched less frequently. A movie about a group of twenty-somethings who live in the same block of singles. The movie is split into sections following their individual and highly amusing interactions in love, lust and coffee. But what sticks out above this for me is the music, the live bands, how it manages to encapsulate being a social young adult in ways that are still relevant twenty years on. What this film captures more than anything else is the origins and atmosphere of a unique period of Seattle social life; a time when local Seattle bands went onto break into the mainstream and consequently the consciousness of America as a whole.

When Singles was written and shot, Crowe used many of the musicians and faces around their ‘scene’ that he knew. As a result you have an early Pearl Jam forming the rest of Matt Dillon’s band ‘Citizen Dick’, as well as appearances from Alice in Chains, Chris Cornell and (fittingly) Crowe himself in his local music journalist guise. As this film was released all these bands were breaking through to the mainstream off the back of Nirvana’s huge success, which whilst a case of lucky timing, is also the main reason why for me this movie is all about this incredible time capsule of this place and the people (albeit fictional, historically) where an entire generation of wannabe rock stars and disaffected youth would look too.

Whilst I’m tempted to refresh my memory of this movie for this blog, honestly I think I’m going to wait until Sept 5th to remind myself of the many gems held within. Although I cannot wait to watch THAT dating video again. Priceless.

ALMOST FAMOUS – MONDAY 5th SEPTEMBER 2011, 8:45pm – PRINCE CHARLES CINEMA, LONDON

Penny Lane & Russell Hammond - Almost Famous

Oh boy. One of Crowe’s most personal movies. Where Singles (whether intentional, or not) captured the grass roots era of grunge that Cameron was living in Seattle, Almost Famous is the perfect double bill, recalling the rise of the rock music as it transitioned from ‘glouriously dumb and stupid’ to the moment it ‘ceased to be real’ with it’s commercialisation and inevitable walk to being a business. This is played out through the eyes of William Miller who – at just 15 years old – found himself on the road with the band Stillwater at the request of Rolling Stone magazine. Whilst entirely fictional, the movie, events and characters are based on Cameron Crowe’s memories when he found himself in the same position as the lead character. These recollections are so strong, it leaves you with a level of authenticity that makes you feel that what you’re watching is real.

I could honestly write a book about this movie – as previous posts on this site would easily prove – as it’s so much more than the story of a band and boy. Like Singles, it’s very much a coming of age movie but on greater, deeper levels. It’s a coming of age of a boy from prodigal teen to man, of a ‘mid-level band struggling to come to grips with the harsh reality of stardom’, of family structure dealing with rebellious teens, of the music industry coming to terms with transforming chaos into money. It’s pure perfection. For me it’s a movie of characters and scenarios all of whom I knew too well and was becoming very familiar with as I started out my work in the underbelly of the music landscape in London. I felt like William Miller. I wanted to know Stillwater and have a Lester Bangs father figure. I wholly connected with Almost Famous.

I’m aware that The Prince Charles Cinema have said that Sony have sourced a 35mm print of this. I simply cannot wait. Can’t wait for the moment when Penny dances with a rose in the post-gig debris soaking up every last moment of the night’s atmosphere, when Noah Taylor screams “From Detroit, Michigan” and Stillwater take to the stage and a whole host of fantastic moments. Above all. I want to see Zooey Deschanel on that huge screen, looking straight down the lens and tell me that one day, i will be cool.

If you’re coming along on Monday, I’ll see you there. Come say hi. I’d love to chat with you.

If you’re not coming, why not? Tickets for the double bill can be bought here: http://www.jack-roe.co.uk/stdcgi/taposcgi/prilon/book?perfcode=1786 and you can see more info on each film here – ALMOST FAMOUS / SINGLES