Sunday, February 15, 2004

I've been crying so much today. But not in a bad way. It was just 'cos of the two movies I watched. Or more accurately, one and a half movies, both of which I've seen before and both of which I've enjoyed immensely.

First off was Almost Famous, which I only managed to catch part of. The movie is set in the 1970s, at the height of rock and roll, and revolves around William Miller (Patrick Fugit, loosely based on director Cameron Crowe), a 15-year-old who gets the opportunity to tour with the band Stillwater in order to cover a story for Rolling Stone magazine. Billy Crudup plays Russell Hammond, the lead singer of t Stillwater, not too badly, and despite sporting that ubiquitous 1970s moustache, still managed to look quite dashing. Kate Hudson was great as Penny Lane, the Band Aide who falls in love with Russell and with whom William falls in love. Frances McDormand, as William's overprotective mother, is great (isn't she always?) and the most hilarious scene has got to be when she cows Russell by telling him that she sees through his decadent rocker ways and that there's still hope for him yet, and to please get her son back home to her safely. Russell tells William later, "Your mother... she really freaked me out." "She means well," William says. Another great scene is when the band's plane runs into an electrical storm, and thinking they're all about to die, all of the band members begin to spill their innermost secrets. "I'm gay!" screams one band member, only for the pilot to fling open the cockpit door and say, "We're going to live! We got through it! Hallelujah!" Disgusted, that same band member slams the door shut.

Anyway, I found myself crying at the scene after Stillwater's poker game with another band in which Russell sells Penny to another band during a hand when William is trying to tell Penny not to go to New York to see Russell. Finally, he yells at her in frustration that Russell doesn't love her, that he just sold her for "50 bucks and a crate of beer" because it's obvious that she's in love with Russell, and that William himself cares a lot for her, and in general, I'm a sucker for love and love's obstacles. Kate Hudson distinguishes herself in this scene, first showing shock, and then sorrow, and then finally looks up at William, smiles and says, "What kind of beer?" even as tears are falling down her face.

The other scene in which I cried was when William's sister, Anita, finds him in the airport where he's sitting exhausted, having just returned to his hometown after meeting up with the Rolling Stone magazine executives. He's written a great piece, he's told, but... the band - or Russell, to be specific - denies the whole story. He's just some 15-year-old fan who's fabricated the whole piece, he's told. William looks so tired and... gone that you can't help but feel for him.

But I do love the happy ending in which Russell calls Penny, intending to meet up with her to make amends, and she sends him to William's address instead. Excited, Russell gets out of the car, rehearsing how he's going to talk to her, only to knock on the door and realise that he's been sent to the wrong house... or the right house as it turns out. He gets the chance to apologise to William, and William gets the chance to do a proper interview with him, which makes the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

It's all so sweet and happy, and of course, the movie's to do with music, which is a subject after my own heart. The song selection is wonderful. I really liked Elton John's Tiny Dancer and this time, my second viewing of the show, Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters just sounded sadder than the other times I've listened to it. That tune really tugged at my heartstrings. Sniff.

Memorable Quotes
William (during the scene where Penny overdoses after being rejected by Russell once again): I love you. And I'm about to boldly go where... many men have gone before. (He kisses her)

Sapphire (another band aide, and expressing something I totally agree with): They don't even know what it is to be a fan. Y'know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.

The other movie I watched was Moulin Rouge. I utterly and completely adore this movie. It's fun, it's massive, it's musical and it's so incredibly original. Despite the fact that it has a sad ending, this doesn't detract from the overall spectacle that is the movie. I love that people just burst out into song when they're having a conversation. Wouldn't it be great if real life could be like that?

Ewan McGregor, as Christian, the penniless writer, and Nicole Kidman, as gorgeous Satine, the diamond of the Moulin Rouge, have great chemistry together. You really believe that these two are madly in love with each other, despite the fact that Satine is a courtesan and is paid to make people believe that she loves them. These two actors do a great job singing as well. Ewan has a decent voice and Nicole has a not-too-bad singing voice, and a damn sexy speaking voice.

The choice of modern songs, as opposed to original composed songs, is quite good as well, managing to bring the movie closer to home for the audience. However, I did enjoy some of the original pieces in the show as well, such as Fatboy Slim's Can Can song and most especially Come What May, the duet between the two leads.

And of course, this being a typical romantic musical drama, there will be scenes that make you cry buckets, such as when Satine, in order to save his life, tells Christian that she doesn't love him, and when Christian, having been driven mad by jealousy, runs to the Moulin Rouge, interrupts the show, throws money at Satine to settle his bill with her since she made him believe she loved him. My heart ached to see the hurt in both their eyes. But I cheered when begins to sing their secret song, Come What May and convinces Christian, once and for all, that she did indeed truly love him.

But man, did I cry like hell when she died, finally succumbing to the tubercolosis that's been plaguing her throughout the show.

It's a great show. I strongly encourage everyone to watch it, even if they're the hardest, coldest of all cynics.

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