Fifteen years ago, the Toronto Film Festival debuted what, in my opinion, may be one of the greatest films ever made: "Almost Famous."
Writer, director and part-time producer Cameron Crowe (of "Say Anything" and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High") has an unmatched talent for exposing the heartbreak and angst that comes along with growing up.
In "Almost Famous," Crowe draws from his experience as one of the youngest contributing editors in Rolling Stone history and chronicles a young boy’s rite of passage in an age when musical freedom and sexual rebellion were at an all-time high.
Along with a premium cast and killer soundtrack, the movie stands to exemplify some very fundamental life lessons. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of getting lost in this cinematic delight, I’ll break down said lessons in a few memorable quotes:
"The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool." — Rock Critic Lester Bangs, (William’s mentor, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman), in response to William’s strife with fitting in
When I think of all those perfect photo ops that never made it to Instagram, the impromptu dance parties I’ve had with my mom in our kitchen or the bellyaching laughs I’ve shared with my best friend on long car rides to nowhere special, I know this to be true.
Keeping up with infinite trends and emanating that sense of "cool" we all fight to maintain can be exhausting.
It’s important to sometimes take a step back and realize the greatest moments in your life are the ones that happen naturally. They’re the moments that may never be considered cool by anyone else and that’s okay.
"Music, you know true music — not just rock n roll — it chooses you. It lives in your car, or alone listening to your headphones, you know, with the cast scenic bridges and angelic choirs in your brain. It's a place apart from the vast, benign lap of America." — Lester Bangs on the power of music
This is an effortless truth and there is nothing I could contribute to make it any truer. Music has been, is and always will be the strongest universal language to date. Amen.
"Look at this, an entire generation of Cinderellas, and there’s no glass slipper." — Elaine Miller (William’s mother, played by Academy Award nominee Frances McDormand)
Much like young adults of the 70s, we’d all like to believe self-government and social integrity can exist harmoniously. While I don’t mean to put my peers in a negative light, I think it’s fair to say the Millennial majority seeks this deliverance through quick fixes.
With the exception of few, many of us have grown lazy in both our responsibilities and our relationships. I hear of more people becoming famous for regrettable YouTube stunts than for professional voracity.
Smartphone apps overshadow courtship and our obsession with being "discovered" replaced our predecessors' work ethic.
Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker once dubbed our generation as narcissists: “A generation foolish enough to have graduated into a recession — ‘liking’ rather than loving, stealing Wi-Fi, twerking molly (or whatever it is you do with molly)." And she's right.
Our grandparents left behind legacies, like the hovercraft and Sinatra, and we’re in danger of leaving our next generation with nothing more than Tinder and the Kardashians.
"It’s all happening." — Penny Lane (sexy, free-spirited object of William’s affection, played by Kate Hudson)
This is, perhaps, the most valuable lesson of all. Penny Lane, in all her band-chasing beauty, turned these three words into a resounding theme, one that ultimately summed up the film's message. This movie taught us not to waste time questioning the adventure, but rather, to let it carry us.
It really is all happening, for each of us, right now. It's happening as you read this.
We have the chance, with every new day, to leave our mark on this world; to create, to invent, to get lost in something wonderful. We collect pieces of people and places along the way and push ourselves forward to find greater understanding. All the while, we fail to see that we may very well have already found it.
It’s simpler than we’ve been led to believe. We have to stop grieving about what has happened, stop stressing about what will happen and truly acknowledge all the things that are happening.
Along with perpetuating my disillusioned belief that I, too, will one day travel the country with a slew of beautiful musicians, "Almost Famous" inspired me to trust my own journey and remember a strong sense of self is the most valuable thing any of us can possess.
My parting suggestion, if you haven’t already gathered, is to get a hold of this movie and learn a bit about life, love and the glory of rock and roll.