Top 3 Tuesday: Cameron Crowe

What I love about Cameron Crowe is his ability to take his life and his interests and turn them into terrific scripts and wonderful films. Cameron is an avid music fan who clearly has a soundtrack running throughout his life and it is this music appreciation which adds so much emotion to his films. You know Cameron has put a lot of thought into song choice - he's going for a certain feeling at any given point and he knows the music will take the audience deeper into the movie experience. He's trying to get us to understand where he is coming from as a writer and director. It is Cameron's world up there on the screen and we're along for the ride. 

I admire Cameron for staying true to himself. He makes films that are either very personal to him or are character-driven pieces that examine the human condition. Writing appears to be his therapy, his way of making sense of who he is and what his place is in the world. To be able to tell his own stories on screen, in his way, is very inspiring. Cameron has made Hollywood stand up and take notice of him, while still managing to maintain his integrity and unique voice.

So here are my three favourite beautifully-written, inspiring, music-filled Crowe films.

3. Singles - a touching love story set to the grunge music of early nineties Seattle. Music played an integral part in the film, Pearl Jam made a cameo appearance, and the soundtrack was a major success in its own right. Cameron was there documenting the music scene in a way that would imprint on the audience's memory forever. He successfully created a group of young characters who were trying to find their place in the world, just as the musicians of the rising grunge movement were simultaneously doing themselves. Decades later, the movie has become a sort of time capsule for the grunge movement.

2. Elizabethtown - a very personal piece for Cameron, this film was inspired by his own father's death. Music is there, of course, as we ride the wave of emotions the Baylor family experience. There is even a music-montaged road trip that Orlando Bloom's character Drew takes with his father's ashes. You can tell from the outset that this movie is a cathasis for Cameron - it's a sentimental look at how grief and the death of a loved one can remind us of what's important in life, of what there is to celebrate. Even though it's a fictional story, it is Cameron himself, and his understanding of grief, that shines through. I admire him for having the courage to use writing and film to tell of an intensely personal experience.

1. Almost Famous - another courageous piece of storytelling, this film is the semi-autobiographical tale of how a young Cameron Crowe started out as a journalist for Rolling Stone magazine. Given the subject, music is really its own character in this film! As William goes on tour with the band Stillwater, meets Band-Aid Penny Lane, and gets caught up in all the rock and roll, we slowly develop an understanding of Cameron's real rise as a writer and music fan. This is very much a nod to his past, to the boy he was, while also being an insight into how music and telling stories became his passion and helped mould him into a talented filmmaker.      

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