Monday, April 20, 2009

An Ode To: The Band Aids

"It's all happening..."

So we talked a very little bit about Adventureland last week and how it reminded me, in parts, of Almost Famous. In particular, I was talking about the relationship between Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, and Ryan Reynolds. But then I got to thinking about my other favorite part of the movie, the illustrious Lisa P (seriously, read that post on MNPP -- it perfectly sums up my wild love for her high-waistedness). And she started to remind me of other aspects of Almost Famous. This isn't surprising, since Almost Famous is still probably my favorite movie of all time. (It's probably why I still haven't done one huge post on it -- too much love to get out in one blog post.) But it hit me all at once: Lisa P is like all the Band Aids wrapped up in one.

The Band Aids, of course, were the collection of groupies, led by Kate Hudson's Penny Lane, who followed the band and made sure Patrick Fugit's William Miller was always surrounded by colorful period detail and nonthreatening sexuality. In the grand scheme of everything that's fantastic about Almost Famous -- Frances McDormand's fierce intellectualism, Billy Crudup's magnetism, the excellent music -- I tend to leave out the Band Aids. Not Penny, of course, but I don't think I've ever really given the proper raves about Fairuza Balk, Anna Paquin, and yes, even Bijou Phillips.

So now I have to talk about the Band Aids. In quotes and pictures.

Estrella Starr

"She was the one who changed everything. She said no more exploiting our bodies and our hearts. Just blow jobs and that's it."

Being played by Bijou Phillips, of course Estrella is the trashy one. While the others talk romantically about the music and the band and lie to themselves about their place in the grand scheme, Estrella gives lip service to romanticism but mostly just talks about blow jobs and ogles Simon Kirk from Bad Company. And then she disappears halfway through the movie. Not sure if there was a story behind that, but if there was, I'd never heard it.

Polexia Aphrodesiac

"I just worry about people using her. Because she brings out the good side in everybody else, but what do they do for her? It kills me. ... Do you have any pot?"

God, Anna Paquin is such a perfect space cadet in this movie. And her her weird middle-of-the-Atlantic half-English half-American accent plays perfectly for Polexia. Sadly, all her best moments are in the "bootleg cut" extended edition of the movie. Her farewell to William as she prepares to go to England with Deep Purple is a sweet little send-off.


"I'm just gonna say this, and I'm gonna stand by it. You should be really proud of him. Because I know men, and I bet you do too. And he respects women. And he likes women. And let's just pause and appreciate a man like that. You created him out of thin air, you know? And you raised him right. He's having a great time; he's doing a good job. And don't worry, he's still a virgin. And we're all looking out for him. And that's more than I've ever said to my own parents. So there ya go. This is the maid speaking, by the way."

"Ugh. Can you believe these new girls? None of them use birth control. And they eat all the steak!"

That's right, Sapphire gets two quotes because I cannot stress enough how spectacular and underrated Fairuza Balk is in this movie. Every single moment of hers is whiskey-voiced, perfectly-observed gold. The monologue to Frances McDormand on the phone is just a runaway train of plausible bullshittery, and check the pose she strikes as the Band Aids prepare to deflower poor William?

I want a poster of that on my wall to frighten away small children and virgins.

Beth from Denver

"Wow, you aura is really fantastic! It's this beautiful purple color. Your aura is purple! Purple! It's purple! Your aura is purple!"

Beth shows up once Estrella's gone, and while she doesn't really do much beyond get with the bass guitarist and take part in the deflowering, she did bring some hydroponic pot.

Vic the Zeppelin Fan

"HE touched this pen! HE touched this pen!"

No, Vic wasn't an official Band Aid. He traveled with Zeppelin, but not with Zeppelin. But without Vic, William would have never found Penny checked in as "Emily Rugburn" and saved her from overdosing on Sapphire's quaaludes. Give that spazz a medal! Anyway, Jay Baruchel, I knew from this moment you were special.

Penny Lane

"When we go to Morocco, I think we should wear completely different clothes and be completely different people."

The first time we meet her, Estrella tells us that Penny "used to run a school for Band Aids." I still don't know what that means, exactly. I do know that Penny's supposed to be 16 years old, which is completely impossible to swallow, from any angle. Of course, Penny is supposed to be acting well beyond her years, so that's fine. Anyway, I've said it before and I'll say it again: The reason I will never be able to completely turn my back on Kate Hudson is this movie. This role. If they held the 2000 Oscars today, she'd still get my vote that'srightIsaidit. And this look right here breaks my heart:

this one makes me laugh:

and this one makes me smile:

every time.


Stephanie said...

I think there is story about why Bijou Phillips disappears halfway through the movie. If you listen to the bootleg commentary with Cameron & his Mom (and I have, many times) he mentions that the Sapphire/Elaine phone scene was supposed to be with another actress but "something happened" and Fairuza stepped up to do the scene. I've always assumed that was Bijou because she disappears around that time.

For me, it’s the little laugh that Kate Hudson does the first time we see her with Russell & their never-ending handshake, and “River” is playing. She looks gorgeous and vulnerable and just like her mother – after that, I was hooked.

seanisbored said...

You summed up my feelings for those women (and one guy) perfectly. This movie is pure and utter love.

My favourite Kate moment is under the trees, when she cries - perfect. She was robbed, no doubt about it.

But you forgot Balk running into the wall (pillar?). Makes me laugh every single time I watch the movie.

Kim Reed said...

Yeah, Bijou was originally supposed to play Fairuza's role, but was replaced shortly after filming started. I remember reading about that when the movie came out.

The Professor said...

I would buy that poster of the "Deflowering" since it would wind up a great conversation piece for inside jokers. And it's true, Balk really did some of the best lines of the movie (especially the birth control and steak). I secretly wish I was William during the deflowering scene (although at fifteen, I'd probably last all of twenty seven seconds with three girls draping themselves over me), but I even more secretly wish it would just be with Anna Paquin...

Joe Reid said...

God what an upgrade with the Bijou/Fairuza thing. That whole movie is really all about the fortuitous casting changes. I can't imagine it's nearly as good with Brad Pitt and Sarah Polley as Russell/Penny. (Much as I love Brad and Sarah, don't get me wrong. I'd take Sarah Polley over Kate Hudson 99 times out of 100. This movie is just that glorious 1/100.)

Secretly Stephie said...

"Yes, my wife had an accident with some Quaaludes..."

Anonymous said...

They went through Sarah Polley, Kirsten Dunst, and Natalie Portman before getting to Kate Hudson. And she's lucky for that because this is still Kate's best role and performance. I'll never understand why she didnt' stick to movies like this instead of doing all of these awful romcoms.

Fairuza Balk. I feel like she was always underappreciated for the work she did.

InfoMofo said...

Almost Famous is my "drop everything if it is on some TV channel and watch it through til the end even if it has commercials and I have the DVD like right there on the shelf" movie.

ESI said...

"The reason I will never be able to completely turn my back on Kate Hudson is this movie. This role." I've said this exact thing about Ms. Hudson countless times. I don't care if she makes Bride Wars 4. The "what kind of beer?" moment is genius and always will be