Cameron Crowe


C is for Cameron Crowe.

I love movies.

I love movie quotes. I love good characters, great lines and well crafted scenes. Cameron Crowe’s movies are chock full of all of them.

He has written and directed a number of movies that are well known and loved, but I am going to limit my Cameron Crowe love to my top 3.

3. Say Anything with John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney and Lili Taylor

There is a scene where Lili Taylor’s Corey Flood asks her collection of friends, “If you were Diane Court, would you honestly fall for Lloyd Dobler?” The girls sit there and think and then smile shyly. Corey says “Yeah” and both friends agree…”Yeah”
Many a girl agreed – we wanted a Lloyd Dobler, standing outside the window with the jambox, blasting ‘In Your Eyes’ by Peter Gabriel. I know I did. That movie had so many great quotes, but here is just one favorite –

“I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.” Say Anything.

2. Singles with Campbell Scott, Bridget Fonda, Kyra Sedgwick and Matt Dillon

“Janet Livermore – So, I’m not an Amazon woman?
Steve Dunn – You’re from the high plains Janet.” Singles.

I was still I high school when this movie came out but I loved it all through my early twenties. I remember seeing it from that perspective – when 25 seemed so far ahead, instead of now where I wonder how it is possible for 25 to be so long ago. Maybe that is why I love this movie so much. Maybe it is Cameron Crowe’s signature ability to capture so much with the music. The whole Seattle sound that dominated those years for me is prominent in this movie. Pearl Jam band members actually had small roles. Soundgarden and Alice in Chains both are playing in clubs the characters visit. But also the characters are just good and it’s full of great lines.

1. Almost Famous with Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup and really great small roles by Frances McDormand and Philip Seymour Hoffman

“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we are being uncool.” Almost Famous.

I love so much about this movie. It won a Best Writing Oscar for a good reason. There are so many perfect lines and beautiful moments in this movie that is also just a lot of fun. It’s fun to watch William Miller leave on this adventure going on your with a band, falling in love with Penny Lane and finding his place in the whole Rock and Roll life. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Lester Bangs (who is quoted above) is a gem of a character full of advice and wisdom for William. It was my favorite role of Hoffman’s.

But the real gem for me, was how Crowe took this character that we could have disliked, Elaine Miller, William’s mother, and makes her quirky and surely embarrassing to William but ultimately likable and sympathetic. And I felt that before becoming a mom so it’s not just as a mother of son’s that I relate to her. There is a really fantastic scene where she is talking to William and Billy Crudup’s rock star Russell Hammond walks up and takes the phone, thinking it would just be some star stuck person on the other end of the line. Instead he gets Elaine. The text is below.

Russell Hammond: [Russell grabs phone away from William] Hey, mom! It’s Russell Hammond. I play guitar in Stillwater. Hey, how does it feel to be the mother of the greatest rock journalist we’ve met? Hello? Hello…? Look, you’ve got a really great kid here. There’s nothing to worry about. We’re taking good care of him, and you should come to the show sometime – join the circus…
Elaine Miller: Hey, hey, listen to me, mister. You’re charm doen’t work on me – I’m on to you. Of course you like him…
Russell Hammond: Well, yeah…
Elaine Miller: He worships you people. And that’s fine by you as long as he helps make you rich.
Russell Hammond: Rich? I don’t think so…
Elaine Miller: Listen to me. He’s a smart, good-hearted fifteen year old kid with infinite potential.
[Russell is stunned]
Elaine Miller: This is not some apron-wearing mother you’re speaking with – I know all about your valhalla of decadence and I shouldn’t have let him go. He’s not ready for your world of compromised values and diminished brain cells that you throw away like confetti. Am I speaking to you clearly?
Russell Hammond: Yes – yes, ma’am…
Elaine Miller: If you break his spirit, harm him in any way, keep him from his chosen profession which is law – something you may not value, but I do – you will meet the voice on the other end of this telephone and it will not be pretty. Do we understand each other?
Russell Hammond: Uh, yes, ma’am…
Elaine Miller: I didn’t ask for this role, but I’ll play it. Now go do your best. Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid. Goethe said that. It’s not too late for you to become a person of substance, Russell. Please get my son home safely. You know, I’m glad we spoke.
[Elaine hangs up]
[Russell stands holding phone in stunned silence]